Thursday, December 18, 2008

What to tell the journalism majors about jobs

The Albany Times Union has a story on the "man bites dog" phenomenon of presumably skeptical, critically-thinking students choosing to major in journalism when all the job news from the news industry is about layoffs and cutbacks. The story quotes Lee Becker at the University of Georgia, who says survey results show students are optimistic that their communication skills will serve them well -- on the Web, or somewhere.

Here's the story:

Who, what, when, where and why is J-school so big? -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY
"Most people studying journalism and mass communication aren't interested in careers as old-school newshounds sniffing out scandals for newspapers, magazines and TV stations.
"Some study the news as a liberal arts subject like English, and then head off to law school. Other J-school grads become public relations people who shape the news or advertising people who create the commercials that pay for it."

Becker's last survey found 2007 grads getting an average of 1.6 job offers, with a median starting salary of $30,000. "That compares with $50,507 for economics grads," says the Times Union, without speculating whether that major's star has acquired any tarnish in the past year.

The News -- Win, Lose or Draw Us a Picture

piece of New Yorker cartoonThe cartoon accompanying James Surowiecki's analysis of the decline of the printed-newspaper business (Financial Page: The New Yorker) offers a new look at the "inverted pyramid": The corner of a newspaper front page has become a funnel, with the letters of type dribbling out the bottom, leaving a blank sheet in its reader's hands. If you look closely, you can see the blackletter T of The New York Times in the pied type. The story and discussion are good too...

News You Can Lose
"For most of the past decade, newspaper companies had profit margins that were the envy of other industries. This year, they have been happy just to stay in the black.... Even online ads, which were supposed to rescue the business, have declined lately, and they are, in any case, nowhere near as lucrative as their print counterparts.
"Papers’ attempts to deal with the new environment by cutting costs haven’t helped: trimming staff and reducing coverage make newspapers less appealing to readers and advertisers. It may be no coincidence that papers that have avoided the steepest cutbacks, like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, have done a better job of holding onto readers."