Thursday, June 15, 2006

Top British journalists in Oxbridge shock!

This new study by the Sutton Trust makes for interesting if exasperating reading for those of us trying to make it in the world of journalism. It should really come as no surprise that over half of Britain's "top 100" journalists were educated in private schools, with a hefty proportion having specifically graduated from Oxford or Cambridge.

According to The Guardian, the study "concluded that this tended to be because [these people] were more likely to be able to survive the low pay and high job insecurity endemic at junior levels and were more likely to have personal or family connections within the industry." Also, "because it could be difficult to judge journalists on their CVs alone, he said, editors were likely to appoint applicants they knew and the contacts of those who went to private school often helped them."

This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that NOT ONE of the top 100 went to my alma mater in this country, City University, which supposedly boasts one of the most reputable Journalism programmes in the land. And am I right in thinking that neither Oxford nor Cambridge actually has a journalism faculty/school? Are we plebs just busting our asses for nothing because we couldn't afford to go to a school that doesn't even teach us the right subject?! What about journalists who didn't go to university in this country at all, but elsewhere?

I suppose the main thing to remember is that this is a very subjective list of achievers in terms of media success. The Sutton Trust relies on fairly nebulous criteria for choosing its list, based on which journalists are supposedly the most influential. Some of these choices are obvious ones - Rebekah Wade, for instance, or Jeremy Paxman. Others are conspicuous by their absence. The list is also heavily geared towards the nationals, meaning it is London-centric, with prominent regional journos in Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow etc nowhere in sight. Who's to say that they're majority Oxbridge-educated? Something tells me that most of them aren't - but then because their readers are conglomerated in one area rather than around the country, their influence is presumably perceived to be less.

It still sucks, though. And goes a long way toward explaining these wonderful eight-month traineeship programmes for recent graduates, unpaid but with reporting experience guaranteed in virtually every section of a prestigious national paper, and a good chance of being hired there afterward. Who can really afford to work unpaid for eight months in a city like London? Yeah, you guessed it.

Hat tip: DSTFW


At July 06, 2006 1:39 pm, Blogger SPL said...

To be fair, I think your mixing up Oxbridge and private schools.

Yes, neither Ox nor Camb has a specific journalism course, but other subjects on offer - PPE and English - are equally helpful for a career in journalism.

If there was really a "a good chance of being hired there afterward", then I should imagine most people could afford to work unpaid for eight months in London, via a bank loan.

At July 06, 2006 1:39 pm, Blogger SPL said...



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