Who are U.S. journalists? What are their backgrounds and educational experiences? Why did they choose journalism as an occupation? What do they think about their work? What are their professional and ethical values? What kinds of work do they consider their best? Do men differ from women on these questions? Do ethnic and racial minorities differ from the majority? Do journalists working for different print and broadcast news media differ?
This book uses findings from the most comprehensive and representative study ever done of the demographic and educational backgrounds, working conditions, and professional and ethical values of 1,410 U.S. print and broadcast journalists working in the 1990s to answer these questions, including separate analyses for women and minority news people. It also compares many of these findings with those from the major studies of the early 1970s and 1980s. As such, it should be the standard reference on U.S. journalists for years to come.
In addition, this study goes beyond the previous two in adding more open-ended questions to explain and enrich quantitative findings, in the belief that the numbers by themselves are not enough to provide explanations for the patterns that emerge. This book includes more of the journalists' own words to fill this gap, as well as an analysis of samples of their self-selected best work.
"The most incisive report on factors that shaped American journalists over the last three decades -- and the attitudes, fears, and dreams that may well predict their future. Perhaps the book's main contribution is its discussion of issues such as autonomy, professionalism, roles, values, and ethics. These topics include data from the book as well as elsewhere, and are too rich to be devoured at one sitting. Readers will find a need to digest and reflect."
—Journalism & Mass Communication Educator
"This elegant mapping of what has happened to mainstream journalists over the past decade raises a very serious question. Does the rising level of unhappiness among the ranks forecast a deterioration of quality in the news product on which we depend? The corporate world, the profession, indeed all citizens, need take note, worry, and seek solutions."
The Brookings Institution
Contents: E.E. Dennis, Foreword: Background Check -- Why the Public Needs to Know More About News People. Preface. Basic Characteristics of U.S. Journalists. Education and Training. Job Conditions and Satisfactions. Professionalism: Roles, Values, Ethics. Women Journalists. Minority Journalists. Journalists' Best Work. Conclusions. T.R. Brown, Afterword: A Calling at Risk? Appendices: Methods. 1992 Journalists Survey Questionnaire. Coding Schedule for Journalists' Best Work.
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