From Objectivity to Interpretive Sufficiency
Clifford G. Christians
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The contemporary version of the press traces its beginning to the 1890s. The media developed into an industrial structure, and the first forays into journalism education appeared. The press took shape as a complex and diversified social institution, with journalists an expert class pursuing specialized tasks. The North American press began understanding itself during this decade not as a political forum or socializing force, but as a corporate economic structure marketing a commodity for consumers. Structural patterns of authority and accountability were utilitarian in form, and utilitarianism characterized the press's organizational culture, which in turn was rooted in industrial production and market distribution. The industrialization and commercialization of the media displaced an earlier news culture that had used partisan advantage as its main standard. With the industrialization of the press, media occupations, especially journalism, began to redefine themselves as middle-class professions and sought a place within the rising university system.
A university education for journalists was first seriously attempted late in the 19th century. By 1910 when Flexner had written his monumental Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching on professional training in a university context, journalism education had adopted a functional