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 freedom in terms of performance regulations and subjects they choose to discuss in their writing. There is little commonality between journalists as their work is greatly based on personal interests.
Also taken into account are several characteristics of professions from the book ‘The Professions in America’. The book includes objective thinking, trustworthiness, high levels of expertise, requested protection, solidarity among members and entrance standards as the primary characteristics required by an occupation to be deemed a profession.
Merrill considers also several characteristics of professions outlined by Bernard Barber in ‘The Professions in America’. Barber argues there are four attributes an occupation must present to be named a profession which include; high level of systematic and generalized knowledge, orientation to the community rather than to the individual, group-controlled behavior and a...