Journalism – here, there and nowhere

Two news items of interest from the latest issue of the National Union of Journalists‘ organ creatively titled The Journalist.

The first concerns the domestic situation in Britain…

“Jobs in mainstream UK journalism have shrunk by between 27 and 33 percent over the last decade to around 400,000… Conversely, the number of journalism university graduates has never been higher – 7,590 in 2008/9.”

There is anecdotal evidence aplenty to suggest that the decline is even starker than that implied by the above figures. The number of journalism graduates is pretty much irrelevant, given that the standard route into the trade is not via university degree courses, but rather word-of-mouth, nepotism and wealthy parents. Few journalists bother with training accredited by the NCTJ.

And now to the real world…

“A leading Mexican daily newspaper – El Diario de Juarez – has asked drug cartels for guidance on how not to offend them following the deaths of two journalists. In a front page editorial it asked what journalists must do to avoid being killed…”

…with a bullet to the head, or possibly the less than surgical removal of same.

And finally, back to the relative irrelevance of British medialand…

Exploiting the current obsession with government funding cuts, Kingston University professor Brian Cathcart writes to defend his sectional interest – i.e., university journalism departments. Cathcart makes a number of fair points, but still I find it difficult to summon up sympathy for the professor and his students.

Journalism is dying, and the decay began long before the current economic troubles. The problem has more to do with publishers chasing the bottom line, lousy pay rates for journalistic writers and editors, and increasingly lazy media consumers who will accept any old crap fed to them in the press, on the telly, and in blogs.