US journalists less satisfied, see negative trend

WASHINGTON (AFP) - American journalists have become increasingly dissatisfied with their work and see the industry moving in the wrong direction, a new survey shows.

The Indiana University survey, which follows up on research first conducted in 1971, found that as newsrooms are shrinking, journalists see themselves having less autonomy and that job satisfaction is on the decline.

The 2013 survey shows that, compared with a decade earlier, "the updated demographic profile of US journalists reveals that they are now older on average, slightly more likely to be women, slightly less likely to be racial or ethnic minorities, slightly more likely to be college graduates (and) more likely to call themselves Independents politically." Released late last week, it found 59.7 per cent say that journalism in the United States is headed "in the wrong direction".

The median age of full-time US journalists increased by six years from 2002 to 47.

In terms of job satisfaction, just 23 per cent of the journalists surveyed said they were "very satisfied" with their work, compared with 33 per cent in 2002 and 49 per cent in 1971.

The survey also suggests journalists are more careful about ethics.

"Far fewer US journalists in 2013 are willing to say that some reporting practices might be justified in the case of an important story," it said.

"These practices include using confidential or personal documents without permission, badgering or harassing news sources, seeking undercover employment, posing as someone else, and paying for information.

These seem to be indicators of a more cautious and perhaps more ethical journalism." More than 80 per cent of those surveyed said social media was important to promote them and their work, and more than two-thirds (69.2 per cent) said they are more engaged with their audiences because of this.

But just under half - 48.9 per cent - said social media allow them to communicate better and only 29.7 per cent said these platforms enhanced their professional credibility.

The report was based on interviews with a random sample of 1,080 journalists including 358 at daily newspapers, 238 from weekly newspapers, 132 from television stations and networks, 97 from radio, 92 from online news organisations, 103 from the wire services, and 60 from news magazines.