The “Deprofessionalization” of Journalism?
Posted by chanders on October 9, 2005
Thousands of commentators, both on- and offline, have cut at the relationship between new forms of digital, particpatory media and mainstream journalism, in hundreds of ways. Surprisingly, while many have asked the question "is blogging journalism?" and others have replied that "blogging versus journalism is over", few have asked if we are witnessing a fundamental "deprofessionalization" of journalism due to the emergence of blogs, hyperlocal journalism, citizens media, indymedia, etc. (a google search for "deprofessionalization of journalism" returns less than than 10 results, while a search for "is blogging journalism" turns up 723).
There are several possible explanations for this. The first is that the sociological literature on "the professions" is a vast one and constitutes a veritible subfield within sociology. A second reason might be that journalism represents a very odd profession (indeed, some would argue, a failed profession) and thus exploring the collapse of a not-quite-ever-really a profession is even more difficult.
Nevertheless, the question is a good one to ask. Indeed, if James Carey wrote of "the rise of the professional communicator" and Everett C. Hughes inquired as to "the circumstances in which people in an occupation attempt to turn it into a profession and themselves into professional people," we might flip the questions on their head:
* Are we witnessing the deprofessionalization of journalism?
* What are the circumstances in which people outside or inside an occupation attempt to turn it from a profession into something else?
* If sociologists speak easily of a professional project can we speak of a deprofessionalization project?