Reflective Practices in Journalism

“Reflective practices, through recognizing the value of private reflection, opens up for public scrutiny our interpretations and evaluations of our plans and actions” (Raelin, J 2002 p.2)

Reflective practices are becoming more common place in work places and industries around the world. Put very basically it is the practice of reevaluating ones work to then improve and hone skills for next time. It is being used in businesses to increase productivity and performance even being used as a teaching tool for student teachers of English as a Foreign Language in Taiwan (Yang, S.-H. 2009 p.1). Most industries see it as a valuable tool but it is a very debated topic in the media industry.

“Your job’s to report the news! Leave the analysing to society”

(Niblock,S 2007)

That is the opinion Sarah Niblocks recalls one of her past editors voicing on the idea of reflective practices. Steve Hill describes the world of journalism as very fleeting (Hill,S 2007) and it is no surprise that a practice that consumes time would be strongly opposed by groups within the industry.

“Once a magazine has gine to bed or a newspaper story has been filled you move on to the next deadline” (Hill, S 2007)

With the internet revolution in progress the media industry is in a hurry to try and adapt. Competition is no longer local but international and with more being expected of news rooms for smaller costs it is understandable that some journalist disagree with the idea of having reflective practices a common place in journalism. For a newsroom to ad hear to regular reflective practices it could result in missing out on a big story to their competitors who don’t implement reflective practices.

“Delaying decisions is seen as a sign of weakness, even if the delay may subsequently produce a better decision…society gives reflection and its counterpart-listening-short shifts” (Raelin, J 2002 p.1)

Joseph A.Raelin explained the benefits of reflective practices in his article “I Don’t Have Time to Think!” versus the Act of Reflective Practice. His reasons for reflective practices were that it help make aware behavior and its consequences; it highlights the gap between what we see we will do and what we actually do; it highlights any biases that may have crept in due to the sources consulted; and that situations may be similar but can not be resolved in the same way. (Raelin, J 2002 p.2-3)

These reasons are things that journalists should be considering when reporting any story in order to keep it in line with industry code of ethics and as Tony Harcup sees it a journalists “ethical responsibility”(Harcup, T 2009 p.211). Being aware of these things can be even more important in broadcast journalism with sever time restrictions journalists have to work in to portray a whole unbias story.

“broadcast language can be misheard and misreported and therefore easily misunderstood” (Herbert, J 2000 p.141)

Elfriede Fursich feels that there is only one way to overcome this, “only self-reflective and critical approaches towards traditionalritualistic reporting and production strategies can help to disentangle problematic media representations” (Fursich, E 2002 p.2).

Reflective practices in journalism are a great concept and would create a learning environment within a newsroom pushing closer to a utopian idea of journalism. However there will always be debate on its implementation within the media industry and whether the skills gained outweigh the time spent on it.



Hill, S 2007. Reflective Practice for Journalists. (last viewed 27/03/2012)

Raelin, J 2002. “I Don’t Have Time to Think!” versus the Art of Reflective Practice. Reflections Volume 4 Number 1. Society for Organizational Learning and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harcup, T 2009. Journalism: Principles and Practice. SAGE publications: London

Yang, S.-H. (2009). Using Blogs to Enhance Critical Reflection and Community of Practice. Educational Technology & Society

Niblock, S 2007. From “Knowing How” To “Being Able”. Journalism Practice Vol. 1, Iss. 1 (last viewed 27/03/2012)

Fursich, E 2002. How can global journalists represent the ‘Other’? SAGE Publication: London
Herbert, J 2000. Journalism in the digital age: Theory and practice for broadcast, print and on-line media. Reed Educational and Professional Publishing: Oxford
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