Introducing “The Launchpad Report,” an exploration of the key challenges facing emerging journalists today

Renaissance Journalism is excited to announce the publication of “The LaunchPad Report,” our recent research inquiry into the myriad professional, personal and systemic challenges facing many young, entry-level journalists as they seek to find meaningful employment, pursue their reporting interests, and establish themselves within the news industry.

“Perhaps now more than ever, the news industry is at risk of losing one of its greatest assets: the next generation of journalists who are passionate about social justice and equity journalism,” said Jon Funabiki, executive director of Renaissance Journalism. “Many aspiring journalists—particularly those who come from communities of color and working-class backgrounds—are confronting significant barriers.”

Low wages, a dearth of trusted mentors, and feelings of isolation within the predominantly white, male-dominated news industry were among the challenges most often cited by the journalists who participated in our research, which was led by Kaylee Fagan, media and research coordinator of Renaissance Journalism.

These challenges often create insurmountable barriers to the news industry for some emerging journalists. The unfortunate result: They end up seeking work in other fields, thereby depriving the news industry of their fresh and diverse perspectives, as well as their talent and creativity.

This inquiry focused primarily on the unique experiences of entry-level or emerging journalists with a passion for covering social justice and equity issues, such as immigration, the housing crisis, the prison industrial complex, health equity and others.

“We decided to hone in on this group because we believe the public’s need—and the news media’s need—for their perspectives and new approaches to reporting have never been greater,” Funabiki said. “The pandemic and the historic movements for racial justice have laid bare our nation’s deepest structural and systemic inequities. This is a critical inflection point for our country and our newsrooms.”

As part of our research, Fagan conducted 24 one-on-one interviews with journalists at various early stages in their careers. Renaissance Journalism also hosted two small-group discussions, where we asked emerging journalists to further expand on some of the challenges described in their interviews and to explore possible solutions.

“What we found is that young early-career journalists have so much passion and drive to report on social injustices and systemic inequities, but many of them are frustrated and feel undervalued during this early stage in their career,” said Fagan. “As a result, many don’t see a future in journalism.”

Click this link to download the full report:

The LaunchPad Report