If there is any service that is being greatly taken for granted, it is the service that journalists provide for citizens. Many belittle the service with attitudes and comments such as “this is so easy, even I could do it”.
The service is even more damaged by acts of people like Jayson Blair who rapidly climbed up the success ladder as a journalist by plagiarizing and fabricating stories. Too add the icing on the cake, his own editors, who job it is to seek truth and report it, failed seek the truth of the many accusations of Blair, punish him and report it an effort to be transparent. Instead all of their actions were reactive to the situation.
Like in any profession or any area of life, there are people committing wrong acts that give their organization a bad name. Journalists report countless stories of doctors treating patients wrong or even killing them. I work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and we are always learning of lawyers across the nation who are getting disbarred from practices. However, you don’t hear of the medical field or the law field having to forfeit their rights to be called a profession.
A quote that professor has quoted on occasion in her class explains why the journalist field cannot escape the ever careful eye of scrutiny. Generally speaking, the quote is the difference between journalists and other professions is that when doctors make mistakes, they put them in the grave. When lawyers make mistakes, they put them in jail. When journalists make mistakes, they put them on the front page.
To answer the question of the debate of whether or not journalism should be a profession, yes it should be, and the journalists that practice it should be regarded as professionals as well.
Journalism should be considered as a profession because while although journalists don’t agree on the specific, they do share transcending values in which they hold themselves accountable too. They are trained to regard, analyze and disseminate phenomena (Weaver, Reader 199).
These transcending values are to seek the truth and report it truthfully and objectively so that citizens can have verifiable information about their world and to keep government accountable, to be independent and fair, and provide a public forum. Journalists are also committed to free expression as well (Gade, Reader 263)
In Beam’s reading, it lists various characteristics of a profession. Journalisms meets the following listed characteristics: an occupation organized around a body of knowledge or specialized technique, members are willing to put public service ahead of economic gain, has an established professional culture that generally promotes the value of journalists, and the occupation socializes its members through education and training (Beam, Reader 227).
Some would argue that journalism could not be considered as a profession because it is a profession that is not based on strict educational requirements and licensing (Weaver, Reader 199). And a great majority would also argue that the development of citizen-based journalism is indeed proving that anyone can do journalism so journalism is far from being a profession. I would counter argue that that’s the beauty of the profession. In professor Gade’s chapter entitled “Reshaping the Journalistic Culture”, he describes the journalism profession as a “semi-profession” due to journalism’s rejection of formal definitions but its consideration of the traits, attributes and functions of the cohort, and because the profession is not legally mandated.
The journalism field is a special field because it has major factors constantly changing it. Some of these factors are identified as technology, economic and the duality purpose of journalism, which is to serve both as journalistic and commercial enterprises (Gade, Reader 263). While I believe that educational requirements are indeed necessary, I also believe that strict educational requirements would be a waste of time. I believe balancing these factors while trying to survive the credibility of the paper comes from trained experience. The profession of journalism would not able to rapidly change as various factors require it too if it had to adhere to licensing. Not only that, the profession of journalism would not be able to provide information critical of the government or big businesses if it had to adhere to licensing laws. We saw evidence of this in the 1700s and 1800s with the seditious laws that constricted the growth of journalism.