Everybody who's been paying attention knows that it's been a tough decade for American newspapers. But every once in a while it's worth checking in on just how bad it's been. The release of the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual newsroom census this morning provides an opportunity to do just that.

There were 32,900 full-time employees in American daily newspaper newsrooms at the beginning of this year, down from 36,700 just a year before. The industry's modern employment peak was 56,900, in 1990, although it stayed pretty close to that level until 2007. Then the newspaper business fell apart, with a financial crisis and recession accelerating the digital disruption of the advertising-based business model that had sustained the industry for decades even as readership declined.

This turn of events has been hardest on papers in the middle. During 2014, the ASNE reported, employment actually rose at newspapers with circulations of less than 5,000 and between 250,000 and 500,000. But it fell almost 22 percent at newspapers in the 100,000-250,000 range.