Stoker, Ruth (2020) An investigation into the learning of journalism ethics by early career journalists in the workplace. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study considers how early career journalists, located in the British provincial press, learn occupational ethics in the workplace in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. It draws on a review of literature about teaching and learning of journalism ethics in Britain, and also on interviews with early career journalists and those with responsibility for managing their training. It concludes that early career journalists learn ethics in the workplace from their Community of Practice and through exposure to formal and informal learning opportunities, but the nature of that learning is under-developed and informal influences on journalists’ understanding of ethical conduct are not properly recognised. Formal learning is heavily influenced by a single training organisation, the National Council for Training Journalists, which has been slow to adequately address journalism ethics through its curriculum despite repeated government inquiries into press conduct, and although ethics was introduced as an explicit area for study following the conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, it is predicated on the understanding of the Editors’ Code of Practice and the regulatory framework which the British press aligns itself towards. This narrow interpretation of journalism ethics constrains early career journalists’ understanding of wider ethical considerations through formal learning opportunities. Informal learning of journalism ethics is located through their participation in a Community of Practice where they gain a broader understanding of occupational ethics through legitimate participation in that community as they move from the periphery to full membership via their interactions with colleagues and also with the wider local community, where the desire to be trusted in the production of news shapes this understanding. The absence of formally facilitated reflective space where informal learning of journalism ethics could be identified as such and consolidated in the understanding of the learner means that the informal learning experiences are not recognised as such. As a result, early career journalists conflate occupational ethics with an observance of a regulatory code and do not fully recognise wider considerations as matters of journalism ethics.

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