John Lavine, Dean of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, looked into his crystal ball yesterday at a meeting of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalim and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) in Chicago.
Lavine began with what he described as “four safe bets”:
- Media and content will become more digital.
- Complexity in the world and peoples’ lives will continue to increase.
- Media and mass communications will make it through the current economic conditions.
- Technological advances will continue.
Unlike a number of naysayers, Lavine is bullish on the future of both journalism and PR jobs, although he later told me that he prefers to use the term “strategic communications” rather than public relations. “Eight-five percent of Medill graduates who wanted jobs got them,” he said. “There are jobs. They’re just harder to get.” He predicted that investigative journalism and smart use of data will increase as ways to differentiate and add value.
Lavine predicted that future staffing models will focus on small professional staffs, augmented by independent experts and public contributors. “Think of successful freelancers as independent professionals,” Lavine said. “Accomplished professionals in magazines, movies and online can make a good living while doing what they love.” He underscored what others at the meeting stressed: “In a digital world, great writing still wins.”
Claiming “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Lavine said freelance careers are on the rise, driven by outsourcing to lower cost centers in the U.S. Canada, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Mexico. Lavine cited that print publications, book editing, proof reading, layout, design, printing and film are being outsourced at increasing rates.
Future graduates will have between five and 15 jobs during their careers, Lavine cited from Geolytics data. Many of the jobs have not yet been invented. He also was positive about the growth in job prospects surrounding events, noting that events are becoming increasingly important in branding and promoting products.