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Journalism Grads Face Tough Job Market

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
August 13, 2009

A recent survey indicates that 2008 journalism school graduates faced the worst market for new journalists in nearly 25 years.

Editor and Publisher reports that the study, released by the University of Georgia's James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, was based on data collected from 2,542 spring 2008 graduates receiving bachelor's and master's degrees from 86 universities throughout the country. The survey concluded that only six in 10 of journalism school graduates found full-time employment six to eight months after graduation.

"Graduates who found work were more likely to report they took their job because it was the only one available," said UGA researchers in the report, "and less likely to say they were doing what they wanted to do."

Lee Becker, director of the Cox Center and co-author of the report, blamed the grim employment outlook on "a combination of the collapse of the economy and the undermining of the economic model of journalism."

Public relations graduates had the best chance of securing jobs, with nearly 71 percent employed, compared to only 59 percent of print journalism students. Moreover, UGA's student newspaper, The Red and Black, reports that the study found that women were more successful in the job market in 2008 than men, and minority graduates were less likely to find communications job than non-minorities.

The sole piece of good news for 2008 journalism graduates was that their average salaries of $30,000 were the same as the year before. But employers cut back on benefits such as medical, dental, life and disability insurance, and were less likely to provide maternity and paternity leave, child care and retirement plans.

"By almost all indications, the 2008 graduates of the nation's journalism and mass communications programs found themselves in a disastrous job market," the report concluded.

Tom Fiedler, the dean of Boston University's College of Communication, agreed with the report's findings. "Our journalism majors are apprehensive about entering the job market at a time like this, particularly carrying the burden of student loans, as many of them do," he told Journalism.org. "In the past year, other than for internships, I haven't met a single recruiter from a newspaper or TV operation."

But Hunter Walker, a Columbia School of Journalism student who writes for Gawker.com, maintains that his choice to enroll was a good one. "There aren't many jobs out there," he writes, "but it seems like the few good gigs that do exist are only going to people with journalism degrees. I know I might not be able to get a journalism job, but if I need to go the entrepreneurial route or find work in another industry, I think I'll be better prepared to do so with training in research, writing, and investigative skills."

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