Cabanillas is running groceries over the scanner as old ladies give him their life story and cooking recipes. It is half past nine and he is handing in the last receipt and bag of the day. Cabanillas has been working as a cashier since he is not able to find the job he dreamed of.
Too little means of media or too many journalists? Cabanillas walks every Friday into the unemployment office hoping to get a job vacancy. He still feels that he will find his place within the profession. Roberto has a degree in journalism.
“I worked as a grant holder for three months as the university holds agreements among the companies for those post-graduates; yet after this, I was kicked up”, Cabanillas said.
The newspaper explained that they were already full in vacancies, and this has been what he has heard the most in these five years. Most of the media companies are just firing their old staff, so that, what are the chances for new generations of journalists?
Cabanillas exemplifies the latest generation of passionate journalists that have faced the global economy crisis besides the media crisis. They are in their twenties and thirties. Young well-educated and trained journalists who have achieved knowledge in languages, new technologies and journalistic deontology as their predecessors never did (in 1981, 30% of the journalists were educated in journalism. Nowadays: 80%). The only solution that they can afford is continuing their formation by taking masters and courses.
“What the fuck. It’s time to practice, and not to have a sit in a class and listen to the teacher…”complained Nicolas Baudoux –student of journalism in Brugges, Belgium.
But as a student of journalism at the University of Carlos III de Madrid, Álvaro Domínguez, pointed out “in Spain, due to the current situation of unemployment, many journalism students will need to improve their skills besides the degree instruction”.
On the other hand, students should be aware that “a degree won’t guarantee a free ticket to professing journalism, but it’s a tough field in which you can succeed if you have the necessary amount of motivation and passion”, said Dana Mustata -teacher of Television studies at the University of Groningen, Holland.
This passion and social fascination that have been put in the media influence the amount of enrolments which has nearly been doubled in Spain: from 29,895 of enrolments in Information Sciences in the 1995-96 academic year up to 48,330 in the 2007-08 academic year. The Annual Report on the journalistic profession warned that in 2011 the number of new graduates will increase up to 3,000 journalists while the employment index in journalism has grown only in a 0.5.
“We are 100 in my promotion. But in Belgium around 300 students graduate each year. And how many free vacancies are there? 15? 20? In journalism you are always struggling to get a fucking job”, said Baudoux.
In his neighbour country, the situation seems different: “I think there are possibilities to become a journalist in the Netherlands. There is only one institution (Zwolle) that teaches journalism. And most students go abroad to study journalism”, said Ferdinand Mooibroek – student of communication at Groningen.
The reasons of studying journalism underlie a fundamental curiosity to explain what is going on and a hint of activism – wanting to show the public what is really going on. As well as a taste for travelling and going through the depth of the subject, not only the general fact.
There is also an idealistic perception influenced by literature and movies. First-year students believe that journalism is the art of changing the world. Over all, journalism is a vocational profession and in facing the problems which it carries, students do not change their minds and stay optimistic:
“Journalism will be, in the near future, a very powerful tool to inform, demand and let the people know about the world they’re living in. And there will be needed so many journalists to fulfil those tasks.” Domínguez thinks.
Students think through and set journalism as a degree which opens paths to many others professions since it consists of some basic knowledge, which the student is supposed to develop in order to his preferences.
“Journalism is one of the best types of education possible to teach people valuable communication skills. If there aren’t enough jobs there are many other marketable skills which an education in journalism provides”, explained Chris Peters-teacher in Introduction to journalism studies at the University of Groningen.
Not everything is so positive when gazing The daily beast published on 24th April, 2011and its ranking of the worthless degrees in which Journalism got the first place. Mustata responded that
“the remuneration is not in line with the effort, energy and time one puts into it. It is a job that brings a different kind of satisfaction other than material earnings”.
However, students claim that they are aware of the difficulties: “I’m not going to be daunted by a statistic. I have never chosen to get an education that would give me the most money-earning prospects, yet it is sad that a job that contributes to a better society is so underpaid”, said Annick Hutten – student of Television Sciences in Utrecht.
Most undergraduates state as the main problems after coursing the degree are the unemployment, the fast developing of technology and the media crisis. Low salaries and weary journeys make the rest.
Their perceptions coincide with the survey aimed at 1,000 journalists in 2010 by the Annual report on journalistic profession, 25% of respondents had lost their jobs and a 66% said that salary has been reduced. Internet and new technologies are pointed as the causes since you can be a journalist by creating a blog, posting headlines on your own in Twitter. Internet has introduced the notion of journalism as a hobby. So that, is it worthy to study journalism when everyone can report through the net but also when so many mass media are going bankrupt?
“I don’t think anyone can be a journalist. It’s true that many people can write correctly, but it doesn’t mean these people can write in a journalistic way”, commented student of journalism Cristina Da Silva.
Opposed views among students. As some of them see the online as a huge progress, others distrust. The journalist is sometimes overwhelmed by amateurs.
For Fran Reina- student of journalism at the University Carlos III de Madrid, “it is a threat. To protect their work, journalists have to differentiate their product from those created by non-journalists. Accuracy and velocity in publication continue being easier to former media”.
So that, do we need to put limits between amateur and former reporting? “I think all the information that is shared with the purpose to inform the public should count as journalism. Citizen Journalism is adding information, that was neglected by the professional media, to the public sphere”, reflected Mooibroek.
Baudoux saw also the positive side by giving the example of Rue89 (2007) – a news website that worked only online but since June 2010, a monthly newspaper is released.
“It’s the demonstration that Internet is powerful and not just a threat against journalism. It’s the first time that an online newspaper became a printed newspaper.” Normally, it works the other way around.
Not only Baudoux is thankful to the Internet. When Cabanillas is not at the groceries stock he is writing a blog and reporting of the occurrences in the supermarket and neighborhood that he has known from the old ladies. Cabanillas is the avant-garde in the new supermarket journalism.
Pss: The surname Cabanillas was used in replacement of the original in order to respect the participant’s decision.