Annual survey sheds light on telecommunications industry

Although Ball State junior Stacy Russell is working towards a degree in telecommunications, she is now considering a job in public relations, fitting a new trend.

The Radio-Television National Directors Association/Ball State University Annual Survey shows that fewer women and minorities are pursuing broadcasting careers.

Bob Papper, professor of telecommunications and one of the directors of the survey, attributes this to low pay in the job field.

"It's an issue of supply and demand," Papper said. "There are too many people who want to go into broadcasting."

Papper said many of the qualified people are going into better paying jobs, such as public relations and computer-related fields.

"I love news but I feel like I'll never have a job in it unless I don't want a family or house," Russell said.

For Malaun Willie, an African-American first-year graduate student, it has always been a goal of hers to go into broadcasting.

"I'm going into it because I have the love and desire to do weather," Willie said. "I know I'll be making low pay to get my feet wet."

Though she is willing to put up with the pay, a lack of job opportunities may keep her from her dream. Unable to find a job in weather this summer, she is now pursuing public relations. Willie is still continuing her search for a job in weather, though.

Russell said she feels the sacrifice might not be worth it.

"I'll have to give up the first three years of my life after I graduate, and I'll be on the bottom of the totem pole," Russell said.

She also cited Anne Ryder, a WTHR anchor who recently suffered a miscarriage at the age of 43, as an example.

"She had to wait until she was stable in her career to have a family. I don't want to invest that much. Public relations is more scheduled and the money is there," Russell said.

Willie said she thinks job satisfaction is worth more than money.

"I want to be able to wake up and say, 'I love this job!'" Willie said.

The survey, a comprehensive study on television and radio broadcasting, also found that the number of women and minority directors has gone up. Women news directors in television is the highest it's ever been at 25.9 percent.

While the number of women overall in the profession may have dropped, Papper said the change means little.

"It's doesn't show fewer women are being hired. There's such a minuscule difference," Papper said. "That doesn't mean there's no discrimination because if there wasn't, wouldn't (women directors) be at 50 percent?"

The survey shows that the percentage of women overall in the television work force is 40 percent. If weather, sports and photography are dropped, women make up 50 percent, Papper said.

"I'm surprised," Russell said. "I feel it's harder for me to get a job out there than it is for a minority because white women are the majority."

Though the total number of minority news directors dropped from 21.9 percent to 19.8 percent, Papper sees little to worry over the change.

"Last years figures may have been an anomaly because it was such a spike. This year's figures may be more realistic," Papper said. "We'll know more when we go through it again."

The survey is sent out to all television stations and one out of every eight radio stations. The survey's results are subject to the number of stations that send back the survey.


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