Public Journalism Opponents and Advocates Not Easily Stereotyped

By Corrigan, Don | St. Louis Journalism Review, October 1997 | Go to article overview

Public Journalism Opponents and Advocates Not Easily Stereotyped


Corrigan, Don, St. Louis Journalism Review


The public journalism movement's never-ending road show makes a stop this October in Denver at the Society of Professional Journalists, (SPJ) annual convention.

Advocates of public journalism at the Denver SPJ convention will take up a panel proposition entitled: "Why Journalists Hate Public Journalism And Why Academics Love It."

Survey research by St. Louis Journalism Review/Webster University (SJR/WU) reveals that the academic community is hardly unanimous in its affection for public journalism, while practitioners are not all opposed to public journalism (See SJR, April 1997.)

SJR recently interviewed professors of journalism across the country and found that some of the most articulate critics of public journalism are in the academy.

Public journalism proponents argue that the new approach to journalism is not easily defined because it is "a work in progress." In describing the unique characteristics of public journalism, advocate Davis "Buzz" Merritt contends that it:

* Moves beyond the limited mission of "telling the news" to a broader mission of helping public life go well.

* Moves from detachment to being a fair-minded participant in public life. Its practitioners remember that they are citizens as well as journalists.

* Moves beyond only describing what "is going wrong" to also imagining what "going right" would be like.

* Moves from seeing people as consumers to seeing them as a public, as potential actors in arriving at democratic solutions to public problems.

"When I think of public journalism, I think of a bunch of editors and reporters holding hands together and singing, 'We Are The World,'" said Jay Brodell of Metropolitan State University in Denver. "The idea that a newspaper should be some kind of collaborator in community building is not journalism.

"The role of the press should be to stand back and observe as fairly as humanly possible what's going on in a community," explained Brodell.

The Denver professor said public journalism diminishes that function and instead turns the press into "a bunch of community cheerleaders."

There are a number of explanations for the misconception that professors are universally gaga over the public journalism movement. Among them:

* Jay Rosen, who is often credited as the intellect behind the movement, is a professor. Rosen chose the academic life after a short stint working in traditional journalism, an encounter which he found to be unsatisfactory.

* Journalism professors have flocked to write grant applications to foundations sponsoring public journalism projects. Successful grant applications make academic deans smile and pave the road to tenure for many faculty.

* One of the fastest-growing interest groups of the Association For Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) has been in the public journalism area. Panels on public journalism have proliferated at AEJMC conventions, and papers accepted for presentation have almost always been supportive of the movement.

"There's a hard core of journalism professors who are fully committed to public journalism," said Gerald Stone, who is director of journalism graduate studies at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. "They give papers, hold workshops and give classes on public journalism. I think they'll be doing this for some time to come.

"I don't think this movement has gotten the scrutiny and criticism that it should," continued Stone. "Quite frankly, I think this is because some academic heavyweights have gotten behind it, and some foundations are out there with them, and so a lot of professors are reticent to say too much against it. It deserves more scrutiny."

Stone said he was originally "quite impressed" with public journalism, but has become more of a skeptic as he has watched different projects unfold. He said he dislikes projects that involve a newspaper covering forums and town hall meetings that the newspaper has helped sponsor. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Public Journalism Opponents and Advocates Not Easily Stereotyped
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.