Imagine you’re a senior journalism major who needs to find a job this May. Okay, maybe you don’t have to imagine. It’s a scary time to be looking for work in a business that appears to be imploding. Everywhere you look, some potential employer is laying people off or declaring bankruptcy. More than half the responses to a non-scientific poll [left] at NewsLab over the past few weeks came from people who had either lost their jobs or seen their colleagues lose theirs.
If you’ve been getting good advice all the way through school, the future may not look so bleak. But what kind of advice are journalism students getting?
Tony Rogers, who runs the journalism program at Bucks County Community College, wondered about that, so he asked. The answers, as reported in a piece Rogers wrote for about.com, are all over the map.
“Print, as we know it, is dead,” says journalism Professor Tony Chan of the University of Washington at Seattle. “I’m telling my students to find a new profession.” But Sree Sreenivasan of Columbia’s J-school is much more optimistic. “We’re very bullish on news gathering,” he says. “We’re banking our future on journalism.”
The optimists say jobs will be available in multimedia journalism in converged newsrooms, especially for entrepreneurial journalists.
Fred Bayles, director of the Statehouse Program at Boston University, says he tries to be “fairly realistic with my classes, but I’m not that much doom and gloom. Last year almost all of students in my program found jobs in the business.”
Bayles says he’s seen “lots of opportunity: Websites, multi-media driven reporting for even small newspaper websites, on-line magazines, etc. An example would be a current student who will be hired by the Globe to set up a ‘hyperlocal’ page for a specific town on boston.com. That was a job that didn’t exist before.”
Universities are still trying to figure out the best way to prepare students for what lies ahead. This week, the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University announced plans to build a “convergence laboratory.” CBS’s Bob Schieffer says the goal is to prepare students for “various platforms” because “nobody knows where journalism is going.” Now that has the ring of truth.
What’s the attitude on your campus or in your newsroom about the future?