1997 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates


Lee B. Becker, Gerald M. Kosicki, Lance Porter, and David Watson


Students vote via their choices of majors, and, within majors, they vote via their selection of specializations. The journalism and mass communication students who earned a bachelor’s degree in
the spring of 1997–and who probably made their choices regarding specialization within journalism two
or three years earlier–voted pretty conservatively. About the same proportion of them selected print (or news-editorial) journalism as had been true among graduates of a year earlier. The same is true for roadcasting (including broadcast journalism and other forms of telecommunications), advertising and public relations. (The changes from last year shown in Figure 1 are about what would be expected due to chance fluctuations resulting from sampling.)

In fact, the long-term trend, shown in Figure 1, is for selection of one of these “big four” specializations over others offered by journalism and mass communication programs. Going back to 1992–a watershed year, in many ways, data from the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates show–journalism and mass communication graduates almost every year have been less likely to select something other than the traditional core areas of journalism education than the year before. Since 1992, the percentage of graduates selecting something other than the “big four” has dropped more than five percentage points–considerably more than chance alone due to sample error would predict.

The data shown in Figure 1 represent the responses of graduates. These are how the graduates themselves describe what they did. Data from the companion survey also conducted at the University of Georgia, the Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Enrollments, present a different picture of student interests, as indicated by how they are actually classified by program administrators. Those data show increasing classification of students into sequences other than print journalism, broadcasting (or telecommunications), advertising and public relations. The discrepancy is informative, for it probably means that the university classification scheme represents what students do with their curriculum, while their self-classification represents what they intend to do once they leave the university. They make choices at the university based on availability, convenience, flexibility and interests as they begin their studies. The describe what they did at the end in terms of their goals at that time.

The copyrighted full text of the 1997 Graduate Report is available here.

The PDF version of the charts is available here.