Job Description: Journalism professors teach the next generation of reporters and editors to prepare them for careers in journalism. Courses that journalism professors teach are varied but some of the most frequent courses taught are news reporting, editing, investigative journalism, feature writing, and ethics in journalism. Many journalism professors advise student newspapers and if they are concentrated in broadcast journalism, they could advise a student-run radio or television station. (However, at some college campuses, student media advisors, rather than professors, perform the duties of advising student-run newspapers, television stations and radio stations.)
Training and Educational Qualifications: Four-year colleges and universities usually consider PhDs for full-time, tenure-track positions, but they may hire master’s degree holders or doctoral candidates for certain disciplines, such as the arts, or for part-time and temporary jobs.
In 2-year colleges, master’s degree holders fill most full-time positions. However, in certain fields where there may be more applicants than available jobs, master’s degree holders may be passed over in favor of candidates holding PhDs.
Most journalism professors have also had a professional career in journalism in addition to academic credentials.
Job Outlook: Overall, employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2016. A significant proportion of these new jobs will be part-time positions. Job opportunities are generally expected to be very good although they will vary somewhat from field to field as numerous openings for all types of postsecondary teachers will result from retirements of current postsecondary teachers and continued increases in student enrollments.
Salary: Earnings for college faculty vary according to rank and type of institution, geographic area, and field. According to a 2006-07 survey by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for full-time faculty averaged $73,207. By rank, the average was $98,974 for professors, $69,911 for associate professors, $58,662 for assistant professors, $42,609 for instructors, and $48,289 for lecturers.
• Opportunities for postsecondary teaching jobs are expected to be good, but many new openings will be for part-time or nontenure track positions. Prospects for teaching jobs will be better and earnings higher in academic fields in which many qualified teachers opt for nonacademic careers, such as health specialties, business, and computer science, for example.
• Educational qualifications for postsecondary teacher jobs range from expertise in a particular field to a PhD, depending on the subject being taught and the type of educational institution.
• Most journalism professors are experienced journalists as well as academicians but the qualifications vary by institution.
Did you have an internship in this field prior to starting your career?
I had internships at the twice-weekly Claremont Courier and The Washington Post. My experience at the Courier helped persuade me that I wanted to put out my own newspaper.
Do you know of which companies have the best internships in this field that are known to help launch a successful career?
It depends on what you define as “best.” I would want to intern at an organization that would let me do the most and gain the greatest experience. In that respect, the Courier offered a better internship than the Post.
Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?
In journalism, jobs are everywhere, small towns to big cities and around the globe.
What is your typical day like?
I’m on sabbatical, so nothing is typical. I try to write in the early morning (get to the office by 7:00 a.m.), then conduct regular business the rest of the working day (teaching, mentoring, etc.); then I read at night (two dailies, many magazines and Web sites, books on the subject of my next book I’m writing, etc.).
What are your job responsibilities?
Teaching, writing, researching.
What is your favorite part of your job?
What do you dislike about your job?
Not much, though faculty committee meetings can wear thin after years.
Have you had any turning-point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?
Teaching at historically black Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi during “Freedom Summer” in 1964.
How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?
I wanted to change America for the better and I wanted to report and write.
How did you get into this industry?
After my two internships, at age 28, I bought a tiny daily that had been losing money, the Southbridge (MA) News.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
I’ve had two: the New England Daily Newspaper Survey and election to presidency of American Society of Newspaper Editors.
If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?
Editorial writing or high school teaching.
To what professional associations do you belong?
American Society of Newspaper Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
What professional publications do you read?
I like to think I read everything, from American Journalism Review and Columbia Journalism Review, to Romensko, to the American Editor, The Economist, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Wired too many publications.
What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?
Be eager to move beyond your comfort zone. Experience the world.