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UGA survey: Small recovery in journalism/communication job market

Athens, Ga. – A slight job market improvement for 2010 graduates of the nation’s journalism and mass communication programs was tempered by news of stagnant salaries and benefits, according to a report released today by the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research.

Although spring graduates with bachelor’s degrees were more likely to leave their studies with at least one job offer, their median salary was $30,000 for the fifth straight year. After being adjusted for inflation, the median salary was actually $500 lower than a year earlier and $1,250 less than what graduates received in 2006. Master’s degree recipients saw an even more dramatic drop with a median salary of $36,200, a decline of nearly $3,000 from a year earlier.

Benefits took a hit as well with employer contributions to major medical and prescription drug coverage showing a slight drop.

These are the key findings from the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates, conducted each year in the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. The Cox Center is the international outreach unit of the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

According to Lee B. Becker, professor of journalism and director of the survey, job market improvements reported were not even across disciplines. “Graduates who had specialized in news-editorial journalism actually experienced a dramatic decline in full-time employment levels in 2010 compared with 2009. The fact that only half of them found a full-time job six to eight months after graduation is unprecedented,” he noted.

The job market for telecommunications graduates was comparable to what it had been a year earlier with about half finding work six to eight months after leaving the university. In contrast, advertising majors were much more likely in 2010 to find a full-time job than had been true in 2009. Graduates who majored in public relations had about the same level of job market success in 2010 as they did in 2009. “Clearly it was better to be an advertising or public relations graduate in 2010 than a graduate in print journalism or telecommunications,” Becker said.

Once again faring worse than anyone in the job market were racial and ethnic minority graduates. While minority bachelor’s degree recipients reported no rise in employment-from 48.6 percent in 2009 to a statistically comparable 49.1 percent in 2010-non-minority graduates saw employment levels improve from 63.9 percent to 67 percent. The gap of 18 percentage points between the level of employment of non-minority and minority graduates in 2010 is the largest ever recorded in the graduate survey.

Web work was more prominent with 2010 graduates than with 2009 graduates. Two-thirds of the degree recipients who found work in communication were involved with writing and editing for the web. Eight in 10 of the graduates with communication jobs are researching materials using the web, and more than half are using social network sites in their jobs, a sharp increase from a year earlier.

Communication technologies also played a larger role for the graduates. “They were more likely to be doing non-linear editing, photo imaging, using a video camera and producing content for mobile devices,” Becker said. “All of the differences are small, but the overall pattern is clear enough.”

Technologies were also prominent in the graduate’s personal media usage. The 2010 graduates were considerably more likely than graduates in any previous years to report they got news from a mobile device. “This is now a source of news for the graduates roughly at the same level as radio, which four in 10 report listening to,” noted Becker.

Three quarters of the graduates reported viewing news online and half read at least one blog the day before completing the survey, figures comparable to a year earlier. Use of YouTube or other video sharing sites increased sharply in 2010, with one in seven reporting this behavior. According to Becker, that puts YouTube or equivalent viewing at the same level as watching television news for the graduates.

The full report, written by Becker and fellow researchers Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox Center, and Grady graduate students Whitney Kazragis, Chelsea Toledo and Paris Desnoes, was released today at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in St. Louis. The report is available at

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, in the year after graduation. In addition, the survey tracks the curricular activities of those graduates while in college, examines their job-seeking strategies, and provides measures of the professional attitudes and behaviors of the graduates upon completion of their college studies.

Funding for the 2010 graduate survey was provided by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, Gannett, Hearst Corporation, McCormick Foundation, National Association of Broadcasters, Newspaper Association of America, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists, Scripps Howard Foundation, Specialized Information Publishers Foundation, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism, and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to 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 or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.