Dr. Tudor Vlad presents results of Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates.

Cox Center Researchers Tell Educators Journalism Job Market Weakened in 2008

The sharp downturn in the national economy and the collapse of the economic model for media industries had significant impact on the job market that the 2008 journalism and mass communication graduates entered as they completed their studies, researchers from the University of Georgia reported in early August.

Significantly fewer of the 2008 graduates had “at least one job offer on graduation, were able even to land a job interview, or find full-time employment” in comparison with the graduates of a year earlier, the researchers told fellow journalism educators at a conference in Boston.

Only six in 10 of the graduates had full-time employment six to eight months after graduation, the research team reported. That is the lowest level of full-time employment reported by graduates of the nation’s journalism and mass communication programs in the 23-year modern history of the Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates.

The Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates and the companion Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Enrollments are housed in the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia.

The Cox Center is the international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The Cox Center makes extensive use of the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication in its international programming activities.

Drs. Lee B. Becker and Tudor Vlad, director and associate director of the Cox Center, released the results of their work at a special session of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, meeting Aug. 5 to 8 at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. Approximately 2,000 educators, mostly from the U.S., attended the conference.

The results of the annual enrollment survey, a census of journalism and mass communication programs in the U.S., showed that the number of students enrolled in those programs increased slightly even though the job market has been weak for graduates in recent years.

The study found that Enrollments in U.S. journalism and mass communication programs increased by 0.8 percent in the autumn of 2008, compared with a year earlier. That growth rate was lower than the 2.4% growth rate from 2006 to 2007 but higher than the 0.2% growth rate from 2005 to 2006.

The University of Georgia researchers also released data of a study of doctoral programs in the broad field of communication at the Boston conference. They reported that the number of programs is growing, and that the students in those programs are become more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity.

The research team devoted more attention to the experiences of graduates of the journalism and mass communication program in the Boston session than to the findings of the enrollment study.

As recently as 2000, three-quarters of those graduates of these programs reported full-time employment when they returned the survey instrument, the research team reported. One year ago, seven in 10 reported having full-time employment.

The drop in the level of full-time employment–from 70.2 percent of graduates in 2007 to 60.4 percent in 2008–is the largest change recorded in levels of employment in the 23 years that the same methodology has been used to track these statistics, Drs. Becker and Vlad said.

“The job market that had plummeted after its peak in 2000 and had begun to improve in 2003 simply crashed,” the researchers said.

The only good news for 2008 graduates was that those who did find work received the same average salary as graduates a year earlier. With deflation, that actually represented a very slight increase in purchasing power capability, the team noted.

The research team consisted of Drs. Becker and Vlad and graduate students Devora Olin, Stephanie Hanisak and Donna Wilson. Olin accompanied Drs. Becker and Vlad to the Boston meeting and assisted with the presentations.