“Practical Reporting”: Late Nineteenth-Century Journalistic Standards and Rule Breaking
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© American Journalism Historians Association. This study uses the “occupational” autobiographies of reporters and related documents to trace the diffusion of professional standards through late nineteenth-century newsrooms. It found broad agreement among journalists on definitions of news, the methods for its collection, and the routines for its preparation in story format. “Cub” reporters learned these standards through observation and trial and error. Because of economic conditions in the publishing industry and conditions within newsrooms, journalists also developed a parallel set of standards for falsifying or exaggerating stories. The study concludes that sharing standards for breaking news work conventions was as essential to the formation of news workers’ professional identities as was following the accepted standards.
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