Minority Journalism and Mass Communication Students At All-Time High, Struggle To Find Work

The latest data on journalism and mass communication enrollments had good news about minority enrollment, but the latest survey of graduates had very bad news as the gap between minority and non-minority grads continues to widen.

ST LOUIS–  While the job situation for journalism and mass communication students has improved in 2010, the number of minority students continues to lag far behind that of non-minority students, a new study shows.

Results from the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates released Wednesday shows that journalism and mass communication graduates from racial and ethnic groups fared worse than anyone in the job market last year.

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-nonminority 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.

In reporting the results at a presentation at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference, Lee Becker, who directs the Annual Surveys at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Communication,  described this as the “dismal part of the report for this year.”

While they were not finding work with the same level of success as non-minority students, the number of students from racial and ethnic minority groups was at all-time high in the 2010 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollments.

36.3 percent of students were classified as racial or ethnic minorities.

In explaining further the up-tick in enrollment, yet the continuing struggle of minority students to gain employment, Becker said there are factors that are not necessarily explained in the numbers in the latest surveys.

“There are things ingrained in the system that work against minority students,”  he said.

Among them are contacts within professional networks, being first-time college students, increased tuition costs that force more students of color to work instead of taking what are increasingly likely to be unpaid internships.

These factors influence one’s preparation for work.

According the Becker, his research has shown that minority students equally prepared for work as non-minority students get hired at the same level as non-minority students.

JMC Faculty Diversification Outlook Bleak

In a separate study on doctoral programs in communication, racial and ethnic minorities were few in 2008-2009 with African-Americans making up only 9.4 percent of domestic graduates with only two percent Hispanic.

“Journalism and mass communication faculties are not going to become more diverse any time soon if they rely on the labor pool created by the nation’s doctoral programs in communication,” the report said.

When asked about how to address the problem of the lower number of students from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, Becker made several suggestions:

1. More aggressive recruiting is needed to attract minority students to pursue graduate level work.

2. More talk among faculty to students about the value of scholarship and academic research to the field of communication

3. More efforts to raise awareness among minority students about the value of a graduate education.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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