Low pay. Stressful work. Terrible schedules. People yelling “fake news!” at you — or worse. The modern American journalist has a largely thankless job, but it’s one that nonetheless is crucial to any functioning democracy.
Outside of government, the press is the only industry specifically referenced in the Bill of Rights, and throughout our history, many of the worst abuses of power have come to light only after dogged reporters and journalists got involved.
There’s no doubt that the past few decades have been tough on journalism in the United States. Newspaper circulation has plummeted, and newsrooms have shed thousands of jobs. In fact, between 2006 and 2017, employment in newspaper editorial departments fell by nearly 50%.
Adding to the average journalist’s stress over whether they’ll even have a job tomorrow is the continuing erosion of the public’s trust in news media. While the numbers have ticked up over the past couple of years, public trust in the news media fell to just 32% in 2016, down from a post-Watergate high of 72% in 1976.
All is not lost, though: Enrollment at many major journalism schools, including Columbia, USC and Northwestern has risen over the past couple of years, which would seem counterintuitive if, as people suggest, the industry is dying.
The U.S. is a vast and complicated country, and the day-to-day reality in one place may bear no resemblance to what happens elsewhere. So we wanted to explore where the young journalists who will soon be starting their careers should consider looking for work.
You can jump to the bottom to see our complete methodology, but our rankings of best and worst states and cities for journalists plots every state and the 50 largest U.S. cities on a scale based on how difficult the life of a journalist is likely to be. The calculation includes things like ease of finding a job, typical wages, how expensive rent is and how likely attacks against journalists are. In our scale, higher numbers equate to a worse outlook.