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Media and Communications

DC has been a strong center for the media industry, particularly news and documentary production. News companies such as the Washington Post, Atlantic Media, NPR, and US News are headquartered in the District, while all other major news providers have prominent DC bureaus. There has been a 4% increase in journalists accredited to cover Congress (including press, periodicals, radio and television, and photographers) between 2009 and 2014, increasing from 6,544 to 6,816.1 Beyond news, DC and the DC metro area are home to several large media players, including Discovery and National Geographic, and a wide variety of advertising and public relations firms. Advertising and PR agencies account for 8,300 jobs in the District, and marketing and advertising companies represent 8.8% of all startups in the region.2

However, the media industry is transforming and becoming increasingly fragmented. The way media is consumed is shifting, both in terms of media providers and channels, with consumers increasingly moving towards digital consumption through non-traditional providers like Netflix, iTunes, and YouTube. The $170 billion US television market will thus probably contract. Forecasts indicate the daily TV minutes for the adult population will continue to fall at a steady rate.3 The trend towards “cord-cutting” – former paid TV subscribers who completely cancel paid TV service – is also projected to grow from 4.4 million households nationwide in 2014 to 8.4 million in 2020, a 91% increase.4 The DC media and communications industry has thus seen a resulting 6% decrease in the number of total jobs, from over 24,000 in 2012 to under 23,000 in 2016.


Visit the initiatives page and filter Core Sector by “Media & Communications” and “All” to see initiatives that support this sector. You can also filter Opportunity Area by “Impact Economy” to see additional initiatives related this sector. 

Major Trends Affecting the Sector and Implications

News consumption shifting towards digital and social media

Trends: Overall U.S. newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) continues to fall, as does advertising revenue. Consequently, national newsroom employment figures showed a 10% decline in 2015, greater than in any year since 2009, leaving a national workforce of 33,000 full-time newsroom employees, over 20,000 fewer than 10 years prior.5 While TV news saw both ad and subscriber revenue growth from news in 2015 and 2016, television news faces challenges from social media. 62% of US adults overall now get news on social media sites, many of which took steps over the last year to enhance their video streaming capabilities.6 Jobs in media increasingly require handling multiple tasks that might have been separate jobs in the past: a journalist might also have to do some videography, and manage her social media presence, for instance.7

Implications: The transformation in the news industry is transforming the way that news companies are doing their business, which has significant implications for DC. Journalism experts question whether the once required “DC Bureau” is becoming obsolete.8 This has implications not just for journalist jobs, but for the ecosystem of jobs that support media production, such as ad sales, camera crews, and printers.

News companies focusing on alternative revenue models

Trends: Media companies have started to use their storytelling skills, subject matter expertise, and knowledge of live content to develop conference and events divisions that are major drivers of revenue. AtlanticLive, for instance, produces more than 100 events across the country, and brings in 20% of Atlantic Media’s revenue.9

Implications: The presence of national leaders, policy experts, and thought leaders in DC make the District a natural home for conferences and events centered on policy and impact. DC can explore how to encourage media companies to continue organizing high-profile events in the District.

Media and communications can play a role in branding of the District

Trends: Outside of DC, the DC brand is still associated with being the seat of federal government. However, the District’s thriving private sector creative class has changed DC culture – for example, Travel and Leisure magazine noted DC’s global and innovative restaurant scene, with “a host of pioneering chefs, bartenders, and entrepreneurs.”10

Implications: Media and communications firms can play a role in marketing the brand of DC nationally as a center for innovation and innovative businesses, not just the seat of government. For example, a SXSW-like event could put DC on the map for media. DC can help foster existing partnerships among tourism and hospitality industry players such as restaurants and museums, cross-promoting different kinds of culture.


  1. Pew Research Center. “Today’s Washington Press Corps More Digital, Specialized”. Pew Research Center, December 2015. <>.
  2. 2016 Startup Census Report. Fosterly. <>
  3. Deloitte. “US TV: Erosion, Not Implosion.” Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2016. Deloitte, 2016. Accessed 21 December 2016. <>.
  4. eMarketer. “Americans Cutting the Cable TV Cord at Increasing Pace.” eMarketer, 10 December 2015. Accessed 21 December 2016. <>.
  5. American Society of Newspaper Editors, 2005 Census, <>; cited in Amy Mitchell and Jesse Holcomb. “State of the News Media 2016.” Pew Research Center, 15 June 2016. <>
  6. Ibid.
  7. Romensko, Jim. “Here are the Job Descriptions for the ‘Newsroom of the Future’”. Jim Romenesko. 8 August 2014. <>
  8. Usher, Nikki. “Are DC bureaus worth saving?” Columbia Journalism Review, 26 January 2016. <>
  9. Kaydo, Chad. “Why are so many journalists becoming event planners?” Bizbash. 23 July 2014. <>
  10. Maroukian, Francine. “DC’s Innovative Restaurant Scene.” Travel + Leisure. Accessed 21 December 2016. <>.