Monday, 9 November 2009

Jobs crisis in journalism education

What does a jobs crisis mean for journalism education? Are universities cynically tempting students onto journalism courses with the promise of guaranteed jobs at the end? Are there just too many journalism courses? Journalism lecturers, including myself, told that there needed to be a serious debate about the future of journalism education, especially given that there has been a 15.7 per cent rise this year in applications to undergraduate journalism courses. Reputable MA Journalism courses have also seen a big increase in postgraduate applications.

Set this against a dramatic drop-off in numbers of journalism jobs and the potential mismatch is clear. Not all these students are going to get jobs (although my university, Kingston, has an excellent record of graduate journalism employment, as points out).

This assumes, of course, that the whole object of a journalism degree is to get a job in journalism. As journalism lecturer Paul Bradshaw argues, this is not the case. If you want functional training, do an NCTJ fast track course.

Yes, there are almost certainly too many journalism courses. But higher education is market-driven and universities want income from students. As long as the students keep coming, universities will keep running journalism courses. The best thing journalism departments can do is keep updating and refreshing their courses to keep them challenging and relevant (see my previous post) and develop firm links with the industry. Then their graduates will be in with a fighting chance.

1 comment:

  1. Paradoxically of course, there are millions (literally) more publications out there now than ten years ago, billions of websites, and so the opportunities for journalists to write, be published and be read have skyrocketed.

    Plus of course, the changing nature of the world at large i.e. the fact that it is getting tangibly smaller, means the range of things which journalists can now write about has increased, as their range has increased. For example, want to be a journalist who specializes on the designer vinyl toy scene in Tokyo? You can do it now with ease, and reach an audience of millions from home.

    Instead of the need for training going down, it has in fact gone up, as more and more people tune into the noosphere to get good quality information.

    Growing up in the 90s, particularly around the Gulf War, there was an emphasis on 'information warfare' and as kids we were given a crash course lesson in propaganda and how it functions. As we grew, so did the net, and so did the conspiracy theories.

    As an avid follower of the early and others, I've become accustomed to reading for subtexts in state media, and wary of both the independent blogger and the larger mechanisms of industry, but ignorance prevails, and journalists are fighting a constant battle for their integrity, hence training is more popular and more valuable than ever.

    I regard journalism as an essential skill in my role on the net. Writing, researching, understanding the angle, and putting together a good story are all elements which drive good content, and it is not enough simple to be technical, or creative, if one is not in touch with reality and disciplined about how one processes it.

    Personally I'm a big fan of the NCTJ training, as it's practical, but I constantly am aware that I do not want to simply train to rewrite press releases, or to be cowed and bullied into the mould of a 'typical' journalist.

    One of the nice things about coming from a multimedia/creative background is that I think like a blogger, not like a print journo, so I say: "Bring on the opportunities" Journalism training is great for PR, great for reportage, great for your understanding of government, law and great for galvanizing each generation to new action!