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Journalists of color feel greater impact of weakened job market

By Lee Becker
University of Georgia

08.09.02

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The bottom fell out of the job market for journalism and mass communication graduates in 2001 and 2002.

The percentage of students with full-time employment six to eight months after graduation dropped dramatically. In 2001, only 68.9% of those who looked for work had a full-time job, while the number was 80.3% in 2000.

Salaries also declined, as did benefits received. Bachelor's degree recipients reported earning almost a thousand dollars less a year than graduates reported earning in 2000. The median yearly salary for 2001 graduates with a bachelorís degree was $26,000.

Particularly hard hit by the weakened job market were members of racial and ethnic minorities. Their level of full-time employment dropped more dramatically than did the level of full-time employment of non-minorities, and the gap between the level of full-time employment of minorities and others widened. In 2001, 65% of minorities found full-time employment, compared to 74.9% in 2000. The rate of employment for non-minorities was 73.6% in 2001, compared to 81.8% in 2000.

These are some of the key findings of the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication, conducted in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. The findings were released yesterday at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Miami Beach. Reports released at the AEJMC meeting are now on the survey Web site.

The Freedom Forum is one of the sponsors of the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication, which are conducted in the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research in the Grady College.

Five full reports and a sixth preliminary report from the annual surveys were released at AEJMC.

Enrollments in journalism and mass communication programs across the country have continued to grow, though the rate of growth has declined from recent years, according to the research.

While about one in four of the students enrolled in journalism and mass communication programs is a member of racial and ethnic minorities, those students are unevenly distributed across the country, with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) playing a crucial role in educating African-American and Hispanic students.

While the HBCU and HACU institutions educate only 7% of all students receiving undergraduate degrees from the nationís journalism and mass communication programs, they grant more than 30% of the undergraduate journalism and mass communication degrees earned by African-American students and more than 30% of the degrees earned by Hispanic students.

The role of the HBCU institutions is particularly important at the level of doctoral instruction. One institution, Howard University, contributed almost half of the doctoral degrees earned by African-American students in the field of journalism and mass communication in 2000-2001.

Even with the contribution of Howard to doctoral education, the doctoral pipeline for faculty positions is inadequate to diversify the faculties of journalism and mass communication programs across the country.

If all the minority graduates of the nationís communication and mass communication doctoral programs had been hired to serve on the faculties of journalism programs at the end of the 2000-2001 academic year, minority representation on those faculties would have increased by less than one percentage point. Only about 16% of the faculty currently are members of racial or ethnic minorities.

Dr. Lee B. Becker is director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research in the H.W. Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Related

Diversity in hiring: Supply is there. Is demand?
Analysis Itís a myth that there are not enough minority applicants to alter the face of Americaís newsrooms, writes Lee Becker.  09.12.02

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