Program for the 2001 National Convention of the Society of Professional Journalists

Journalism Labor Market Likely to Reflect Weakening of National Economy, Director Says

Graduates of journalism and mass communication programs in 2001 can expect a considerably more difficult job market than was experienced by graduates a year earlier, Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research told working journalists and journalism students in early October.

Dr. Becker, speaking at the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists, said he based his predictions on trends in employment over the last 15 years and the consequences of the last recession in the early 1990s on the journalism and mass communication labor market.

"The employment rate for journalism and mass communication graduates looks much like the employment rate for people 20 to 24 years old generally," Dr. Becker said. "We can expect a downturn in journalism employment reflecting the downturn in the national economy."

Dr. Becker also said that it has only been in recent years that journalism and mass communication graduates have earned salaries equal to and slightly greater than what graduates earned before the last recession, if the salaries are adjusted for inflation. He said the current downturn in the economy threatens the slight gains graduates have made the last couple of years.

Dr. Becker made his comments on October 6 in a session at the SPJ meeting titled "Show me the money: Becoming more marketable." Other participants in the session were: Robert Papper, professor, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Mike Stuckey, senior producer,, Redmond, Washington; and David Zeek, executive editor, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington.

Dr. Becker directs the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication, a survey project that monitors the journalism and mass communication labor market and is housed in the Cox Center.

The SPJ conference ran from October 4 to 6 in Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle.

While at the meeting, Dr. Becker met with Prof. Roger Simpson, director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, University of Washington, and Migael Sherer, director, the Dart Award for Reporting on Victims of Violence. The Cox Center and the Dart Center collaborated on a workshop in Papua New Guinea on media coverage of violence and trauma the following week in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Dr. Becker and Prof. Simpson discussed the plans for the Madang workshop and possible collaboration between the two Centers in the future.