What does the term “journalism practice” mean to you?

I am working on my next book ‘The Fifth Estate’ which explores media professionalism and training in the digital age. It’s due to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in a few months’ time. Journalism as an activity is becoming decoupled from the media industry it was once strongly connected to. So where does that leave oft-used terms such as journalism practice, context and theory? They used to mean quite specific things – you read about them in training manuals, or ingested their precepts from abiding books and chapters. But my research over the past few years convinces me that the education and training of journalists needs to be more diverse to better prepare the next generation for the creative potential they have.

At the moment, I am very interested in what practice actually means to journalists. Is practice determined by the journalism industry or is it in you – perhaps an accumulation of training, perceptions, shaped by experiences but also inflected by witnessing the work of others?

I have a hunch that we learn the ropes and “know how” to do what the job requires initially, but then over time we start to “own’ those skills ourselves and adapt them, even subvert them, for our own ends. That, for me, sets journalism apart from typical professions and locates it somewhere very different.

If you read this, let me know your thoughts. Is practice a set of skills that you learn then apply according to what is required by your media outlet at any given moment. “knowing how”. Detachment.

Or is practice “being able”, accumulated over time. Attachment.

Or is it something else? I am also interested in how far the training manuals reflect editorial decision-making “on the ground”.

Thanks for reading this.


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