How to combat the announcer gap

Because the National Endowment for the Arts believes the number of working writers and authors in South Dakota dropped from 222 in 1990 to 190 in 2000, the NYT book blog asks, “Who is killing the writers of South Dakota?” But perhaps the real question is, “Who’s killing the announcers of South Dakota?”

According to a recent research report, Artists in the Workforce 1990-2005, at least the state is tied for fifth in the nation in “announcers” per 10,000 people. That’s right. In 2000, we had more announcers (“radio, television, public address systems, events”) employed in the state — 220 — than writers and authors. (In perhaps an indirect slam on my former profession, the term “writers and authors” does not include “technical writers, editors, or journalists.”)

Yet while the NYT is evidently worried about the 14 percent drop in writers, the study shows we experienced a 40 percent reduction in announcers (from 367 in 1990). And perhaps of even more concern to any self-respecting South Dakotan is that North Dakota ranks first in the nation in announcers per 10,000 people. Plainly, we are facing a critical announcer gap.

Some of our other rankings also leave cause for concern. We saw a 90 percent reduction in employed actors, from 44 to 4. But that’s better than the announcer bastion to the north. North Dakota dropped from 44 to 0 — that’s right, z-e-r-o — paid actors. (Of course, if you look closer, the NEA report says that when you take the margin of error into account there could be anywhere from zero to 227 paid actors in each state.)

In terms of percent of the workforce, here’s how South Dakota ranked as of 2000: photographers (9th); entertainers and performers (12th); fine artists, art directors and animators (28th); producers and directors (31st); musicians and singers (44th); all artists (45th); architects (47th); writers and authors (47th); actors (48th); designers (49th); and dancers and choreographers (50th).

Of course, as I consider the ramifications of the announcer gap I can’t help but wonder if there’s a better option. Perhaps we should help North Dakota keep its number one ranking and trade it a few announcers in exchange for some writers and authors.

[A]rtists constitute one of the largest classes of workers in the nation…. Artists represent a larger group than the legal profession (lawyers, judges, and paralegals), medical doctors (physicians, surgeons, and dentists), or agricultural workers (farmers, ranchers, foresters, and fishers).

Artists in the Workforce 1990-2005

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