The media has been transformed significantly in recent decades. Technological innovations have enabled more people in more places to obtain and share ever-increasing amounts of information easily and rapidly. At the same time, methods of communication that were common a decade or two ago have declined sharply.
The chart below shows what has happened to employment in some of the major media industry sectors over the past 20 years. Thousands of jobs were lost in old media industries, like newspapers, magazines, and radio, while thousands were added in new and revitalizing sectors, like software publishing, film and video, and the internet.
The graph below shows employment in the full range of the media industry since 1990 -- from publishing to broadcasting, to film and television. Overall, employment rose through 2000, but when the dot.com bubble burst in 2000-01, employment began to fall and has trended downward ever since.
Newspaper publishing took the biggest hit in both time periods, as readers fled print for television and recently the internet. The big growth in employment has come in the digital media sectors — software publishing, internet production and management, data processing and hosting, as well as film and video production, vast quantities of which are served up over the internet. It is interesting to see that since 2009, very few jobs are being created in the data processing and hosting sector. This is not because people are not using this service. Instead, job growth is slow because technology is becoming ever more efficient, and fewer people are now needed to provide more service.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also tracks information about some of the many media-related occupations. The chart below shows total national employment in 13 of the major occupations, most of which are very small. Even the largest, writers and authors, employs only about 150,000 people nationwide. Contrast this with the nation's largest occupations — 3.4 million cashiers or 2.7 million registered nurses.
It is also notable that media occupations have high rates of self-employment. Nationwide, about eight percent of workers are estimated to be self-employed, but all of the media occupations tracked by the BLS have higher self-employment rates than this. And more than fifty percent of writers, photographers, and multimedia artists are self-employed. Students who hope to make a career in today's media industry should consider taking CTE business and entrepreneurship courses to prepare themselves for the realities of managing self-employment.