And that counts in journalism too. In the days of Walter Cronkite and Watergate, media enjoyed a great deal of trust, but as the public got more savvy about bias that trust declined and people began to seek out alternative sources. If media are going to be biased, people believed, it might as well be biased in ways they like.
Columbia University, for example, which once sold a 2-year program in 'Environmental Journalism' for $80,000, began to feel the backlash as students discovered that when everyone was given a degree it didn't help much when it came to getting a job in newspapers no one read. At New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, their employees still try to sell the mystique of the fourth estate, but their efforts to promote their politics and their agenda against science (and for corporate segments like organic food and big pharmaceuticals) have given their reputation a hit.
Given the new reality, what are journalism teachers telling students who are going into debt to get journalism degrees (while the average male professor at NYU makes $280,000 per year)?
Work somewhere else.
Humanities scholars Caitlin Petre of Rutgers and Max Besbris of Rice surveyed 113 faculty, staff and administrators from 44 U.S. journalism programs that varied in size, prestige, location and other factors. They found that journalism schools have sought to reframe the industry's unstable labor market as inevitable - and even a desirable part of the business and its professional identity.
A degree won't lend credibility. Unlike medical school or science, no one needs a degree to be a journalist. In the past, most journalists didn't have journalism degrees. Instead, like musicians, they spent that time learning to write. Today, many journalists come out of schools with a degree and no more credibility than if they were starting new, while journalists who just jumped in have built audiences. So learn to hustle, argue most journalism teachers, and find a niche. A few dissented on that, but they were tenured academics with little real-world experience, perhaps being printed once a year in the New York Times as part of an agreement their school negotiated, who can't let go of the past.
For those who really want to be journalists, the opportunity is there. It's those who instead go into journalism 'to make a difference' for their pet cause the struggle will be difficult.
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