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November 25, 2016

Michael Parkinson: ‘I don’t see where the job openings are for young journalists today’

By Freddy Mayhew

Broadcaster and journalist Michael Parkinson has said getting into journalism is harder now than it was in his day and cast aspersions on taking a media course at university.

Parkinson, 81, said: “It is a very old fashioned view I know, but I don’t know about these media courses they have nowadays at universities.

“… It seems to me that a lot of young people do it as they see it as a way of getting onto shows like I’m A Celebrity. They want to be famous.”

The broadcaster, best known for his talk show interviewing stars from the world of entertainment and sport, began his career at the South Yorkshire Times before going on to the Daily Express.

Speaking to journalist Kirsty Young at BAFTA on Wednesday night, reported by the Daily Mail, Parkinson spoke about the route into journalism for young people today.

“Things have changed so much now with television and newspapers that they acquire a different person from the one I became making my way as a junior reporter and then being shown the ropes,” he said.

“I left school at 16 and walked into a newspaper office and said ‘I want a job’.

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“And they used to say ‘See that guy over there? Work for him for three years and then after that you would get a proper job. That was an apprenticeship. It does not happen nowadays.

“I have a great deal of sympathy for young people nowadays who want to do the job I did all my life as I don’t see where the openings are for them.”

Tim Luckhurst, head of the Centre for Journalism at Kent University, said: “I think Mr Parkinson is probably right about very many degrees which call themselves media but he is wrong about good journalism degrees.

“If a degree is genuinely about teaching professional journalism it’s very simple to tell. It will be accredited by the NCTJ and it will teach subjects called history, politics and law, not media studies.

“There are quite a few degrees that do precisely that.

“I set up the Centre for Journalism with my colleague Ian Reeves with the specific aim of getting young people from diverse backgrounds who do not get jobs in journalism into journalism.

“If Mr Parkinson would like to come and see the Centre for Journalism he would see that it’s also home to an Ofcom-regulated TV station where our students do work experience and I would be delighted , as a huge admirer of his work, to meet our students.”

Journalism at Kent was ranked first for graduate prospects in The Complete University Guide 2017 and The Times Good University Guide 2016.

Students have gone on to work at the BBC, ITV, Sky News, and the Mail on Sunday, to name a few, Luckhurst added.

Picture: Reuters

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