Reflective Practice, Literature Review By: Sankalp Reddy
Journalism education, and also practice, has a strong experiential component. In order to truly advance as a journalist, one must reflect on past experiences to better themselves. This review looks at a variety of literature on reflective practice, and gives an overview on definitions, advantages, and criticisms of reflective practice in journalism, specifically in broadcast.
Reflective practice can be differentiated by two distinct terms. ‘Reflection in action,’ and ‘reflection on action,’ terms coined by Donald Schon. (Pearson 2008). Schon believed that the use of reflective practice allows reporters to adapt their journalistic behaviour to challenges they may face in the field (Pearson 2008). Many journalists have since applied this method of reflection.
Reflection in action is all about the decisions we make day-today and ‘on our feet.’ In broadcast, interviewing is all about being able to think fast and on-the-go. In interviewing, it’s important to establish what you want to achieve from your talent, and what angle your story will cover. Reflecting during this process allows one to gain clarity and carry a goal and purpose into the interview. This is especially important for broadcast journalists because often a short grab might be all they need to make their story complete, meaning they don’t have the scope to wander as print journalists. Reflection after our story involves reassessing the experience as a whole, allowing one to improve in future works (Sarah Niblock “From ‘Knowing How To Being Able’”, 2007).
Tony Harcup’s views in “Journalism: principles and practice”(2009) relate to Niblock’s in that they both state that broadcast journalism feels far more spontaneous in comparison to print. He states that the style of reporting focuses on the present, rather than past. This is why journalists need to reflect on their work, to nurture and grow our skills as a journalist.
While reflection is a useful tool for practicing journalists, it also plays a vital part in journalism education. According to Forbes (2011), reflective practice early in a student’s learning is invaluable because it teaches students from very early on to react to their field experiences. This is beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it allows them to correct mistakes by learning from past experiences. Secondly, it allows them to independently evaluate the quality of work produced, so get better and better at identifying what makes a story newsworthy and what to look out for when preparing a story – for broadcast or print. This is a vital skill for any journalist.
However, while this review has focused on the many benefits in reflective practice, not everyone sees it this way. In his online Blog, freelance journalist Steve Hill recognises one major problem in reflective practice. When reflection is done badly it can come across as self-indulgent – “Critics of reflection, of which there are many, see it as just ‘navel gazing’” (Hill, 2012).
Reflective practice in the field of journalism is an important skill, for both educating others and improving the self. While there are criticisms, it is widely accepted that when applied correctly it is invaluable. Through reflection, a journalist is able to evaluate previous situations and focus on how to better approach similar situations in the future. Thus reflection encourages critical thinking and bridges the gap between theory and practice, a vital skill in journalism.
Forbes, Amy (2011) “Evidence of learning in reflective practice: A case study of computer-assisted analysis of students’ reflective blogs” p.11-14
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Harcup, Tony “Journalism: principles and practice”(2009),
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Hill, Steve “Reflective Practice for Journalists” (2012),
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Niblock, Sarah From “Knowing How” to “Being Able”, (2007)
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Pearson, Mark (2000) Reflective practice in action: preparing Samoan journalists to cover court Cases,
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