Using three cohorts of journalism students across the full range of one academic program at one university, this paper details the responses gained after asking the most basic of all questions; Why did you choose a career in journalism?

Year: 1999

Author: Fitzsimmons, Phil, Bilbo, Wendy

Type of paper: Refereed paper

After surveying the students in all three years of the program, 90 students then volunteered to take part in a series of interviews which aimed to delineate the forces which determined their career choice, their understanding of the writing process gained from their school experience and their perceptions of what constitutes effective writing. The data gathered clearly indicated that students had embarked on a career based almost solely on their engagement with a particular teacher rather than an a demonstrated writing ability. Their understanding of their chosen field was also dependent on a subset of highly subjective ideals which bore little correlation to the everyday working life of a journalist.

The findings of this project have implications for the teaching of secondary English, curriculum development, the role of career supervisors and the links between secondary and tertiary institutions.