Fewer journalists? No, more

Applications are up for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where I teach. But it’s a new school, so that might stand to reason. But they’re also up at least one other and much older J-school in New York. And they’re up at J-schools in the U.K. Lots of possible reasons: Business school doesn’t look so good anymore. Entry-level journalists try to leapfrog other competitors by getting a degree. Young people recognize the need for journalism. Note well that even as newspapers moan and mourn, more people see opportunities in journalism.

  • But will they find jobs once they’ve shelled out all that money for tuition?

    • Our students are doing well. And we’re teaching them to start businesses as well (I teach a course in entrepreneurial journalism for that reason and to teach journalists their business).

      • Are they taking jobs, or creating businesses primarily in marketing?

  • My class has extremely low expectations on working in the world of traditional media, so we’re plodding down the path of creating independent journalists. “Go forth and make media,” is my charge to them. So, Jeff, my hope is that the world of the amateur is being invaded by the world of the professional, or, put another way, the personal media revolution has room for everybody, even the people formerly known as professional journalists.

  • If journalist school enrollment numbers are increasing, it means there is still passion and belief in journalism – just not the kind we may once have known. I also suspect most of the new students are of a generation where web-based journalism/news is already the norm, so an entrepreneurial approach would sit well.

    I’m a journalist who trained at a news agency in the late 90’s when it was still all about the print media. My experience was phenomenal and I learned a great deal for which I will always be very grateful.

    However, even back then I saw a chasm between ‘news’ I was witnessing in communities and what got in the papers… There were many reasons for this (political/editorial/PR/owners/personalities etc) but a huge factor was because the platform (print) could only accommodate so much ‘news’ in any one edition.

    The internet solved this. But it’s also inevitably forced a change in the way we create, share and consume news, from the old style of top down to being blown wide open. And it’s taken many in the biz by surprise.

    As a result, the tectonic plates of news and journalism are shifting. We can complain all we like – it’s scary and for many sad after all; there are thousands upon thousands of people who’s livelihoods are under threat – from the printers and the distributors to the small news stands and paperboys/girls(!), let alone the journalists…

    Traditions are being swept aside. But it’s happening and it is real.

    It means new, entrepreneurial models have to be considered, and tried out – time after time until the plates settle again. Indeed, the old days of journalism will probably never appear again. But this is why new ideas and approaches in teaching journalism should be applauded.

  • I hate to be the curmudgeon here, but grad school apps are up across the board. That’s just what happens when the economy’s in the tank. I wonder whether j-school apps are up versus other kinds of grad schools. Also, fwiw, although business school probably does look less attractive all else equal, its applicants might be up just because bankers and traders and so on have had disproportionately many layoffs.

  • BarneyS

    If you look at the UCAS figures the 24% rise in applications for journalism courses is much bigger than for most other subjects. It’s on a par with things like biotechnology and computer science, subjects which you’d expect to be extremely popular.

    My admittedly negative take on this is that the surge in applications is at least partly down to journalists who have lost their jobs and are deciding to train up and re-enter the job market when the economy has recovered. That said, the only piece of evidence I can lend in support of this is that UCAS applications for creative writing courses (presumably also attractive to out-of-work hacks) are also up by around 20%. What would really help is a breakdown of the journalism applications by age, and some harder figures from the States.

    As for people deciding between business and journalism schools, I find that hard to believe. My experience is that with a few notable exceptions journalists and businessmen are very different animals, with often conflicting values. Read “What I Learned at Harvard Business School” and you’ll see what I mean.

    I think the interesting question this raises is what will these people do when they graduate? The media industry will emerge from the downturn in a very different shape to the one it’s in now: IMO more slimline and much more competitive. Will there be enough jobs to go round? I do wonder.

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