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Methodology

The survey was conducted online through the lists of alumni of the 22 participating schools and was distributed through partner alumni email lists between April 14 and June 29, 2015, with the dates varying within that time frame among different schools.

The survey was executed using the SurveyMonkey survey tool, with consultation from senior SurveyMonkey research staff. The results were moved to and analyzed using SPSS.

The following institutions participated in the project:

  • Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Boston University, College of Communication
  • City University of New York, Graduate School of Journalism
  • Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism
  • George Washington University, School of Media & Public Affairs
  • Louisiana State University, Manship School of Mass Communication
  • Michigan State University, School of Journalism
  • Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Pennsylvania State University, College of Communications
  • Stony Brook University, School of Journalism
  • Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
  • Temple University, School of Media and Communication
  • University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism
  • University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communications
  • University of Iowa, School of Journalism & Mass Communication
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Philip Merrill College of Journalism
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, College of Journalism and Mass Communications
  • University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School of Journalism
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Media and Journalism
  • University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
  • University of Texas, Austin, Moody College of Communication
  • Washington State University, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Potential partner institutions were identified by several factors including size, location and history of their journalism and communication schools. Twenty-five schools were approached and 22 participated in full. Representatives from all schools consulted on the design and wording of the questionnaire. Schools were also given slots for four proprietary questions. The data from any one school will remain anonymous except for that school. Each school will be given its own dataset of its alumni, which it can compare to the aggregate dataset. Schools will be able to compare graduates in detail (i.e., those with only journalism programs will be able to compare their graduates just to other journalism graduates). The identity of any one graduate will remain confidential, and all schools agreed that they cannot use the individual responses to contact that alumni for fundraising or other purposes.

The full dataset will be available to scholars in the near future, though the date of that release will depend on future releases.

For most schools, all communication with the alumni came directly from the individual educational institution. Two institutions requested that API send the invitation to participate. At no time did API or its consultants have any identifying information on the graduates invited to participate.  Schools used similar language in their emails and follow-up reminders to encourage participation to ensure uniformity in the how the study was presented (to minimize bias across the schools in terms of who might respond). The invitations and reminders were sent through email.  The link to SurveyMonkey was included in each of these emails.

The survey was not generic; instead it was tailored to each school with school name and other identifying features to ensure comfort on the part of the respondent.  After the data collection, the surveys for each of the schools was consolidated into a single dataset.

A total of more than 105,000 invitations were sent, and 11,931 accessed the survey.

Some respondents did not complete the entire survey. To be considered a “completed survey” respondents had to answer to a certain point and had to be a qualified alumni. Of these, 89% reached the required completion point. Fully 69% of those finished the survey in its entirety; 10,482 met the criteria to be included in the dataset.

Due to a variation in programming, the wording for one school’s questionnaire was slightly different than the rest. While the data for this school are valid, those are not included in the dataset for this report or in the totals of completes.

In addition to the 22 academic partners, two news industry associations also partnered on the survey, the American Society of News Editors and the Radio, Television and Digital News Directors Association.  The questionnaire for these respondents was essentially the same in order to allow for some comparison between industry leaders and the alumni.  Those comparisons will come in a later report along with a breakout of alumni who identified themselves as senior managers.

The survey included a combination of closed- and open-ended questions.  Open-ended questions were coded into meaningful categories.

The following people worked on the survey and report:

  • Tom Rosenstiel, the executive director of the American Press Institute, helped write the survey instrument and was a principal drafter of the report.
  • Maria Ivancin, president of the Market Research Bureau and adjunct associate professor at American University, helped write the survey instrument, consolidated the surveys into a single dataset, cleaned the data, conducted all the tabulation of the data and consulted on the data analysis and report.
  • Kevin Loker, the program manager of API, helped develop the survey instrument and was primary contact with the partner schools.
  • Stephen Lacy, professor at Michigan State University and former AEJMC President, consulted on the survey instrument and the data analysis.
  • Katie Yaeger, summer fellow at API, coded open-ended responses for analysis.
  • Jeff Sonderman, the deputy director of API, helped edit and build the report.
  • Nayana Davis, a consultant to API, programmed the survey and coordinated its distribution with the partners.
  • Laurie Beth Harris, editorial coordinator of API, helped build the report.

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