What does the future hold for college journalism programs?

Posted by Stephanie Gaub

The Southern Institute of Technology has just announced that it’s dropping its journalism program after 16 years, saying it is unlikely that the program will ever return to their campus.  SIT is one of many schools experiencing declining interest in the field of journalism.

According to a study done by the University of Georgia in 2014, enrollment at Columbia College Chicago and Indiana University-Bloomington has been falling in recent years as well.

Kaua‘i Community College in Hawaii announced today that it will be shutting down it’s student newspaper at the end of this semester, after more than 30 years of production.

With so many schools struggling we are faced with a difficult question. What is the future of college journalism programs?

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When I decided to major in journalism in college, many of my friends were surprised. They asked me why I would want to do that, saying that I would end up living in a cardboard box on the side of the road because it is a dying career field.

I disagree completely.

The world of journalism does look different than it did 30 years ago. But that doesn’t mean it’s a dying field.

As technology evolves, journalism evolves with it. People thought the sale of books would decrease or die altogether when e-books came out, but that hasn’t happened.  Books remain relevant to our world even with continued changes in technology and media. 

What will the field of journalism look like in 30 more years? Is the outlook as bleak as statistics show? Will this field be able to keep up with the continuous changes in society and in technology?

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5 responses to “What does the future hold for college journalism programs?

  1. I agree with your assessment that journalism evolves as technology does. We’ll always be in need of people to update the content we’re constantly consuming. I honestly can’t even imagine what the field will look like 30 years from now because I’m sure technology will have changed to much by then. But as long as journalists continue to adapt, I don’t think the future is as bleak as the statistics predict.

    And with the statistics you mentioned, I’d be interested to know if enrollment is only down in the journalism programs, or if there’s a bigger issue with the rising cost of tuition.

    • Hi @teisenhauer,
      We can only speak for our own Institute, but we have had declining numbers in some programmes only. Other programmes, especially in sectors such as technical trades, engineering, project management, arts & film and health have continued strong interest and growth in enrolments.

      It’s a real shame we can no longer offer a journalism programme, but it’s possibly not all bad news for the wider sector, as our new distance learning programmes in Professional Communications have proven very popular and perhaps it indicates a shift in the focus of education people are seeking from an industry specific qualification to a more general business one. The Professional Communications programmes are also higher level (Bachelor levels 5-7 and Graduate level 7) compared to the on-campus level 5 Diploma in Journalism.

      Regards the fees – the Southern Institute of Technology is renown in New Zealand for our Zero Fees Scheme, which means most of our students are able to study with us without having to pay tuition fees. While the costs of being a student are significant beyond just tuition, the Zero Fees Scheme does mean the cost of the programme is less of a factor when students are selecting their education.

      We hope that’s of some interest to you, and thanks for taking an interest!

      kind regards,
      Southern Institute of Technology

  2. Molly Lamoureux

    Taylor proposes a legitimate answer to the decline of journalism enrollment, but I had a different idea. Maybe the people telling their friends they’ll end up living in a cardboard box if they pursue the field are making a difference. Without being completely educated on the matter – understanding the strong direction toward technology and online publications – journalism pursuers drop their majors or completely nix the idea before even enrolling, because they just assume print is going out of style.

    I think information needs to be shared with these aspiring journalists; information about how magazines, newspapers, etc still hire people and are more successful now than in past years because of social media, podcasts, Youtube, and email subscriptions.

    I think the problem lies in the discouragement of journalism majors from uninformed counterparts, and that needs to stop.

    • Molly, I think that’s a really interesting perspective! I would be interested to see what would happen if this information was shared with aspiring journalists. I agree that discouragement of certain majors needs to stop. I am majoring in History and English along with my Magazines major, and have gotten a similar reaction from people regarding those two majors.

  3. While the field of print journalism may be supposedly dying, I think that people will continue to need news on a daily basis. Or, at least I hope they will. In order to stay up to date on current events, people need news sources, and that demand will keep publications alive.

    I agree that the field is changing, and I think journalists as well as consumers are adapting to that change. More often than not I hear of people that need a physical book to read rather than an electronic one, and I have a feeling that transfers to publications as well. I know that I like picking up a physical newspaper more than scrolling through an electronic one. For these reasons, I’m not worried about the field of journalism. It’s merely adapting, not dying.

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