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Libby and the Death of Professional Journalism 3/12/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Journalism.

The hope that journalism might one day be accepted as a true profession suffered another blow with the recent Scooter Libby case, when reporters were forced to reveal their conversations with sources. The case put into plain view that while, as a society, we have created laws that protect the confidentiality of discussions between doctors and lawyers and their clients, we have never given similar protections to journalists at the federal level through “shield” laws. Could it be in part because medicine and law made it easier by providing society with reasons to believe their practitioners were different and more knowledgeable than other members of society by creating the hallmarks of a profession: agreed-to codes of ethics, licensing procedures, governing bodies, and requirements for continuing education? And, if so, is it too late for journalism to institute similar measures? Now, almost a century since the first journalism schools were created, and with the Internet exposing us to even more ways to practice the news-craft, it appears that time has finally run out.


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