Can female students change Britain’s media industry?

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The author wrote on the trends from the view of Kettle Magazine editors. (Photo: Red Chilli Publishing Ltd.)

One trend that has been present as of late in the US is the rise of women studying journalism. However, this trend does not apply just here, but also in the UK, where recent research from the university application charity UCAS showed more women were studying journalism compared to men. This trend also comes in Britain as more women are taking places at university courses.

Despite that, there is a similarity between the two countries – more men are getting jobs, an issue cited in research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. What does this research mean when it comes to the transition from degree to employment?

Recently, Kettle Magazine, the publication to which I work for, did a Women’s season, devoting 4 weeks to women’s issues and portrayals. I wrote a piece on how the issue plays out among Kettle’s 28 editors, 23 of whom are women, indicative of current educational trends and against the culture of the industry.

Indeed, research cited by the Epigram student newspaper of the University of Bristol in England showed that 64 percent of student publications in the UK have a female editor or co-editors where one is female.

In addition, the chairs of the Student Publication Association in this and the previous academic year are women – Jem Collins for 2015-16, and Sophie Davis for 2014-15. For the record, Kettle is a member publication of the SPA, and I hold a personal membership. Collins did not respond to requests for an interview for this blog post.

Yet, What I found among my colleagues was while the concern of sexism was present, the main focus was on the journalism. However, women can play a role in changing the norm, as my colleague Kealie Mardell said in the piece.

However, my colleague Rebecca Parker says it’s quite the opposite when it comes to women entering the industry in the UK. Parker was able to find a job almost immediately after finishing her degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, and says it’s all down to being proactive.

“It’s just in a state of flux at current,” Parker said in an email interview with SPJ. “The issue of the decline in print meant that there were a lack of job prospects, however as the media moves in sync with the digital age, more job opportunities are becoming available.”

Parker notes however there are still some issues, but they can be solved.

“It is merely an individual’s motivation and drive that will allow them to succeed, regardless of gender. I do acknowledge that women are not equal in terms of pay and this needs to be addressed accordingly in the form of campaigns, however women can only achieve this by what they’re already doing – working hard and being proactive.”

It is unclear in light of these trends what the response will be as far as the media industry is concerned in London and across the UK. However, these trends raise the question of should there be change in Britain, would other countries, like the US, follow?

For the moment, the ball is in the industry’s court.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ International Journalism Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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