J-School: Educating Independent Journalists

“If tools could make anyone who picked them up an expert, they’d be valuable indeed.” Plato, The Republic

The Struggle Over the Professional Project

Posted by chanders on October 20, 2005

McChris comments on my post "The Deprofessionalization of Journalism":

"I could certainly see how the rise of blogs, wikis, etc. actually
catalyze a renewed professionalization of institutional journalism. Now
that people read blogs highly critical of the media and controversies
around figures like Dan Rather and Judy Miller raise questions about
newsgathering, the profession could react by cranking up the
discipline, raising the barriers to participate in news organizations.
The institutional players will want to distinguish themselves from
folks who don’t write the news for fun."

I actually totally agree. In fact, I think what we will be witnessing over the next few years is a battle over the concept of the journalistic profession. One advantage to looking at the whole grassroots  / mainstream journalism phenomenon as a "professional project" is that it calls attention to the very real ways in which social groups struggle over the ability to define themselves as "professional people" (and their field as a "profession") with all the accompanying social advantages therin.

Just one off the cuff example of what I mean: the current battle over the journalistic shield law in the US Congress. Couldn’t we view the law as being as much of an attempt  to more formally define the boundaries of the journalistic field as it is an attempt to enable journalists to keep confidential sources? Bloggers worry that the law will mean creating two-tiers of journalism. That may be exactly the point.


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