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Survey reflects sluggish job market for journalism and mass communication grads

UGA survey of journalism and mass communication graduates reflects sluggish job market

Athens, Ga. – The sharp downturn in the national economy, coupled with the collapse of the economic model for media industries, had significant impact on the 2008 job market for graduates of journalism and mass communication programs, according to a report released today by the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research.

Data from the Cox Center’s Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates found that job interview opportunities had declined, job offers upon graduation were down and full-time employment levels were at their lowest point since 1986.

Lee B. Becker and Tudor Vlad, who direct the study, released the results today at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Boston. Becker is professor of journalism in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and director of the Cox Center, while Vlad serves as associate director of the center.

“Only six in 10 of the graduates had full-time employment six to eight months after graduation,” noted the UGA researchers in the report. That is the lowest level of full-time employment reported in the 23-year modern history of the annual survey.

The only “good news” for 2008 graduates who managed to find work was that salaries were stagnant and they received the same average salary ($30,000) as graduates a year earlier, the survey found.

At the same time, they suffered a significant loss in terms of employer-paid benefits compared to what was reported by 2007 graduates. Employers were less likely to pay all of basic medical, major medical, prescription drug or disability than a year before. They were also less likely to pay for dental coverage, life insurance, maternity and paternity leave, child care and retirement.

The Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates is designed to monitor the employment rates and salaries of graduates of journalism and mass communication programs in the United States, including Puerto Rico. Since 1997, the survey has been conducted by UGA’s Grady College.

In 2008, 2,542 spring graduates receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a probability sample of 86 universities around the country participated in the survey.

While the data paints a dreary picture for journalism and mass communication graduates, there is evidence that some felt the pain more than others. Students who studied public relations found the 2008 job market to be considerable less hostile than those who studied for print media jobs, for telecommunication jobs, or even for advertising jobs.

Of the public relations graduates, nearly 71 percent had a full-time job when they returned the survey, compared with 65 percent of advertising graduates, 59 percent of print journalism graduates, and 57 percent of telecommunications graduates.

In their report, Becker and Vlad noted that “graduates who found work were more likely to report they took their job because it was the only one available and less likely to say they were doing what they wanted to do.” Job satisfaction declined from 2007 when the percentage of employed graduates who said they were “very satisfied” was at a record high of 42 percent-a figure that dropped to 37 percent among 2008 graduates.

The study found that, as in past years, women had more success in the job market in 2008 than did men, and minority graduates were less likely to land a job generally and to find a job in the field of communication than were non-minority graduates.

The complete report is available at

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to WNEG-TV, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see

The Cox Center is the international outreach unit of the Grady College. Its annual surveys of journalism and mass communication are used extensively in the center’s international programming. For additional information on the Cox Center, see