Students Majoring in Journalism May Have Even More Trouble Finding Jobs Soon

A new report reveals that after decades of dwindling employment opportunities in journalism, the next 10 years continue to look bleak for newsrooms.
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  • Between 1980 and 2020, employment at newspaper publishers dropped by more than 57%.
  • Yet amid the increased shuttering of newspapers, there's been a rise in employment in broadcasting and at online media outlets.
  • Overall, journalism jobs across the board have dropped significantly, making it more difficult for graduates to find stable work.
  • Still, the economic value of a journalism degree is moderate, ranking 14th out of 34 major programs.

Employment in journalism is projected to decrease 3% by 2031, according to a new report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

Should it follow this forecast, journalism employment will have fallen 35% since the early 2000s, with a loss of more than 20,000 jobs.

The rise of the internet has caused the journalism industry to transform significantly over the last two decades. But with this transformation has been the loss of traditional newsroom work. Since 2008, newsroom journalism employment in the U.S. has fallen by 26% — primarily due to the shuttering of newspapers.

But it's not all negative for the journalism field. Amid falling rates of employment at newspaper publishers, there have been growing rates of employment in broadcasting and at online media outlets.

Still, the volume of all journalism jobs has dwindled significantly, which may make it difficult for graduates hoping to enter the field over the next decade to find reliable and steady work.

Not only are there fewer entry-level roles in the industry, but there are also far fewer people employed in management-level positions like editors. Editors used to outnumber reporters in past decades. But as of the 2010s, there is an average of three reporters to every two editors.

According to the report, despite the fact that journalism is a smaller major for college students, more than 90% of editors, news analysts, reporters, and correspondents employed in newspaper publishing have a bachelor's degree or higher. And the economic value of a journalism degree is moderate compared to other fields of study, ranking 14th out of 34 major groups.

Three years after graduating, journalism majors have median earnings net of student loan debt payments of $39,700 a year.

Among communications and media studies majors, the most common journalism major, median earnings net of debt are $54,000 three years after graduating at the top 10 programs in the U.S. Earnings are highest for these majors at Cornell University, at $63,600 a year, the report says.

At the bachelor's degree level, median earnings net of debt payments are highest for journalism graduates of George Washington University, at $52,800 a year three years after graduating.

And at the master's degree level, earnings are highest at Columbia University, at $87,600 a year three years after graduating.

In some cases, earnings for bachelor's degree-holders and master's degree-holders in journalism are the same. Because of this, experts often caution that seeking a master's degree in journalism may not be worth the financial investment.

While the field of journalism continues to evolve, interested students should research which areas show the most growth and seek roles that can lead to continued opportunities both in and outside of the field.