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Study: Journalism grads don't read newspapers, mags, books

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News,TV,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

This could be the final blow to paper and ink news: Reporters graduating out of journalism school and headed to work at newspapers and magazines don't read print media, with over seven of 10 choosing digital news and social media websites instead, the highest number ever, according to an authoritative new study.

The University of Georgia's "Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates," which surveys J-School grads, their habits, salaries and the jobs they take, found that just one-third had read a newspaper the day before taking the survey. That's a stunning drop from the 81 percent in 1994.

And in a clear sign of the times, three-quarters read news off the internet and many watched TV. And virtually all went on a social media website the day before taking the survey, which is a guide to how new journalists consume news.

The report begs the question: If today's journalists don't read print, why should those they are writing for read magazines and newspapers?

From the report:

"Only about a third of the journalism and mass communication bachelor's degree recipients in 2012 reported they had read a newspaper the day before completing the survey, the lowest figure since the question was first posed in 1994. In fact, the 36.6% who reported reading a newspaper in 2012 is less than half the 81.7% reporting that behavior in 1994. Most journalism and mass communication graduates also didn't read a magazine the day before completing the survey or read a book. Both figures were down significantly from a year earlier.

"The 2012 journalism and mass communication graduates are much like the graduates of a year earlier in terms of their use of electronic media. About six in 10 reported watching television news the day before the survey, and four in 10 reporting listening to radio news. Three-quarters read or viewed news online, and two-thirds read, viewed or heard news on a mobile device. Online and mobile device use is the dominant news platform for the graduates. The online news category can overlap the mobile category, making a comparison difficult.

"As was true a year earlier, more than half of the 2012 graduates reported reading at least one blog the day before the survey. More than nine in 10 of the 2012 graduates reported checking at least one social network site the day before they returned the survey form. That nearly universal behavior has been consistent for the last three years. Use of video on YouTube or other video sharing sites was reported as yesterday behavior by three-quarters of the 2012 graduates, as was the case a year earlier."

The survey, first reported on by Digitaljournalists.org, also found that while the industry has ended years of cost cutting and firings, entry-level pay for new journalists is below the average pay of graduates in other fields. Those with a bachelor's degree, for example, can expect to earn about $32,000 a year, more than $10,000 less than the average in other fields.

Which may explain this statistic in the 75-page survey: Nearly 28 percent regretted their decision to go into journalism.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.