Journalism students with high motivations and low expectations about their professional future

A large percentage of students who attend journalism and communication courses in Portugal do not believe in the possibility of finding their first job in their training area. Even so, the motivation for the course is high. The conclusion is from a study carried out by two researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC).

A survey of 1091 students who attended 38 bachelor’s or master’s courses in journalism and media, in public and private national higher education institutions, in the 2020-2021 academic year, reveals that 65.1% of students consider it totally unlikely, very unlikely or unlikely to find the first job in journalism. Also, 66.6% admit the same type of improbability with regard to getting a stable employment contract in the profession and 69.2% consider the same with regard to the probability of having a salary consistent with the statute and the type of tasks to be performed.

Despite all the difficulties, the study, carried out by João Miranda and Carlos Camponez, from the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the University of Coimbra, indicates that only 2.9% of students admitted the possibility of dropping out of the course to enter another training area. . These data “may be all the more relevant as only 9.9% of the students who responded to the survey said they did not intend to work in journalism”, the researchers say.

«There is a paradox among students who attend journalism and communication courses in Portugal. If, on the one hand, students demonstrate high motivational indices when choosing their courses, on the other hand, it appears that expectations regarding their achievement as journalists are low», they note.

The study, which aimed to characterize young people who choose journalism and understand their motivations, expectations and perspectives on the profession, also concludes that «among the motivations that led students to enter courses, reasons such as the desire for development stand out. personal and professional, the existence of interesting training curricula or the desire to pursue a career in the field of social communication».

The survey also reveals that more than 90% of respondents agree, strongly agree or totally agree with the idea that journalism takes on the functions of a “public service”, a “means of education” or a “public discussion forum”. As for the role of journalists, respondents favour functions such as “communicating information issued by public authorities”, “informing about political events and their consequences” or “informing consumers”.

The study also sought to identify these students’ habits of consumption of journalistic information. The answers reveal «students’ concerns with the regular monitoring of current news, while at the same time showing a strong presence of social networks as their main sources of information. Only 0.9% of the responses do not show any kind of agreement with the idea that it is essential to follow the news and only 5.4% consider that journalism and social communication students do not have a particular obligation to follow the news », point out João Miranda and Carlos Camponez.

With regard to the means that these students use the most to keep up with the news, online channels of the media and television news appear 97.9% and 96.4%, respectively, of the students surveyed, report informing yourself in these media at least once a week. Then follow the social network “Instagram” and the platform “YouTube” – 90.0% and 88.9%, respectively, of respondents, indicate that they consult these media at least once a week, as a way of keeping up with the news. Only 38.5% of students admit to regularly paying for journalistic information.

João Miranda and Carlos Camponez consider that the results of this study contribute to «understanding a multidimensional reality, which involves, by way of example, the contemporary changes in journalism induced by communication and information technologies; the impacts of these changes on the social mediation function of journalism; the economic and socio-professional problems in which it is involved; finally, the contexts and challenges of journalism training itself».

Of the 1091 respondents, 804 respondents are female. Most individuals in the sample are aged between 18 and 23 years.

The results of this study are presented in the book “Students of Social Communication in Portugal – Expectations and perspectives on journalism”, available online. This is a second study published by Sopcom – Portuguese Association of Communication Sciences. The first was carried out last year by the Inter-University Network for the Study of Journalists (RIEJ), on the impact of Covid-19 on journalism.

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