Today, the term ink-stained wretches is exactly one-third accurate.
Journalists aren't quite so blotched from pens and printers, now that the newspaper die-out has wiped out 50 years of advertising gains in a decade. With cleaner shirts, less paper, and worse pay, we're more like carpal-tunnel wretches. We're older on average than we used to be, slightly more moral, and far more lugubrious about the future of our profession.
Here is the state of the American journalist, according to a survey from Indiana University.
1. They're more liberal.
Like the rest of the country, journalists feel more comfortable identifying themselves as independents rather than shacking up with a particular party. But among journalists who align with one of the two major parties, four in five said they're Democrats.
Unambiguous proof of media bias? Perhaps. But this is a poll of all kinds of reporters and editors, not just political reporters. Plus, the rise of explicitly ideological media in the last generation, on TV and the Web in particular, makes the question of "bias" somewhat moot in many cases. If you're getting your news from a source you understand to be liberal or conservative, you're consuming the bias you're seeking. If there were a tremendous shortage of conservative journalists to fulfill the demand for more conservative news, this might actually be good news for those conservative journalists: It should make it easier for them to find a job and demand a high salary.
2. They're sadder about their jobs.
3. They're older (than you'd think).
4. They're mostly guys—but that's changing.
... there are slightly more women than men. To be clear, this graph below shows years in the profession, not age. So while I think it's reasonable to assume that twentysomething journalists are the most gender-diverse generation so far, this chart could also reflect the fact that women are more likely to leave the profession early, either to change jobs or drop out of the workforce (e.g. to raise a kid).
5. They're very, very highly educated...
6. ...but not rich.
I've now written "for men" twice. For women, the median income gap in journalism is considerable. Women make $0.82 for every $1.000 earned by a guy in the 2012 survey. In 1970, she made $0.64. Progress, but not equality.
7. They're more moral.