The Impact of the Diploma on Journalists' Income

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
CLM.4.02 (Clement House)
Clémence Aubert-Tarby, Paris School of Business, Paris, France; Paris School of Business, Paris, France
Anne Boring, Sciences Po, Paris, France; PSL, Université Paris Dauphine, Leda, Paris, France
Octavio Escobar, Paris School of Business, Paris, France; Paris School of Business, Paris, France
Differences in educational backgrounds can have large and lasting effects on the careers of journalists. In the French system, some journalists receive formal training in journalism, while others earn degrees in other fields, often in literature or political science. Those who earn a degree in journalism can choose among sixty training programs, some of which offer degrees that are recognized by peers. Since 1956, the National Collective Agreement on Journalists’ Work has supported the training in two specialized schools of journalism: ESJ (École Supérieure de Journalisme, in Lille) and CFJ (Centre de Formation des Journalistes, in Paris). In 1976, the National Joint Commission for Journalists’ Employment was created to work out criteria for identifying degrees in journalism called “recognized by professional bodies” and has extended the number of recognized schools from two to fourteen. These schools guarantee high quality general and technical courses (writing, report, radio), promote work experiences with internships, support the integration on the labor market and make their students benefit from a good professional network. Attending one of the fourteen schools, especially one of the top programs, is supposed to be a positive signal for potential employers, since the admission process is highly competitive.

In other professions, the literature tends to suggest that earning a degree from a top higher education institution is a predictor for success in the beginning stages of a career (e.g. Baghestanian & Popov, 2014). The allocation of graduates on the labor market depends on several factors, including ranking within the degree earned (e.g. Smeets, et al., 2006), internship experience (e.g. Gault, et al., 2000) and gender (e.g. Cox & Harquail, 1991). Access to network structures is also essential, as it provides better access to information, resources and career sponsorships (Seibert, et. al, 2001).

The extent of the advantage that a top degree in journalism provides in a journalist’s career is undetermined however. The aim of this paper is to analyze and quantify the advantages of the degrees that are more recognized by employers. Based on national data collected from 2000 to 2013 using journalists’ yearly registrations at the Commission of the Identity Card for Professional Journalists, our study shows how a diploma in journalism impacts wages and career trajectories, generating strong inequalities in journalists’ careers.

The database enables us to focus on the impact of professional network structures, as it includes information on the degrees earned by individual employers hiring the new journalists who have entered the profession since 2000. Furthermore, we explore the role of competition among degrees and graduates, as the number of schools recognized by the profession has increased over the years. Finally, we analyze gender differences in terms of the impacts of networks and degree competition on women and men’s wages and careers.