More public and less experts: a normative framework for re-connecting the work of journalists with the work of citizens

Marietjie Myburg


The potential of journalists to build a habit of participative and informed political discussion between government and citizens and between citizens and citizens has been eroded by a breakdown in trust between citizens and journalists. This breakdown is in part due to journalists being seen as experts favouring other experts as sources and marginalising the views of citizens - not just in relation to the covering of events but also in the investigation of possible solutions to public problem solving. This mirrors technocratic and expert-driven tendencies in government which further alienate citizens from the political process.


This essay uses three theoretical frameworks - democratic professionalism, public journalism and deliberative democracy - to explore the effects of expert-driven professionalism both in the state and in journalism and the implications of this approach for the relationship between journalists and citizens. It proposes that a shift in the way journalists consider their professional role could lead to a re-assessment of the political work of journalists and the political work of citizens and build new habits of participation and discussion in the political process of communities.



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