Tracking Media

Think newspaper jobs are gone? Think again.


The field of Mass Communication/journalism is arguably one of the most competitive and transitional right now yet over half of all job openings in a study conducted by Media Milwaukee for aspiring professionals were in traditional newspaper positions.


Collecting media job posting data online via three major national career search websites from September 1, 2009 to October 30, 2009 the team found:


·         89.3 percent of postings are for full-time employment

·         69.2 percent of all postings are for employment as an editor, reporter, or writer

·         68.9 percent of online postings do not require prior professional experience

·         58.8 percent of postings do not require a college degree

·         53.8 percent of all job postings are in the newspaper industry


Traditional media jobs, defined by the journalistic team as those that include search words: media, television, radio, broadcasting, editor, proofreader, magazine, journal, photographer, reporter, writer, or columnist, constitute nearly 80 percent of all postings.


This finding cements preconceptions of aspiring journalists like University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) senior Jessica Gaskey.


“There seems to be an open market for print newspaper jobs,” says Gaskey who hopes to ultimately work for a production company after graduation.


Non-traditional media jobs, defined by the journalistic team as those including search word: blog, zine, marketing, public relations, advertising, page/graphic designer, and website, flesh out the remaining 20 percent.


Initially collecting data from websites like the postings were severely scattered, vague in description, and ultimately immeasurable. Deciding to use media specific job search websites,,, and, the investigative team recorded 318 postings from all 50 states.


A media job is any position, part-time, full-time or freelance containing any of the keywords related to traditional and non-traditional definitions.


Using the compiled data the investigative team’s findings are surprising given all the talk of paradigm shifts in mass media traditions.




The number one industry far and away for those seeking media positions is print/newspaper compiling 171 postings. In a distant second with 56 total postings equaling 17.6 percent overall is the online/web media industry.


With most non-traditional jobs falling into this latter industry it seems like an unexpected runner-up. However as University of Wisconsin Student Career Center Director Leslie Kohlberg explains current employers are constantly looking at the web as a more useful media tool.


“Many companies need to enhance their Internet presence. Skills related to interactive media add value,” says Kohlberg, “but writing, research, analytical, and interpersonal communications remain essential.”


The third most advertised field for job seekers is Broadcast (radio and television) with 31 postings, 9.7 percent overall. Ranked fourth and fifth among industries are magazine publishing with 24 postings, 7.5 percent overall and jobs in academia with 10 postings, 3.1 percent overall respectively.


Types of Jobs


With nearly 90 percent of all media job postings seeking full-time positions part-time, contracted, and freelance work make up a very small percent of online job postings.


Over 200 different job titles were catalogued but two titles in particular make up 69.2 percent of all help wanted ads. Postings seeking a Reporter/Writer total 118 overall. Available positions for editors add up to 102 separate postings.


Journalism/mass communication students like UWM’s Elisabeth Johnson are still critical of their chosen career path.


“It’s a fricking graveyard,” says Johnson, “only the best are finding jobs. It takes a lot of internships and connections to get a good job.”




Thousands of students nationwide, pocketing audio recorders, notebooks, and thesauruses, cram into collegiate halls semester after semester. Pajama pants and hooded sweatshirt is the ensemble of choice for these pupils of journalism. With so much time spent phoning sources and formulation open records requests self grooming takes a backseat to sleep.


Drinking countless cups of coffee and whittling away pink erasers daily these students hone their research skills and enhance their visibility to publishers. Four years later they all hope to leave with a journalism degree in hand and a secured career in front of them.


Truth of the matter is less-than-half of all media job postings, 41.2 percent, require a bachelors degree or higher. Of the 131 employers specifying candidates have a college level degree 39.7 percent, insist on a four year journalism degree.


Coincidentally the exact same amount of postings, 39.7 percent, specify candidates have a four year degree in a variety of studies including business, film, design, English, and political science to fill similar job openings.


This shift in the way degrees are looked at by employers and used after graduation is becoming essential to the current and future employment market.


Director of Student Career Services at the University of Minnesota Robin Stubblefield notices the trend in her advisees, saying, “In general, I think everyone needs to be creative and flexible about their approach to jobs and careers in addition to branching out into areas that they may not have previously considered,” says Stubblefield.


Beyond bachelor degrees seven employers require a Ph.D or Masters degree while three employers specify a High school degree.




On postings from page designer to senior scholar virtually every one insists on strong writing and editing background.


Over 50 percent of employers desire candidates with proficiency in multimedia integration be it specific software (Quark or Final Cut Pro), audio/video production equipment, or multifaceted online news packages. One posting for a meteorologist in Baltimore required candidates to write, shoot, edit, and post online their daily weather reports.


Past experience is another common request found in online job postings. Over 31 percent of employers (99 total) specify professional experience on their help wanted ads.


Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Suburban Editor Michael Juley believes that field experience can be just as important as a degree.


Combining both during college is the best thing to do,” says Juley, “Get work in your field during college, no matter whether it pays or not. Show that you can balance a full class load and work, and do well at both.”


Of these 99 postings 9.7 percent specify at least five years, 7.9 percent require at least 3 years, 7.2 percent require at least two years, 5 percent require at least one year, and 1.3 percent require at least ten years of professional experience.




Only 46 of all employers posting, 14.5 percent, give a yearly salary projection in their postings. Of the 46 advertised the average nationwide salary equals $30, 258.67 for online media job seekers.


A slightly larger number of 16.4 percent (52 total) listed “negotiable” under salary headings.


Differing expectations come from three UWM journalism students in regards to post-college career compensation.


Jessica Gaskey is most in line with the investigation’s findings, “I have no idea but I would have to say about $30,000” says Gaskey.


Both Laura Kezman and Elisabeth Johnson seem pessimistic about their future paydays.


“I will probably be envious of Burger King employees,” says Kezman.


Johnson adds, “I’ll [be making enough] to still be living with my parents until I’m forty.”


Disbursement of Job Postings


Three of the top five states to find online job postings for media jobs are situated on the east coast.


Peculiarly Michigan ranks fifth in media job postings despite having the highest unemployment rate in the United States, 15.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Front Page Milwaukee ranks the top five states:


·         California 18.2 percent with 58 total postings

·         New York 9.4 percent with 30 total postings

·         Maryland 5.7 percent with 18 total postings

·         Massachusetts4.4 percent with 14 total postings

·         Michigan 3.5 percent with 11 total postings


Searching the internet for a job is an increasingly popular way to land a career. However Robin Stubblefield believes under current economic conditions a diversified approach to finding a job is best.


“The internet allows you to see actual posted positions but millions of other people can apply. Face-to-face searching can seem like it takes more energy but you have an opportunity to uncover jobs that you didn't know about.”

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