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Job market for journalism, mass communication sees improvement

Amy+Johnson+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AMichael+McKisson%2C+professor+at+the+UA+School+of+Journalism%2C+teaches+his+entrepreneurial+journalism+class+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+5.+Prof.+McKisson+also+teaches+a+multimedia+class+in+the+School+of+Journalism.
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson / The Daily Wildcat Michael McKisson, professor at the UA School of Journalism, teaches his entrepreneurial journalism class on Thursday, Sept. 5. Prof. McKisson also teaches a multimedia class in the School of Journalism.

An annual survey of journalism and mass communication graduates shows a slight improvement in the job market and salaries, suggesting that the worst might have passed for the industry.

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication conducted the survey which showed higher salaries and a better employment rate for those who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

Chris Segrin, the department head of communication for the UA, said it didn’t surprise him that the market was improving.

“It’s hard to think of a company that doesn’t have a need for someone with those skills,” Segrin said. “As companies proliferate, many of them are getting wise to the idea that we need employees that have these vital skills that quite frankly aren’t part of other college training.”

The study showed that almost three out of four people graduating with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and mass communication had at least one job offer by graduation, compared to the year before.

The market hit a low in 2008, and since that year the market has been on a rebound — 73.2 percent of 2012 graduates said they had a least one job offer post graduation. Additionally, 56 percent of the bachelor’s degree graduates had a full-time job, showing improvement from 53.3 percent the year before.

“I would say according to the survey, the job situation is holding steady, which is pretty remarkable when you think about some of the changes in that have been happening, especially in the newspaper industry,” said Lisa Button, adjunct instructor and internship coordinator for the UA School of Journalism. “I think a lot of journalists are being really resourceful with trying to freelance and things like that. It’s still not easy, it can be a bit daunting, but I do see … there are jobs.”

Although the unemployment rate for journalism and mass communication bachelor degree graduates has always been higher than the unemployment rate in the job market generally, these graduates have outperformed their peers in the job market in the past four years, according to the study.

“It’s not a dramatic recovery, just like our stock market and our economy hasn’t had a huge recovery, but it’s improving,” said David Cuillier, director of the School of Journalism and president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

One of the most accurate ways to gauge the scale of this recovery is by the number of graduates who work in their field of study. In 2012, 59.7 percent of graduates said they held a job “that involves communication activities and skills related to [their] area of study in college.” This number has risen from 48.3 percent in 2009 and 54.8 percent in 2011.

“I just think the economy overall is improving and that’s probably what’s allowing that market to steady,” Button said. “I don’t think there’s anything in particular happening in the news industry causing there to be more hires.”

Salaries for these bachelor degree recipients, who mainly work in freelancing, have also been on the rise. The annual salaries for freelancing have increased from $2,600 in 2011 to $3,000 in 2012.

“As long as we interact with people in our jobs, there will always be a demand for communication, so I’m not surprised to see the market picking up in salaries,” Segrin said.

Contrary to the popular notion that journalism is dead, it’s more alive than ever, according to Cuillier.

“I would much rather be a student than a school director right now,” Cuillier said. “When I got out of school, it was kind of at the peak of legacy media and my whole career it was going down. Now, students coming out get to jump on an exciting train and see where it goes.”

-Follow Shannon Higgins @_ShannonH_

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