Values Attributed to Arab Professionalism in Arab Academic Journalism Education

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Monika LENGAUER, Technische Universitat Dortmund, Germany
This study is set in the Arab world in times of uprisings, when the media and social media are considered instrumental in giving a voice to the struggles for a better world and creating the future the Arab people aspire. Exploring the values attributed to professionalism in Arab journalism education, the theory of the professions suggests itself. The appeal of the professions is proliferating outside of the Anglo-American space, yet, hitherto, little is known in sociology about the professions in the Arab world.

Professionalism is a value that institutions of tertiary education in the Arab world strive for, in universities as well as in academic journalism programmes, with objectives highlighting marketable skills and/or sophistication, committing to excellence and ethics. This observation leads to the question whether this variation stakes out an understanding of Arab professionalism, and to which definition it points.   

The study was piloted in Jordan, and carried out in Lebanon, Morocco (2013) and Egypt, Qatar (2014). Ninety-six face-to-face interviews were conducted by the author. The respondents represent media academia (faculty, students), media practitioners and their audiences, social media, journalistic associations, policymakers, donor institutions.

The study suggests that Arab professionalism may well be described as "non-amateur, regular work that follows specific standards and provides a living (but does not necessarily create wealth). Ethical values preside over the profession. The professional is bound to achieve excellent work results through comprehensive and certified knowledge - possibly based upon academic research and gained in academic programmes - and through an altruistic motivation, servicing the beneficiaries, the individual as well as the society". Associations are not being introduced as a trait in journalistic professionalism, at least not pro-actively.  Respondents highlight that this description of Arab professionalism outlines the ideal and does not necessarily reflect reality.