Learning the Outsider Profession: Serial Advice Columns in The Journalist Academic Article uri icon


  • 2010, American Journalism Historians Association. This article explores the role a late nineteenth-century trade journal. The Journalist, played in disseminating standardized reporting practices and rules of behavior and in sorting labor away from already saturated markets. An examination offour, multi-part serials published by this trade weekly found they contained guidelinesfor defining. gathering. and writing news stories. However, this study also found the column writers gave pragmatic advice about coping with barriers to accepted reporting practices. In some cases. the authors showed beginners how to bendor otherwise successfully violate the rules, or counseled them to abandon professional standards when instructed to by editors and publishers. This indicates early news trade journals functioned as much as forums for building community and discussing why journalism could not attain the same sort ofprofessional standards as law and medicine as they did agents ofprofessionalization. Although this article continues media history s investigation of the professionalization ofjournalism, it presents evidence that even early practitioners recognized that this effort would not follow a linear path.

published proceedings

  • American Journalism

author list (cited authors)

  • Sumpter, R. S.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010 11:11 AM