Overholser to grads: The journalism you’re helping reinvent is just coming into its own

Photo Courtesy of Geneva Overholser

Photo Courtesy of Geneva Overholser

Ed. Note: As the academic year comes to a close, the job market will be flooded with new graduates. Many of those leaving J-school may feel trepidation over the heavy downsizing that has afflicted nearly every major media outlet in the country in recent years. But there are reasons to be encouraged. Last Friday, Geneva Overholser, director of the journalism school at USC Annenberg and a veteran journalist herself, shared many of those reasons with the graduating class in her commencement speech. The core of her message was optimistic: Journalism is an industry that is being reinvented for the better, and today’s graduates are going to help shape it. Overholser herself will be retiring as director of the school, but she offered much hope — and a few bits of wisdom — for one more batch of bright-eyed students ready to become professionals. Following is the complete transcript of her speech, as prepared for delivery. [Read more…]

Journalism schools educate more employable students

With the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism recently hiring a new dean, media critics have been turning their eyes on journalism schools to postulate once again about whether or not elite programs help graduates get employed. Though many major media outlets like Gannett have laid off thousands of employees in the last 10 years, an article published by Crain’s New York suggests that the people who are actually getting hired are coming out of top journalism schools.

Looking at Columbia specifically, the article says that in 2012, 74 percent of a 354-person class had some kind of internship or minimal employment lined up before graduating. In 2006, only 52 percent were in that position. Other schools, such as the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, have seen similar improvements.

“That’s in part because of happy things, like our graduates are very talented and skilled,” Nicholas Lemann, the outgoing dean at Columbia, told Craig’s, “and in part unhappy things, like a 27-year-old coming out of this school is more desirable in the labor force than a 55-year-old who doesn’t have any digital skills.”

Al Jazeera America draws thousands of job applications

Although Al Jazeera’s recruiters used to incite little interest from prospective job candidates, their impending U.S. launch has prompted 18,000 people to apply for 170 openings in the new bureau, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.

Ehab Alshihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera, told CJR that he advises candidates to pay close attention to how their qualifications adhere to the job they want. “We want people who have watched our content and are familiar with the product, the company, and the Al Jazeera brand of journalism.” The candidates, he said, have no commonality of age, ethnicity or journalism credentials, but they’re unified by their levels of experience, enthusiasm and passion for Al Jazeera’s type of content.

Alshihabi said that American journalists started to notice Al Jazeera during their coverage of the Arab Spring. He said they’ll have preliminary hires set by May 1 to prepare for their American launch, and they’ll continue to hire on a rolling basis. They’ll hire radio, print, online and TV journalists.