Literature Review; ‘Reflective Practice’

Lynette Sheridan Burns wrote that; “‘a journalist who is conscious of and understands the active decisions that make up daily practice is best prepared to negotiate the challenges involved’’ (Burns, 2002, pp. 11). This quote encapsulates just what this literature review will examine; various writings related to and campaigning for the use of reflective practice in journalism. The literature is predominantly made up of scholarly articles sourced from various databases and focus mostly upon the beneficial aspects of reflective practice.

Rod Allen & Nod Miller focused upon the current state of Journalism degrees in the modern university and how the majority of lecturers are ex-hacks themselves, thus resulting in a chiefly practical-based education environment. “Students write stories, produce newspapers, television and radio programs, and generally speaking work in an environment which is intended to seem more like a workplace than a university” (Allen & Miller). Their academic post also carried the connotation that in the modern age, if a journalist wishes to be successful, he or she must understand the processes and theories of mass communication as well as the practical skills of the craft related to the practice (Allen & Miller).

In Mark Pearson’s paper; ‘Reflective Practice in Action: Preparing Samoan journalists to cover court cases’ relates to the authors involvement in the instructing of Samoan journalists prior to a vital court case in the late 1990’s. Pearson’s predominant focus was on enabling the journalists to “reflect in action” so that they “would be equipped to adapt their journalistic behaviour to the challenges which presented during the trial” (Pearson, 2000, pp. 2). The paper concluded with a positive assessment in relation to how rewarding teaching methods can be with regards to reflective practice.

Richard Keeble, the author of ‘Print Journalism: A Critical Understanding’ focused a chapter of his book on the importance of reflective practice and just how a journalist can become a reflective practitioner. Keeble referenced the work of Boud, Cohen and Walker (1993) and published a checklist of propositions about learning from experience;

“1. Experience is the foundation  of, and stimulus for, learning.
2. Learners actively construct their own experience.
3. Learning is holistic.
4. Learning is socially and culturally constructed.
5. Learning is influenced by the socio-emotional context in which it occurs.”

Keeble’s chapter summarized that “learning from experience takes place through a number of filters that ensure that each learners perception of a given experience is different from another’s” (Keeble, 2005, pp. 324).

Sarah Niblock focuses upon the importance of the journalist to reflect upon their actions whilst practicing. This allows the journalist to develop a set of internal questions and new strategies that might be applied to improve their performance next time” (Niblock, 2007, pp 25). The literature also described that while journalists usually tend to look forward and anticipate their next news cycle as a result of the fast paced nature of the job, they also utilize a great deal of the previous experience and apply it in new situations (Niblock, 2007, pp. 25). The article concluded by stating the importance of bridging the gap between theory and practice, as well as campaigning for the increased usage of practice-as-research.

In summary, a common theme throughout the literature was the acknowledgement that reflective practice has a somewhat negative following; “Critics of reflection, of which there are many, see it as just ‘navel gazing’” (New Journalism Review, 2010). All facets of the literature however related the importance of the implementation of reflective practice in journalism and the need for universities to teach a concise understanding of it to their pupils.

Administration 2010, ‘Reflective Practice For Journalists’, New Journalism Review,

Allen, R & Miller, N Date Unknown, ‘Reflective Practice in Journalism Education’

Burns, L 2002, ‘Understanding Journalism’

Keeble, R 2005, ‘Print Journalism: A Critical Introduction, Routledge Publishing

Niblock, S 2007, ‘From “Knowing How” To “Being Able”; Negotiating the meanings of reflexive research in journalism studies’, Journalism Practice 1 (1): 20 – 32,

Pearson, M 2000, ‘Reflective practice in action: preparing Samoan journalists to cover court cases’’, Bond University,


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