Professionalism of News Workers:
The Creation and Evolution of the Concept


Lee B. Becker, Tudor Vlad, Edward M. Gans, Heidi Hatfield Edwards, George L. Daniels and Namkee Park*


The autumn 1964 issue of Journalism Quarterly contained an 11-page article titled simply: Professionalization Among Newsmen.

The article, authored by Jack M. McLeod, then an assistant professor and associate director of the Mass Communication Research Center (MCRC), and his master’s student, Searle E. Hawley Jr., drew upon the contemporary literature of the sociology of work and occupations as well as what the authors termed “communicator” studies to create a new concept for the field of mass communication: the degree of professional orientation of journalists.

McLeod and Hawley used a methodology and several specific items from work at the University of Michigan, where McLeod earned his doctorate, to create an index of professional orientation among news workers that is still heavily cited and used today, more than 35 years later.1 As the analysis by McLeod, Zubric and Boyle in Chapter 14 of this book shows, this work has been extensively cited in the communication field, where it has shaped much of the discussion of professionalism.

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