Reflective Journalism

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Submitted By kdrwalsh
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This article considers how professionals "think by doing" and provides a theoretical rationale for reflective practice as a model for teaching journalism. It presents a model focused on the development of graduate efficacy in the intellectual skills and understanding required of professional practitioners. The model uses critical reflection as a cognitive bridge between journalism theory and professional practice. Through it, students develop self-reliance, confidence, problem solving, and adaptability, while simultaneously gaining knowledge and developing a sense of efficacy in their ability to negotiate inherent dilemmas in practice. When pedagogical strategies “block the exits” to escape from the implications and effects of their practice, students are held to high benchmarks of critical and reflective thinking. The “lived” experience provided by a problem-based pedagogy also develops confidence and a sense of efficacy in students. Moreover, this approach integrates thinking and doing in a way that binds practices with the social and ethical effects produced.


Journalists often describe their thinking as so intrinsic as to defy explanation. They say they “know a good story when they see one” and “know what to do without thinking" because their thinking processes, once internalised, are used almost without consciousness. But as Adam (1993:11,13) found, journalism always involves the conferring of judgement on the shape of things. So it is important that journalists can recognise the influences on their thinking in a context “where every decision is a professional decision, a commercial decision and an ethical decision” (Sheridan Burns 1995:5).

This model uses critical reflection as a cognitive bridge between journalism theory and professional practice. Through it, students develop self-reliance, confidence, problem solving, and…...

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