Data Roundup: Smaller Newsrooms, San Francisco’s Name, Employers and Political Info

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We begin this month's data roundup examining a sobering survey of 850 communication and journalism programs.

Some people see media members and communicators as having a symbiotic relationship. Moreover, ‘think like a journalist’ is an oft-repeated phrase in the PR pro’s world. As such, data about media members are relevant for PR pros.

The first datapoints come from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce’s Stop the Presses: Journalism Employment and the Economic Value of 850 Journalism and Communication Programs.

  • -63%: newspapers’ average employment drop since the 1980s (Note: jobs in internet publishing, broadcasting and web search portals increased more than 6 times, yet that didn't offset newspaper employment’s losses)
  • 91% white: composition of newsrooms in 1990-1999
  • 90%: journalists who hold at least a bachelor’s degree, up from 79% (1980s)
  • 75% white: composition of newsrooms in 2010-2020
  • 40%: news editors and reporters who are women
  • 20%: of all journalists who live in NY, LA or Washington, DC
  • 15%: journalism majors who work in news

Awful Data about Journalism

  • 363: number of journalists in jail during 2022, a record number, up 20% vs 2021
  • 67: number of journalists and others in the media profession killed in 2022, up 50% vs 2021, Ukraine (15) was the deadliest country for media, Mexico (13) and Haiti (7), per The Committee to Protect Journalists
  • 28: journalists killed in 2021

Much Better News about News

Don’t Call Us…

Knowing there are fewer journalists and a larger cadre of PR pros–PR positions will grow 8% from 2021 to 2031–you might conclude it’s harder to garner responses for pitches.

Indeed, Propel’s Q1 2023 Media Barometer finds journalists responded to not quite 3% of 500K pitches sent via its platform in Q4 2022. That’s a 20.6% decrease from the previous quarter.

Propel suggests the downturn has a strong correlation with“mass layoffs…at major outlets,” such as Buzzfeed, CNN, Gannett and the BBC.

  • 66%: Response rate of journalists to pitches Q4 2022
  • 35%: Response rate of journalists to pitches Q3 2022
  • 23%: Response rate of journalists to pitches Q4 2021

So far, journalists haven’t fared better in the New Year, with editorial layoffs this week at Adweek (-10%) and earlier at NBC/MSNBC. Plans for layoffs at The Washington Post were announced  late last month, with the first cuts coming earlier this week.

On the upside, Propel reports PR pros are doing their part, writing pitches with shorter subject lines.

  • 33%: Increase in pitches with short (6-9 words) subject lines (2.6% open rate)
  • -30%: Decrease in pitches with subject lines of 10-15 words (2.03% open rate)

Less is More...Sometimes

Speaking of keeping things tight, OpenInfluence’s Nov.-Dec. survey of 150 brand marketing leaders about their work with creators/influencers shows short and small are in. For example, results for the most common form of creator/influencer content:

  • 57%: Short-form video
  • 47%: Images
  • 37%: Long-form content

On the other hand, small doesn’t always work. For all the talk about micro-influencers being the way to go, brands still look at number of followers more than anything else, though engagement rate is close:

  • 49%: Follower Count
  • 47%: Engagement Rate
  • 45%: Audience Demographic
  • 41%: Content Quality

Not a big surprise with most popular platforms for creator/influencer marketing, though TikTok’s growth is impressive:

  • 76%: Instagram
  • 67%: Facebook
  • 59%: TikTok

Also growing, 64% of respondents expected their creative/influencer budgets will grow this year. Still, 29% say convincing the C-suite about creator/influencers’ worth remains a hurdle. Perhaps that’s because just 40% of respondents say it’s “definitely easy” to obtain good data.

You’ve Got My Vote

The jury’s out on how deep business should weigh in on politics and social issues, if at all. However, Gen-Z and Millennials often are most interested in having businesses take stands. Still, the findings in a Morning Consult survey of 3,000 employed voters that Bipac sponsored were somewhat surprising. The survey was fielded Nov. 10-13.

  • 55%: Gen-Z employees who said employers should provide staff with information about upcoming elections and candidates
  • 44%: Millennials who said the same thing

Age-skewing was apparent when respondents were asked whether they “trusted” their employer to “provide information about elections or candidates in a non-partisan manner.” Those saying yes:

  • 50%: Gen-Z (1997-2012)
  • 48%: Millennials (1981-96)
  • 44%: Employed registered voters
  • 41%: Gen-X (1965-80)
  • 37%: Baby Boomers (1946-64)

Data Nuggets

  • Bospar released a "politely pushy" 5th annual San Francisco Naming Day Survey. From it we find 39% of Americans refer to San Francisco improperly, calling it San Fran or Frisco etc. Still, Bospar believes the 39% "is a big win." In the 2018 survey, the figure was 56%. Incidentally, Jan. 30 marks the anniversary of the city's name change, from Yerba Buena, in 1847.


  • They'd throw us out of the PR ballpark if we hadn't mentioned ChatGPT.  Data from DigitalThirdCoast's analysis of 700+ LinkedIn and Twitter posts since the bot's launch shows decent acceptance. LinkedIn posts of digital PR and marketing and SEO pros were 53% positive, 23% neutral and 24% negative. SEO pros were most skeptical and "concerned for their jobs," Digital says. On Twitter, the figures were 41% positive, 38% neutral and 21% negative.