Objectivity, Professionalism, and Truth Seeking in Journalism

Authored by: Michael Schudson , Chris Anderson

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805863420
eBook ISBN: 9780203877685
Adobe ISBN: 9781135592011


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The field of journalism studies and the subfield of sociology that examines professionalization and professional systems—the sociology of the professions—have coexisted in a state of mutual indifference for decades. Few of the classic professional studies in the sociology of professions hazard even a guess as to journalism’s professional status, preferring for the most part to focus on the traditional professions of medicine and law (see, for example, Bledstein, 1976; Dingwall & Lewis, 1983; Freidson, 1970; Haskell, 1984); most studies of journalistic professionalism, on the other hand, forego engagement with the bulk of the sociological literature on professional occupations and systems. (For a rare exception, see Tumber & Prentoulis, 2005.) At a time when many of the most important scholarly questions about journalism revolve around issues of the occupation’s power, authority, and professional status, there is much to be gained, it would seem, from revisiting questions of journalism and professionalization from an explicitly sociological angle—articulating a deeper understanding of journalism’s troubled professional project, the relationship between the objectivity norm and that project, and the manner in which journalists attempt to forge a journalistic jurisdiction out of the link between their everyday work and their heavily qualified claim to possess a form of professionalized knowledge.

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