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Just one quarter of journalism grads find a job in media

Three-quarters of journalism graduates fail to land a job in the industry, despite courses typically costing young Australians $19k.

The new analysis, obtained by Mumbrella, is derived from a survey of 120,000 former students across all subjects, taken four months after studies finish.

Click to read January’s original Graduates Outcomes Survey

Mumbrella’s investigation raises concerns universities are enrolling too many young people and failing to prepare them adequately for what opportunities exist.

We can also report that, despite the huge number of redundancies in the industry this decade, the amount of students studying the subject has held steady at 4,800 a year – a slight increase from 4,700 in 2010.

The revelations are the second in a week-long Mumbrella investigation into how journalism is becoming a profession dominated by the wealthy. The full details will be published tomorrow.

The 2017 Graduates Outcomes Survey, published in January 2018, is a national online survey among ex-students of 97 universities and higher education institutions.

A total of 120,747 responses were collected across all subjects, representing a response rate of 45%. Ex-students were quizzed between November to December 2016 and May to July 2017.

In total, four months after graduating, 71.8% of those surveyed were employed full-time working in managerial or professional occupations.

However, for the first time, today’s new analysis reveals the success of those wanting to work as journalists.

Of the 512 journalism graduates surveyed, just 26.1% were subsequently employed in the industry. It is unknown how many of the remaining respondents acquired jobs in adjacent roles such as PR.

Mumbrella can also report that despite the number of jobs in the industry seemingly decreasing, the number of young people signing up for pricey courses has remained stable.

In 2016, the last year total figures are available, 4,787 young people enrolled in a journalism course, compared to 4,692 in 2010. Recently, numbers peaked at 5,202 in 2014.

Currently, students in Australia have their fees subsidised by the government, and pay only what is known as a “student contribution amount”. While there are slight variations depending on the course and number of units (or modules) per year, a typical humanities student will likely pay $6,444 a year or $19,332 in total for a three-year degree.

Speaking as part of tomorrow’s full Mumbrella investigation, former The Daily Telegraph editor Garry Linnell questioned whether a university education is necessarily the best preparation for a journalism job.

He said: “I don’t think it really matters if you come out of university or not if you’re keen enough and curious enough. People mature at different ages and I don’t think you’re going to have one catch-all philosophy which says that, ‘OK, you need a university degree to get a job on our staff.’”

Former The Daily Telegraph editor and ex-Fairfax cadet Garry Linnell

Postman’s son Linnell started his career as a cadet at The Age in the ’80s, but was one of three hired straight from high school, a practice largely unheard of in 2018.

It also stands in contrast to the new Fairfax training scheme, which requests students are “tertiary qualified”.

“If you see the crap being taught in some of these so-called journalism schools, then I’d much rather pull some kid out of year 12 and say, ‘Off you go for a couple of years and we’re going to skill you up,’” Linnell continued.

“These so-called J-schools… some of them are good, some of them are really doing some good stuff. But I tell you what, they’re very, very patchy and they should be so much better.

“Why does it take three or four years to get a journalism degree? It shouldn’t take that long, sitting in a classroom, listening to a tutor, going along one and a half days a week. They could easily graduate someone in 18 months or 12 months, no doubt about it. But then there would be fewer fees.”

Join us at Mumbrella’s Publish conference on September 20th, where we will be discussing the state of the journalism industry in our panel: ‘Has Journalism Become a Profession For the Rich?’ Details are available here.

This was the second instalment in a week-long series. Also read:

Monday (news): Broadcasters and publishers escape punishment for illegal internships

Wednesday (main feature): Journalism is becoming a profession for only the rich – so why won’t anyone talk about it?

Thursday (opinion): Degrees? Internships? No – all savvy journos require is ratlike cunning and a plausible manner

Friday (podcast – 28:30): Mumbrellacast – Illegal internships exposed

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