Educators are now encouraging aspiring journalists to look for jobs outside the news business. As the journalism industry rapidly evolves, the professors in the field are telling students about their job prospects outside the traditional media platforms, recent findings suggest.
Drastic Changes In Journalism Observed
The post-Watergate media era where you would work for a local paper or TV station and work your way up to a secured retirement is behind us. Now, papers are shutting down, news outlets are consolidating, and information is widely available on the internet.
As part of the latest study, a team of researchers wanted to see how these drastic changes in media and media consumption over the past 20 years were impacting journalism education.
For the study, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 113 faculty, staff and administrators from 44 US journalism programmes that varied in size, prestige, location and other factors.
Both Besbris and Caitlin Petre, an assistant professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers, conducted the study in response to the massive transformations taking place in journalism, particularly in the field's labor market.
The authors found that journalism educators are very aware and sensitive to changes in the industry. The findings were published in the Journal of Social Forces.
Change Is Real, Accept It
The majority interviewed said they accept the changes in the field as a reality and see no way of returning to old models. They also agreed that students must move away from thinking about journalism as a coherent career path and instead must accept the precarious nature of their jobs.
These educators are telling their students that they don't have to, in fact, shouldn't go work for traditional news organizations - they can do temporary, contract or freelance work, or work for non-news corporations, the government, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) or almost any other place.
"For a long time journalism had been trying to cultivate the difference between journalism and PR (public relations), so it was really interesting to see this change in thinking and hear individuals say that students should prepare to work as journalists in non-news organizations," the researchers pointed out.
Swim With The Tide
Besbris also said most of the educators they interviewed stressed that students should be as entrepreneurial as possible and be willing to start their own businesses or websites. They encouraged students to not only become good writers or photojournalists but also develop the skills to do just about anything from writing and editing to recording and designing.
According to the researchers, many of these J-school professors are telling students to learn to hustle, be game for anything and even to celebrate the precariousness of the labor market.
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