Survey: U.S. college journalism programs eye safety curriculum

Safety, News & Information,

Videographer and Reporter

A recent survey of U.S. college journalism programs revealed that while concerns over reporter safety have increased, not all students are learning about ways to protect themselves before graduating. 

The survey, conducted by volunteer leaders of the RTDNA Safety Committee, received responses from 21 journalism program leaders representing schools that had between 100 and 2,500 journalism undergraduates. 

Those respondents gave an average score of 9.05 out of 10 when asked how important it was that students receive training on personal safety, whether physical, mental, or digital. 

“This is often an area that student journalists don’t consider when thinking of journalism as a career,” one respondent said in the survey. “With the growing number of challenges facing professionals in the field this topic has become an increasingly important subject.”

Fifteen of the respondents said their curriculum includes training on personal safety, though only seven said that curriculum was mandatory for graduating students. 

“It's clear from studies and organizations … that journalists are facing higher levels of threats and stress on the job in recent years,” one respondent said in the survey. “We are behind in addressing that in our classes.”

The RTDNA Safety Committee will consider ways to help support college journalism departments to ensure they are addressing the safety needs of the next generation of journalists.

About the survey

The RTDNA Safety Committee targeted 41 schools in the fourth quarter of 2023, and more than 50 percent of schools contacted participated in the survey. The schools contacted included a mix of public and private schools, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs). 


The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to broadcast and digital journalism. Founded as a grassroots organization in 1946, RTDNA's mission is to promote and protect responsible journalism. RTDNA defends the First Amendment rights of electronic journalists throughout the country, honors outstanding work in the profession through the Edward R. Murrow Awards and provides members with training to encourage ethical standards, newsroom leadership and industry innovation.