From the Washington Post to MarketWatch to The Atlantic, reporters have been writing stories about increased enrollments at a number of the nation’s journalism schools. Those bigger numbers are sometimes described as a “Trump Bump,” suggesting students are being drawn to the profession in the wake of the president’s criticism of the press.
Though there are no more recent nationwide numbers, any increase in enrollment for 2016 and beyond would be a big change. A Texas Tech survey published in 2017 found that between 2013 and 2015, undergraduate enrollment in the discipline nationwide dropped by 16.3 percent.
So who are these new recruits and what do we know about them? Not much, according to Brian Bowe of Western Washington University. But he believes finding out is important.
As he writes, “Journalism students represent the future of an industry that has been rocked by a series of disruptions and reorganizations since the wide public adoption of the Internet some two decades ago.”
In research Bowe presented at the World Journalism Education Conference in Paris, he shared five key reasons why students seek journalism degrees. In his survey, he found that students most often say that they:
- Want a career that allows them to be creative
- Want an opportunity to continually learn
- Want to travel for the job
- Enjoy telling stories
- Enjoy creating or developing projects
Bowe also investigated students’ attitudes about journalism’s roles, ethics and values. Students identified the following aspects as the most important, saying journalism should:
- Promote tolerance and cultural diversity
- Tell stories about the world
- Educate the audience
- Report things as they are
- Advocate for social change
According to Bowe, “understanding how students conceptualize journalism may help researchers understand the ways in which the field may be evolving.”
Bowe’s early analysis suggests that these future journalists may approach the job differently.
“Overall, these students just seem more comfortable taking an activist stance.”