Work Histories of Young Journalism Graduates in Moscow in the 2010s

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Mikhail I. Makeenko

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor at the Chair of Media Theory and Economics, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Andrei V. Vyrkovsky

Doctor of Philology, Associate Professor at the Chair of Media Theory and Economics, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia


Section: Sociology of Journalism

The preparatory overview of significant research publications on the work histories of journalists and media professionals (Zion, Sherwood et al., 2018; Cohen, Hunter, O’Donnell, 2019; Davidson, Meyers, 2016; Svitich, 1986) revealed conceptual similarities of both professional realities of various time periods (including the last decade) and approaches to their research and interpretation. The media work has for a long time been and nowadays is very unstable and precarious, it is an appealing field for many people not intending to work sustainably in a concrete organization or even in the profession. So one can repeatedly change working positions in media while staying in related professional fields or even moving to totally different spheres. Nevertheless it became obvious that the data on issues like how often one changes jobs in media or in which particular directions staffers move inside or outside the media industry are sparse. Thus for better understanding of the processes in the media job market it is necessary to get more information on whether people are able to get jobs particularly in media, how often they have to change jobs, for how long media workers stay at a working position in the same organization or how widespread the practice of leaving media for other professional spheres is. For our study of work histories and career developments of media workers in Russia we examined work experiences of younger journalists (the previous research made it evident that the first few years at work present the most dynamic and effective period for career achievements and formation of social capital for journalists, which in the Russian case made us turn to those under 30) who graduated from the Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, in 2009-2019 (n=264). More than half of the respondents began work for a living / got professional experience / built a career while still being students. And those who did not have full-time or freelance job while at the University normally came, at least temporarily, to journalism / media / communication fields after graduation. Basically, the work of the overwhelming majority of graduates in the 2010s was associated with the above-mentioned fields. In most cases, their full-time jobs (both before and after graduation) were in journalism, with public relations sector being a distant second. The study showed that only half of full-time / part-time jobs for young specialists were in newsrooms, a fact supporting the trend that the field of media / communication activities has become very broad and gained ground well beyond journalism. The revealed work trajectories of the respondents made it evident that within the 2010s the young media and communication workers became extremely mobile with the highest intensity of circulation among various organizations (newsrooms, press relations services, communication agencies) and even different spheres of communication work (a demonstrative development was from journalism to public relations). The mean and median duration of staying at one job in the 2010s did not even approach 2 years, more often being around one year. On the one hand, those rates can be explained by the growing instability and precarity of modern working environment in media, where projects and jobs appear and vanish rapidly. But on the other hand, it is important to take into account the modern young professionals’ psychological and mental characteristics dealing with loyalty, motivation, professional and personal interests or social capital, which directly affect their attitude to work histories and careers and are likely to result in the preference for the so-called patchwork careers and portfolio employment.

Keywords: work history, journalists, journalism, strategic communications, media, full-time employment, precarity
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.2.2021.4992


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