By Marcus Medford for New Canadian Media
International students and children of immigrants say pursuing post-secondary studies in journalism can motivate both encouragement and opposition from their parents.
Sharif Hasan’s parents didn’t argue with him about his program choice – although they did express concerns. Hasan immigrated to Canada from Bangladesh in 2013 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa.
According to Hasan, the life of a journalist in Bangladesh is “not ideal.”
“Most young journalists struggle for years to get employed at a good media house,” Hasan explains. “Many of them don’t get a permanent job at all.”
Money in journalism has become an issue internationally due to the increased number of freelancers, the shift to digital platforms and the shrinking of newsroom staff in order to save money.
Media outlets across North America have laid-off hundreds of workers in recent years. For example, Bell Media laid off 380 workers and Sports Illustrated magazine cut its entire photojournalism department in 2015.
Journalism not always a ‘safe’ option
Parents like programs that offer clear-cut paths to “solid careers” says Maryam Shah, a reporter for theToronto Sun, who came to Canada from Pakistan to study journalism at the University of Toronto.
Shah wanted to be a reporter since she was 11 and says she “pushed back” when her parents insisted she study law or medicine.
“In Pakistan, that’s just what you do,” Shah shares. “Anyone who says they want to write or travel the world, they look at you like there’s something wrong with you.”
Shah adds that parents are becoming more understanding when it comes to their children’s career choices, but they still prefer ‘safe’ options like engineering or teaching.