More J-School Grads Getting Shut Out of News Jobs that Still Pay Just $30,000

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

The median salary paid a new graduate of a journalism and mass communications remained at $30,000 for the fourth consecutive year, but those jobs are now scarcer than they’ve been for j-school grads since 1987.

At daily newspapers, the median starting salary was $27,000, and at weeklies, new grads were paid a median salary of $25,000.

That’s according to the Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates conducted since 1987 by Lee D.. Becker director of the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. 

New grads starting in union jobs made more than their non-union counterparts – but the gap has narrowed considerably. In 2008, for instance, union jobs started at a median of $34,400 while non-union jobs paid a median $30,000.

In 2009, non-union jobs were stuck at $30,000, but the union job pay declined to $30,700.

Only 46.2% of the bachelor’s degree recipients had a job on Oct. 31, 2009, which was more than 10 percentage points fewer than a year earlier, the survey found. About a quarter were working part-time, and another quarter were unemployed.

Racial and ethnic minority journalism graduates had a particularly difficult time finding a job, the survey found. Their full-time employment rate dropped 13.5 percentage points from the year-ago survey.

And the gap between the percentage of minority and non-minority graduates in terms of full-time employment was 15.3 points – the widest-yawning gap since 1987.

There was some good news/bad news results in the salary survey. On the one hand, the median salary was unchanged, while the average starting salary offer to all college graduates declined 1.9% from the year before, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported last September.

On the other hand, that average salary at $48,663 was far higher than for cub journalists. And the average graduate with a liberal arts bachelor’s degree also did better than j-school grads, with an offer of $36,624.

The graduate survey produced one bit of good news, according to Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the survey. Graduates reporting on their job searches in the late spring of 2010 were much more likely to have found a full-time job than were graduates reporting at the end of 2009.

The full report, available here and written by Becker and fellow researchers Dr. Tudor Vlad, Paris Desnoes and Devora Olin, was released today at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Denver.

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