European Federation of Journalists

American Journalism grads facing change

The American Press Institute presented on Thursday the results of a survey of nearly 10,500 journalism and communication graduates from 22 universities across the United States. These graduates are pessimistic about the direction of news in general, but most believe their own work in the last five years has gotten better.

The survey found that while just 41% of journalism graduates are employed by news organisations, sizable minorities in other fields still look at themselves as journalists: 22% work for commercial brands, 16% in education and 14% in politics and think tanks.

Among the 36% employed in journalism organisations, there are 11% in newspaper media, 10% television, 6% magazine and 3% radio. Only 4% work for digital-only news organisations.

Pessimism. “There is a broad pessimism about the future of news among these graduates, three quarters of whom have degrees in journalism and the rest in advertising, public relations, marketing or communication. In all, just 17% think the quality of news they see has improved in the last five years. The majority of them, 66%, think it is getting worse.”

Challenges. The surveyed graduates believe the nature of information on the web is the biggest challenge facing journalism. Fully 57% think the biggest issue is “the flood of opinion and false information on the Internet.” The second challenge, cited by 44% of the graduates, is that the economic model for journalism is broken. More than a third of respondents (35%) cite media owners being too focused on profits. And 29% think media owners don’t believe quality will sell.

Skills. On a list of 23 different skills they think are important in their work, ethics ranked first (84% citing it as “very” important), nearly matched by the ability to write (also 84%).

Working conditions. Over the past five years, the most common experience for journalism and communication graduates has been taking on added duties in their existing jobs (without receiving promotions). But less than half of those surveyed (46%) say they have had a pay raise in the past five years. The biggest obstacles in people’s jobs is money or more specifically organisational resources and staffing. Half of all respondents (49%) say lack of resources is a challenge.

A PDF version of this study report is available for download: here.