Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where Are The Journalism Jobs For Graduating College Students?

Last month, I went to my alma mater, American University, to speak to juniors and seniors taking an advanced journalism course. I gave my spiel, then it was time for questions and answers.

One of the students, who is graduating with a journalism degree in May, asked me if she should try to jump into the job market or get a graduate degree in journalism. I had to think long and hard about what to say. I pointed out that hiring prospects for journalism are the worst I've seen in my almost 25-year career and that a few years grad school might be enough time for the industry -- and the general economy -- to recover.

Richard Prince did a post on his Journal-isms blog April 10 entitled "Where Will J-Grads Find Jobs?" Someone must be listening to my advice, because both private and state universities are seeing an increase in applications to their graduate journalism programs.

But the bigger question is this: are these budding journalists just putting off an inevitable tough job search or will prospects really be better in the next few years? This is a question that the next board of NABJ -- along with its membership -- will struggle with in the next few years.

We already have veteran journalists with top-notch reporting skills, but not the now-required new media skills, competing with these students for jobs. The NABJ board will have to work with its members to make sure that everyone have the skills needed to thrive and prosper in the brave new world of multimedia journalism.

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