If you, like so many, have become lost in the deluge of job loss numbers from U.S. newspapers, there is now a virtual map that tracks the casualties—for better or worse.
The cleverly titled Paper Cuts was founded by Erica Smith, a graphic designer at the daily St. Louis Post-Dispatch who—after watching multiple friends and colleagues get gifted with pink slips—sought to paint a broader picture of the losses. She began aggregating numbers from press releases, wire reports and grapevine tip-offs, and ended up with some of the most comprehensive tallies on the topic to date.
And the numbers are staggering, particularly when the years 2008 and 2007 are inspected side-by-side. In 2007, the estimated 2,185 job losses, including layoffs and buyouts—illustrated in multicolored pushpins—freckle Smith’s map in shallow clusters at its four points. Flip to 2008 and the map is covered with a dense thicket of pushpins, representing an estimated 15,554 job losses—approximately 15 percent of the total newsroom workforce.
Adding insult to injury, Smith recently told the American Journalism Review that her count could be substantially undershooting the actual number, as many news outlets do not announce their cuts; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ total, which encompasses all newspaper positions from editors to delivery drivers, shows a total of more than 22,000 in 2008.
So far, Smith counts nearly 1,000 cuts in 2009. With The New York Times reporting today that its earnings were down 48 percent year-over-year in the last three months of 2008, the best we can do is pick up a paper and hope for a silver lining in 2009.