US Journalism schools see applicants rise in ‘fake news’ era

Global Business

The rise of “fake news” and political troubles in the U.S. and globally are cause for alarm to many, but there’s one area that’s reaping real benefits. Enrollment in journalism schools is spiking across the country.

CGTN’s May Lee reports.

The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, one of the top journalism schools in the U.S., just welcomed 90 new graduate students into its intensive program. They are part of a growing trend that’s being called by some a new “Golden Age” of journalism triggered, in part, by the rise of Donald Trump and the “fake news” phenomenon.

“We have students writing in their applications that now more than ever there’s a need for people to sort through the tidal wave of information who say someone has to speak truth to power. We’ve seen more people than ever wanting to be investigative reporters because they feel there’s a need for that,” Vince Gonzales, USC Professor of Professional Practice said.

Applications at USC’s Annenberg School went up by nearly 20 percent this year. Columbia University’s School of Journalism increased 10 percent last year. And at Northwestern University’s Medill School, applications this year jumped a healthy 24 percent. Students from all backgrounds are determined to make an impact.

“We should have more young people to get into this industry and produce some new content in new forms so it can attract more young people to read more readership,” Alex Li, a student from China said.

New graduate student Tallie Spencer said, “Now more than ever we need a voice and a strong voice and representation for the people. And we need to restore the faith in the media so we can get stories that are told and citizens that are informed.”

Increased enrollments in journalism schools isn’t the only area that’s experiencing a boost due to the current political and social climate. Newspapers are seeing a spike in subscriptions and TV news outlets are enjoying the highest ratings ever. In 2017, the New York Times made more than a billion dollars in subscription revenue thanks to explosive online growth. And cable news channel MSNBC had its best year ever in its 22 year history.

“To see a young generation of journalists interested in the idea of the craft of journalism is a good sign that they’re interested in holding institutions accountable regardless of party, regardless of location, regardless of issue because that will have a catalyzing effects and I think that’s why when you see their interest in communicating it’s demonstrative that there’s some good times ahead,” Gordon Stables, Interim Director of USC Annenberg School said.

And that’s an outlook shared by these optimistic future journalists. With a smile on her face, USC graduate student Laurie Maemura said, “You go into it for the passion and the love, or that’s what I’m doing.”