Objectivity, Professionalism, and Truth Seeking

Authored by: C. W. Anderson , Michael Schudson

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138052888
eBook ISBN: 9781315167497
Adobe ISBN:


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In the past decade and a half, there has been a gradual rapprochement between the field of journalism studies and the subfield of sociology that examines professionalization and professional systems—the sociology of the professions. It seems clear to us that the crisis in journalistic business models and occupational status has had much to do with this shift—for several decades prior to this, it would be fair to say that these two fields have coexisted in a state of mutual indifference. And even today, few of the classic studies in the sociology of professions hazard even a guess as to journalism’s professional status, preferring for the most part to focus on the traditional professions of medicine and law (see, for example, Bledstein, 1976; Dingwall & Lewis, 1983; Haskell, 1984). At a time when many of the most important scholarly questions about journalism revolve around issues of the occupation’s power, authority, and professional status, there is still much to be gained from revisiting questions of journalism and professionalization from an explicitly sociological angle—articulating a deeper understanding of journalism’s troubled professional project, the relationship between the objectivity norm and that project, and the manner in which journalists attempt to forge a journalistic jurisdiction out of the link between their everyday work and their heavily qualified claim to possess a form of professionalized knowledge.

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