journalism


journalism
/jerr"nl iz'euhm/, n.
1. the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
2. press1 (def. 32).
3. a course of study preparing students for careers in reporting, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines.
4. writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing: He calls himself a historian, but his books are mere journalism.
[1825-35; < F journalisme. See JOURNAL, -ISM]

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Collection, preparation, and distribution of news and related commentary and feature materials through media such as pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, and books.

The term was originally applied to the reportage of current events in printed form, specifically newspapers, but in the late 20th century it came to include electronic media as well. It is sometimes used to refer to writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation. Colleges and universities confer degrees in journalism and sponsor research in related fields such as media studies and journalism ethics.

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Introduction

      the collection, preparation, and distribution of news and related commentary and feature materials through such media as pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, radio, motion pictures, television, and books. The word journalism was originally applied to the reportage of current events in printed form, specifically newspapers, but with the advent of radio and television in the 20th century, the use of the term has broadened to include all printed and electronic communication dealing with current affairs.

History.
      The earliest known journalistic product was a newssheet circulated in ancient Rome called the Acta Diurna. Published daily from 59 BC, it was hung in prominent places and recorded important social and political events. In China during the T'ang dynasty a court circular called a pao, or “report,” was issued to government officials. This gazette appeared in various forms and under various names more or less continually to the end of the Ch'ing dynasty in 1911. The first regularly published newspapers (newspaper) appeared in German cities and in Antwerp around 1609. The first English newspaper, the Weekly Newes, was published in 1622. One of the first daily newspapers, The Daily Courant, appeared in 1702.

      At first hindered by government-imposed censorship, restrictions, and taxes, newspapers in the 18th century came to enjoy the reportorial freedom and indispensable function that they have retained to the present day. The growing demand for newspapers owing to the spread of literacy and the introduction of steam- and then electric-driven presses caused the daily circulation of newspapers to rise from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands and eventually to millions.

      Magazines (magazine), which had started in the 17th century as learned journals, began to feature opinion-forming articles on current affairs, such as those in the Tatler (1709–11) and the Spectator (1711–12). In the 1830s cheap, mass-circulation magazines aimed at a wider and less well-educated public appeared, as well as illustrated and women's magazines. The cost of large-scale news gathering led to the formation of news agencies (news agency), organizations that sold their international journalistic reporting to many different individual newspapers and magazines. The invention of the telegraph and then the radio and television brought about a great increase in the speed and timeliness of journalistic activity and at the same time provided massive new outlets and audiences for their electronically distributed products. In the late 20th century satellites were being used for the long-distance transmission on journalistic information.

The profession.
      Journalism in the 20th century has been marked by a growing sense of professionalism. There were four important factors in this trend: the increasing organization of working journalists; specialized education for journalism; a growing literature dealing with the history, problems, and techniques of mass communication; and an increasing sense of social responsibility on the part of journalists.

      An organization of journalists began as early as 1883, with the foundation of England's chartered Institute of Journalists. Like the American Newspaper Guild, organized in 1933, and the Fédération Nationale de la Presse Française, the institute functions as both a trade union and a professional organization.

      Before the latter part of the 19th century, most journalists learned their craft as apprentices, beginning as copyboys or cub reporters. The first university course in journalism was given at the University of Missouri (Columbia) in 1879–84. In 1912 Columbia University in New York City established the first graduate program in journalism, endowed by a grant from the New York City editor and publisher Joseph Pulitzer. It was recognized that the growing complexity of news reporting and newspaper operation required a great deal of specialized training. Editors also found that in-depth reporting of special types of news, such as political affairs, business, economics, and science, often demanded reporters with background training in these areas. The advent of motion pictures, radio, and television as news media called for an ever-increasing battery of new skills and techniques in gathering and presenting the news. By the 1950s, courses in journalism or communications were commonly offered in colleges.

      The literature of the subject—which in 1900 was limited to two textbooks, a few collections of lectures and essays, and a small number of histories and biographies—became copious and varied by the late 20th century. It ranged from histories of journalism to texts for reporters and photographers to books of conviction and debate by journalists on journalistic capabilities, methods, and ethics.

      Concern for social responsibility in journalism is largely a product of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The earliest newspapers and journals were generally violently partisan in politics and considered that the fulfillment of their social responsibility lay in proselytizing their own party's position and denouncing that of the opposition. As the reading public grew, however, the newspapers grew in size and wealth and became increasingly independent. Newspapers began to mount their own popular and sensational “crusades” in order to increase their circulation. The culmination of this trend was the “ yellow journalism” (q.v.) competition between two New York City papers, the World and the Journal, in the 1890s.

      The sense of social responsibility made notable growth as a result of specialized education and widespread discussion of press responsibilities in books and periodicals and at the meetings of the associations. Such reports as that of the Royal Commission on the Press (1949) in Great Britain and the less extensive A Free and Responsible Press (1947) by an unofficial Commission on the Freedom of the Press in the United States did much to stimulate self-examination on the part of practising journalists.

      By the late 20th century studies showed that journalists as a group were generally idealistic about their role in bringing the facts to the public in an impartial manner. Various societies of journalists have issued statements of ethics, of which that of the American Society of Newspaper Editors is perhaps the best known.

Present-day journalism.
      Although the core of journalism has always been the news, the latter word has acquired so many secondary meanings that the term “hard news” has gained currency to distinguish items of definite news value from others of marginal significance. This is largely a consequence of the advent of radio and television reporting, which bring news bulletins to the public with speed that the press cannot hope to match. To hold their audience, newspapers have provided increasing quantities of interpretive material—articles on the background of the news, personality sketches, and columns of timely comment by writers skilled in presenting opinion in readable form. By the mid-1960s most newspapers, particularly evening and Sunday editions, were relying heavily on magazine techniques, except for their content of “hard news,” where the traditional rule of objectivity still applied. News magazines in much of their reporting were blending news with editorial comment.

      Journalism in book form has a short but vivid history. The proliferation of paperback books during the decades after World War II gave impetus to the journalistic book, exemplified by works reporting and analyzing election campaigns, political scandals, and world affairs in general, and the “new journalism” of such authors as Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, and Norman Mailer.

      The 20th century has seen a renewal of the strictures and limitations imposed upon the press by governments. In countries with Communist governments, the press is owned by the state, and journalists and editors are government employees. Under such a system, the prime function of the press to report the news is combined with the duty to uphold and support the national ideology and the declared goals of the state. This leads to a situation in which the positive achievements of Communist states are stressed by the media, while their failings are underreported or ignored. This rigorous censorship pervades journalism in Communist countries.

      In non-Communist developing nations the press enjoys varying degrees of freedom, ranging from the discreet and occasional use of self-censorship on matters embarrassing to the home government to a strict and omnipresent censorship akin to that of Communist countries. The press enjoys the maximum amount of freedom in most English-speaking countries and in the nations of western Europe.

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Universalium. 2010.

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