While the journalism industry contracts, journalism programs continue to expand

If you take a look at Canada’s J-Source journalism website, under the “business of journalism” category, you would quickly conclude that journalism as an industry continues to decline. On the site you’ll find article after article on media layoffsbuyouts,dropping advertising revenue, the shuttering of regional and ethnic newspapers, and on and on (and those examples are from just the last six weeks). However, journalism programs at colleges and universities are a growth industry, said Janice Neil, an associate professor of journalism at Ryerson University and editor-in-chief of J-Source.

Ms. Neil, speaking on a panel discussion at the Worldviews 2013 conference on global trends in media and higher education June 20 in Toronto, said there are currently 50 journalism programs at postsecondary education institutions across Canada. That includes 25 universities that offer either a certificate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in journalism, according to a quick search on the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada website. And, the programs keep coming – two started within the last couple of years, the latest being a joint program offered by Trent University and Loyalist College, which started last fall. At any given time, there are 1,600 students in journalism programs in Ontario, said Ms. Neil.

This raises the obvious question of whether these journalism graduates are actually landing jobs in journalism. The data are hard to come by, but anecdotally many former journalism students say they haven’t found full-time jobs in their field and have resorted to unpaid internships and freelancing. A couple of journalism graduates, commenting during the Q&A portion of the panel discussion, complained that they’d essentially been sold a bill of goods. Reports on the plight of freelancers working for a pittance are legion. Adding to the funk, the U.S. CareerCast survey for 2013 declared newspaper reporter the worst job of the year.

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