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Professional Journalism Essay

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In the article, ‘The Professionalization of Journalism’ John C. Merrill addresses the issue of whether or not journalism should become a professionalized occupation. Merrill notes that although journalism is not presently considered to be a profession, many journalists perceive themselves as being professionals. The Oxford Shorter Dictionary defines ‘profession’ as “Occupation which one professes to be skilled in and to follow. . . .A vocation in which professed knowledge of some branch of learning is used in its application to the affairs of others, or in the practice of an art based upon it.” Merrill outlines several advantages those within a professionalized occupation benefit from including an elite image, a level of regulation and standardization of the activities performed by individuals within that profession, and greater financial rewards. Throughout this article, Merrill considers many of the defining elements of a profession and considers whether it is appropriate for journalism to be included among professionalized occupations. In order to determine whether journalism should become professionalized, it is crucial to understand what the term professionalized entails. Merrill takes into account several definitions and criterion of what characteristics are required for an occupation to be considered professional, as well as the benefits and restrictions associated with the title.

One definition considered by Merrill in this article is that presented by sociologist William Goode, who states that being a professionalized occupation means belonging to a homogenous community in which members feel a sense of shared identity and common values. Merrill notes that journalists exercise a high level of occupational freed...


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...iteria limiting who can express themselves with the written word and who cannot. It would be next to impossible to give exclusive rights to some individuals to practice journalism which is another characteristic Merrill attributes to professions. The final professional attribute Merrill considers with respect to journalism, is the idea of a homogenous community presented by sociologist William Goode. Merrill notes that journalists do not compromise this idea of a homogenous community as they do not have a common self-identification or a clear vision of the role they are to play in society.

Merrill argues also that there are many elements of journalism that would be lost if it were to be professionalized such as journalists freedom of expression. The professionalization of journalism would narrow this creative occupation and limit many of its defining aspects.


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