Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Interdisciplinary Ph.D.

First Advisor

Buckholdt, David

Second Advisor

Slattery, Karen

Third Advisor

Garner, Ana

Abstract

This qualitative study used interviews and participant observations of practicing television journalists. The on-the-job successes and failures were studied in order to understand the divide between educational training and professional practice. The findings of this study should help educators better understand the nature of on-the-job success and failure as articulated by working television journalists. In turn, educators can use that knowledge to develop educational strategies that will better prepare students for entry into the profession.

In constructing a definition of success, the informants identified the following elements: success is in all levels; success is relative to a journalist's age; success is never a finale; success is moving forward, working forward; success is being accurate; success is having a positive impact as a professional; and success means avoiding preventable on-air mistakes. Additional individual characteristics were identified. According to the informants, failure means a lack of certain characteristics, such as being factually incorrect or biased, not accomplishing the core purposes of TV news, stubbornness for producers, and not finding the story for reporters and anchors.

The informants were ambivalent about their prior education. They felt it was necessary to learn about the theory of journalism in their educational training. However, they did not feel their education prepared them sufficiently for industry expectations.

The theoretical framework of organizational socialization was used as a lens to analyze the findings. By clarifying the elements of the socialization process, new graduates may have a better idea what to expect in the early stages of their careers. Educators can find ways to enhance their teaching by introducing students to the tacit practices and conventions of the industry. By doing so, interns and new graduates may be better equipped for the transition points in the socialization phases of news work.

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