Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Fantasy, pragmatism and journalistic socialisation: UK journalism students’ aspirations and motivations

Jackson, Daniel; Thorsen, Einar; Reardon, Sally


Daniel Jackson

Einar Thorsen

Sally Reardon
Senior Lecturer in Multimedia/Multiplatform Journalism


Despite the sustained growth in journalism as a choice of degree path for young people, our understanding of students’ aspirations and motivations remains relatively underdeveloped. At the same time, journalism careers appear increasingly uncertain, as the industry responds to digitalisation and convergence. In this mixed-methods study – employing 35 interviews and a survey of 837 UK journalism students – we ask what areas of journalism do students aspire towards, how do they feel about their future career prospects, and what is motivating them to study journalism in the first place? We find that intrinsic motivations (calling and talent, dynamic job) prevail over public service ones, with students drawn to soft news beats over hard news. Aspirations are also strikingly gendered, opening up questions of journalism education in this process. We also find that while students articulate an aspirational career in respected media outlets, they are pragmatic about their immediate career prospects. Here, journalism education appears to play a significant role in socialising students towards careers beyond journalism. Findings are discussed in the light of ongoing debates around journalistic socialisation and the future of journalism.


Jackson, D., Thorsen, E., & Reardon, S. (2020). Fantasy, pragmatism and journalistic socialisation: UK journalism students’ aspirations and motivations. Journalism Practice, 14(1), 104-124.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 3, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 19, 2019
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 20, 2020
Journal Journalism Practice
Print ISSN 1751-2786
Electronic ISSN 1751-2794
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Pages 104-124
Keywords journalism education, journalistic socialisation, motivations, aspirations, gender roles, journalism careers
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journalism Practice on 19th March 2019, available online:


You might also like

Downloadable Citations