September 12, 2003

Welcome J-School Graduates. Now Get Lost!

A report that enrollment in some journalism schools is bulging just when university funding is being cut would be a good entry point into the debate about whether or not journalism schools actually contribute to better journalism. But that requires more time than I have today, so instead let's examine how the news industry will welcome these future reporters and editors if they attain their degrees and enter the journalism job market.

Lee Becker, of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication (note: most "journalism schools" these days also teach PR and marketing, begging the question of how much "journalism school" enrollment consists of would-be Lizzie Grubmans as well as would-be Woodward and Bernsteins.) conducts an annual survey of J-school graduates.

Here are some of the findings from Becker's 2002 survey:

 "The percentage of journalism and mass communication bachelor's degree recipients with a fulltime job six to eight months after graduation dropped for the second year in a row."

 "The unemployment rate for those journalism and mass communication bachelor's degree recipients who were actually seeking jobs was higher than the national unemployment rate."

 "The job market was particularly difficult for racial and ethnic minorities, and the gap between the level of full-time employment of minority graduates and their counterparts increased to more than 10 percentage points."

 "Six to eight months after graduation, only half of the journalism and mass communication bachelor's degree recipients were working in the field of communication. The ratio has not been this low since 1992."

 "Salaries remained static in 2002, with the median earned by journalism and mass communication graduates with a full-time job standing at $26,000."

 "Job satisfaction for those graduates with a job remained low in 2002, and an increasing number of graduates reported regretting their decision to study for a career in journalism and mass communication."

And here's the good news:

 "Seven in 10 of the graduates with full-time jobs reported they were proud of the company for which they work, and six in 10 said the work they do is meaningful."

It seems like journalism schools should worry less about how students are straining academic resources and more about what's happens to those students after they're released into the working world.

 Editor & Publisher Funding Crisis Strikes J-Schools

Posted by Tim Porter at September 12, 2003 09:06 AM

Having made the transition from journalism to public relations nine months ago, perhaps I'm a little thin-skinned, but I don't find a lot of humor in the way you lump the entire public relations profession in with the terminally self-absorbed Lizzie Grubman. The idea that journalists occupy a moral plane above public relations practitioners rubbed me the wrong way when I was a reporter. It struck me as more than a bit self-serving, and a transparent way to convince young reporters that it's good to work long hours for little pay.

Posted by: Jonathan Potts on September 12, 2003 09:41 AM

What are the expectations of the students enrolling in journalism schools. Have any of them read the multitude of articles written regarding the universal sorry state of journalsim, the low pay, the closing of many newspapers, the cut-backs etc., Maybe the majority of students anticipate securing a high paying corporate public relations/marketing job and have absolutely no intention of attempting to find a way into journalism.

Posted by: d rabin on September 12, 2003 10:05 AM

Journalism schools also often teach advertising and -- shhhh - broadcasting(!). It's not all print hacks. Many are hoping to land that anchor spot, or the account exec job at an ad firm, or PR office. Sure, their chances are slim, but that doesn't keep people from getting English degrees, either. :-)

Posted by: bryan on September 12, 2003 11:42 AM
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