There is plenty of evidence for gloom: the newspaper industry is the fastest-shrinking of them all, and the online ad shares of newspapers have sunk to an all-time low. Hopefully, two studies released this week will help lower your blood pressure; auspicious statistics are a rare commodity these days.
As I’ve written about before, studying journalism may not be such a bad idea. A new study from Georgetown University showed that it’s certainly no worse than studying social science, arts, architecture or law and public policy. Recent graduates with journalism degrees had a 7.7 percent unemployment rate (lower than the aforementioned areas of study), with architecture faring the worst at 13.9 percent. Like any other industry, the unemployment rate in journalism decreased with experience and the attainment of a graduate degree. On average, recent grads can expect $32,000, which increases to $58,000 with experience, and $66,000 after graduate studies. The fields with the lowest unemployment rates were health and education, both at 5.4 percent.
As Andrew Beaujon wrote, this is good news especially in light of all the “morale-plunging speeches” recently given by some in the industry. Roger Ailes recommended that young journalists change their majors, Malcolm Gladwell described newspapers as “dreary, depressed places” and Tucker Carlson told a group of aspiring writers, “You can’t be most things that you want to be. Why? Because you’re not capable of it.” Ouch. As Francesca Chambers reported, he also thinks college is a waste of time. But as the Georgetown study shows, even a journalism degree bodes better prospects, considering the national unemployment rate is currently at 8.2 percent.
In other good news, The Newspaper Association of America analyzed data from comScore to find that newspaper website traffic had a 4.4 percent increase in the first quarter of 2012, and a 10 percent increase in average daily visitors. In the 18 to 24 age group, average daily visitors grew by 10 percent, and for 21 to 34-year-olds, average visits grew by 17 percent. With all the fretting over young people and their apathy towards news, perhaps it really isn’t as bad as it seems. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should all stop worrying: journalists, now more than ever, have a responsibility to promote news literacy.