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Week 7 - Christopher Meyers (Professionalism).docx

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Philosophy 2730F/G
Ryan Robb

Christopher Meyers 10/30/2012 3:53:00 PM Lecture 7 Principles Articulating What We Expect from Journalists Christopher Meyers  Professionalism, Not Professionals o The increase in sources of information creates a need to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate journalism  The best means of doing so is to shift from focusing on the source of the information and instead articulate clear criteria that examples of legitimate journalism satisfy  So you don’t care who wrote a piece or where it was published, focusing instead on the extent to which each published piece satisfies these criteria o Journalism is Not a Profession  Meyers says journalism should not become a profession, but should accept and adopt moral values  Professional – so dedicated to a job that it is a calling that  Serves a vital need  Is primarily intellectual  Mainly autonomous/self-regulating  Committed to satisfying client’s basic needs  The concept as defined is normative in the sense that the relationships between professionals and their clients structured by the above criteria, generates a structural trust  Clients trust professionals because of their rigid training and subsequent expertise  The approach to journalism is also normative; Meyers is trying to present an argument about what journalism should strive to be, rather than an account of what it is in terms of the practice of journalism  That journalism is not a profession does not imply that journalists cannot strive to behave professionally, that is, be highly competent at their task and perform it in an ethical manner  The History of Professions o The first field to formally professionalize was medicine in an effort to distinguish those who practiced on the basis of science from those who based their practices on theology or experiential approaches – the goal was to establish a monopoly  Though they weren’t always motivated by noble goals, medicine’s development of rigid accreditation standards ultimately provided a legitimate and necessary foundation of trust  Journalism and the Rise of the Internet o Journalism developed a de-facto monopoly over the dissemination of information as a result of economic factors – to determine whether a story was legitimate journalism, you needed to simply identify the source  The advent of the internet ended that monopoly, meaning both experts and non-experts can claim an equal legitimacy, irrespective of the quality of information provided o Hence the push in for journalism to become a formal profession; to provide a clear and simple mechanism by which to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate journalism  Journalism Cannot be a Profession o Journalism meets a vital need (the provision of information), but it does not require formal training, identifying a journalist’s client is difficult, and there is no state sanctioned legal monopoly o More importantly perhaps, journalism is intended to critique the status quo which is comprised in large part of professionals – so if journalism was to become a profession, it would be thwarting one of its central objectives o What journalism should strive to do is:  Develop standards of best practices that can be performed in an ethical manner  Create a voluntary accreditation scheme  Seize control of quality standards from the economic control of employers – fight against the profit motive  Encourage consumers to become more media savvy  The Professionalism of Journalism o Technology ended the previous monopoly on journalism because it ended the preferential access of journalists to publicly relevant information and provided all with the means to distribute the information o So journalism will have to be distinguished by reference to two broad qualitative criteria:  There must be evidentiary and expressive standards  Conducted in accord with basic values like enlightenment, independence, and social responsibility o Even if there was a standard of journalistic ethics, it has now disappeared  What is Journalism Anyway? o The reason there are no clear standards of journalism or journalistic ethics is because those standards have been altered owing to the changing circumstances of journalism o The new ethic is characterized by its commitment to radically expanding who gets to produce journalism and develop standards  While the invitation to participate has been made to all, little has been done to identify or articulate proper standards of legitimate participation  Encourages everyone to participate whether or not their information is correct or
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