When Scott Reinardy began studying the state of morale in newspaper newsrooms more than 10 years ago, he says, he was trying to “take the temperature” on job satisfaction and burnout in the profession. He didn’t know the industry was about to enter a traumatic period of upheaval that would deplete the ranks of journalists around the country and force newspapers to reassess their mission.
In Reinardy’s new book, Journalism’s Lost Generation: The Un-Doing of U.S. Newspaper Newsrooms, the University of Kansas journalism professor assesses the damage done in that tumultuous decade. In interviews with hundreds of journalists at small, midsize, and large newspapers, and surveys of thousands more, Reinardy collected data on job satisfaction and heard stories of uncertainty, anxiety, and burnout. Tens of thousands of layoffs and buyouts and an evolving, still unsettled business model have created what he calls a “lost generation” of journalists: those who have left the profession, voluntarily or not, and those who are left to pick up the slack in smaller newsrooms and try to forge a new path for the profession.