Dr. Claes de Vreese, professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research.

U.S. Survey Project Relevant for Romania, Research Team Argues

Enrollments in university programs in Journalism and Mass Communication in the United States have not declined despite the weakness of specific segments of the job market because of the general importance of communication in a modern society, because of the appeal of the field to women, and because of the robustness of public relations as an occupation.

That is the opinion of Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia.

He and Dr. Tudor Vlad, both experts on journalism and mass communication education, gave their overview of the field during a two-day international conference organized by the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest in collaboration with the Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission.

Drs. Becker and Vlad were invited to the conference to talk about the “History and Methodology of the Annual Surveys of Journalism and Mass Communication and their Relevance for Romania.”

They made their comments in an afternoon session on Nov. 12, the first day of the conference, held at the facilities of the National School in Bucharest and attended by more than 100 scholars and communication practitioners.

Dr. Becker said that the field of journalism and mass communication in the U.S. has conducted a survey of enrollments every year since 1934 because it has been important to the field to demonstrate its attractiveness to students in order to obtain university resources.

The field started conducting a survey of the success of students of journalism and mass communication once they enter the job market in 1964, Dr. Becker said, because it was important for those programs to be able to demonstrate to students and their parents that the graduates could find work once they completed their studies.

The information about the job market was used to recruit students, Dr. Becker said, and the number of students in the curriculum was important as a means of getting university resources.

Dr. Vlad told the group that he believed a similar project would be of value to Romanian programs now offering journalism and mass communication programs, particularly in a time of diminished resources for education in the country.

The field of journalism expanded over the years to include instruction in public relations and advertising as a means of increasing enrollments, Dr. Becker said. Not only were these programs popular with students generally, he said, but they were particularly popular with female students, who have been coming to the university in increased numbers in the last 30 years.

Dr. Becker took responsibility for the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates in 1987 and the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollments a year later.

The surveys now are housed in the Cox International Center, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, and funded by professional organizations and foundations associated with the various occupations of journalism and mass communications.

Dr. Claes de Vreese, professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam, and Dr. Martin Loeffelholz, professor at the Institute of Media and Communication Science of Ilmenau University of Technology in Germany, gave the two keynote addresses of the conference.

Dr. De Vreese summarized his research on media coverage of the parliamentary elections while Dr. Loeffelholz discussed the role of the nation state in determining communication structure.

In the second day of the conference, Drs. Vlad and Becker met with doctoral students at the National School, who summarized their research and proposed research projects. The U.S. researchers critiqued the work and offered suggestions.

At the outset of the conference, the Center for Research in Communication in the College of Communication and Public Relations at the National School released a volume of studies, “Globalization and Changing Patterns in the Public Sphere.”

The volume contained a report of a study conducted by Center Director Dr. Nicoleta Corbu, Dr. Becker, and University of Georgia doctoral student Qingmei Qing on options for sample frames in studies of voting behavior.

The paper was the result of a research collaboration that took place during the 2008-2009 academic year, when Dr. Corbu was a Fulbright scholar in the Cox Center at the University of Georgia.

The researchers found that it is possible to use voter registration lists in the U.S. in combination with online directories to conduct inexpensive surveys of samples that closely match the characteristics of the population of registered voters.