Money & Business

American Press Institute Conducts Largest-Ever Journalism Survey

By / Aug 14, 2015 (AndreyPopov/ThinkStock)

In an attempt to define 21st-century journalism and identify the challenges journalists face today, the American Press Institute carried out what’s thought to be the largest survey ever of J-school and communications graduates. Dive into some of API’s findings.

News flash: Journalism in 2015 looks lot different than it did 30, 20, and even 10 years ago. Newspapers are still around, but they’re struggling. Content marketing is on the rise. And social media is becoming the go-to news source for all Americans—not just millennials.

So where do these trends leave journalists? And how do those professionals define what journalism even means in 2015?

That’s what the American Press Institute set out to learn in its survey of more than 10,000 journalism and communications graduates spanning two generations and hailing from 22 U.S. universities. It’s thought to be the largest survey ever conducted of people who majored in media or communications. The findings of the “Facing Change” survey, released by API last week, confirmed what a lot of media professionals already casually knew: Present-day journalism is all over the map.

More than a third (35 percent) of the graduates surveyed said they produce what would be considered journalism. Yet, many of those same respondents do not work for a traditional news organization. For example, 17 percent of the respondents employed by commercial brands said they consider their work journalism, as do 19 percent of those in politics and at government think tanks, 20 percent at technology companies, and 34 percent of those who described themselves as entrepreneurs.

Of the respondents who graduated with a degree in journalism—roughly 75 percent of the total response base—41 percent are employed by a news organization.

API’s survey is the first to seek journalists’ thoughts on their line of work in about a decade.

“No one had surveyed people in journalism in quite some time, and one reason is it’s hard to know who these journalists are anymore,” API Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel told the Associated Press. “You can’t just go to TV stations and newspapers and say ‘OK, we are interviewing journalists,’ because you would be missing a lot of people that way.”

The survey revealed a stark contrast in journalists’ perceptions of the quality of their own work compared to the quality of journalism in general. More than 60 percent of journalists said they believed their own work is better than it was five years ago.  But almost the same number said the quality of journalism generally is declining, compared to 22 percent who think it’s getting better.

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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