Journalism as a practical program in universities has grown in tandem with the professionalization of journalism, so much so that journalism education and professionalization are sometimes treated as synonymous. This association is ripe for critical review. With an increasing amount of journalism being practiced outside of professional news organizations, pragmatic reasons suggest widening the scope of practical journalism education to include semi-professional and non-professional forms. Principled reasons also support such a move. Inspired by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the practice of journalism can be properly thought of as a human right belonging to “everyone.” Therefore, practical journalism education should be something more than a production line for professional news workers. The need to go beyond professionalization is especially poignant in Singapore, where this essay is grounded. The consolidation of Singapore’s hegemonic, soft-authoritarian regime has arguably been aided by press professionalization. While some aspects of professionalism, such as its emphasis on autonomy and editorial integrity, are supportive of press freedom and democracy, professionalization has also been associated with two trends-commercialization and political detachment-that make the news media more easily co-opted by the state. This double-edged effect of professionalization compels a re-think among educators who may have too hastily rejected non-professional and semi-professional forms of journalism as worthy of their promotion.
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