Monday, February 18, 2008

On journalism's professionalism v quality v career

There has been some debate around the blogsphere this weekend about professional journalism.

It seemed to start with Howard Owens who was rather critical of the profession in his post "How to re invent journalism"

It is certainly worth a read and there are some good points,but comments such as

Stop writing for the front page. Too many journalists — and I was this way as a reporter, too — think that getting a story on the front page is the only viable confirmation of their worth as a journalist.

Stop treating journalism like a competition. It’s fun to beat the other news outlets, but that shouldn’t be the only reason to pursue a story. Treating every story like a scoop leads to errors, both in reporting and thought process about how to handle the story.

Seem to suggest that journalists has according to Howard sacrificed its quality elements in an attempt to chase readership and get themselves noticed.

On the same day Howard posts that "Maybe it is journalism itself which is the problem in which he suggests that

"individual journalists start paying attention to what readers want. That was the point behind my reader satisfaction post. The goal is to find some meaningful measure of reader satisfaction and fashion a new journalism that meets reader needs

Adrian Monck has not taken to these comments saying that

the decline of newspapers has almost nothing to do with the lengthy moral failures of print journalism
and refering to

journalism’s culture of self-flagellation

I like Kristine Lowe's analogy of a news story

we should also look hard at just how professional supposed professional journalism is. Today I heard a CEO of a large insurance firm talk about the day his company eliminated 200 jobs — 200 out of 40,000. He talked about how he prepared his employees for the media onslaught he knew was coming, with anchors bellowing and headlines screaming about the downturn of the company’s fortunes. These weren’t even layoffs, but merely the elimination of unfilled positions

For the public this is often how the profession is seen,rightly or wrongly.Whether that is the fault of journalism or simply a failed perception is debatable.

It is interesting going back to Howard Owen's earlier point that journalism teaching tells you to go out and get by lines,so that you have got something on the Cv to present to perspective employers.It is no different to any other career really in that you have to get yourself noticed.The question is when does that drive mean that quality is sacrificed in the search for glory


Howard Owens said...

You quote Kristen Lowe quoting me as if that came from her.

And the point of the CEO story is that there is something critically wrong with journalism when every story, no matter how trivial, must be sensationalized, and that people who pay attention (such as the CEO) know it and must brace themselves and others for the onslaught of inaccuracy and misrepresentation by reporters.

Nigel Barlow said...


My apologies,

I agree with you,the story does show that some aspects of journalism trivialize and sensationlize issues.

The problem as I see it is that all journalists are then saddled with this brush.You bring up some very good ideas about how the profession breaks this mould.It starts,i believe in journalism schools.