The Question of Professionalism and Ideology in the Press: Morocco in Case

23 January, 2019

Mohammad Al-Bakali’s The Question of Professionalism and Ideology in the Press: Morocco in Case (303 pp.), has recently been published by the Arab center. It represents a sociological study for Moroccan journalists that tries to answer a number of questions. Who are the Moroccan journalists? What is the organizational and institutional context of their work? What values do they defend at the professional and personal levels in relation to sociological variables? What are the main dimensions of their identity? In dealing with these questions, Al-Bakali adopts four sociological approaches: the identity approach, the institutional approach, the professional values approach and the personal values approach.

Al-Bakali explores the development of the media as an institution, employing a theoretical disambiguation of the media as a structure in order to define the research domain of this subject. Al-Bakali argues that the development of the Moroccan press was not accompanied by scientific research; the profession established its traditions and charted the limits of its practices without subjecting these traditions to scientific accountability or academic supervision. The press was considered a tool for conflict and subjugation and only recently came to be seen as a type of research.

The book also looks at Journalists and demographic changes in Morocco, journalists within the establishment, ethics and professional conscience in the press. It deals with the political and intellectual affiliations of journalists and the “environmentalization” of values in the context of the relationship between religion and state as two societies “living under one roof”, claiming this relationship affects the neutrality of the reporters. Al-Bakali goes on to explore the frictions between conservativism and modernity and the transformations of values. He argues that there is an attempt to reconcile two disparate values: first, the values rooted in principle that express what should be, and consist of the individual's religious, moral or humanitarian convictions. The second expresses need and interest, which is a system built on realism and necessity. Individuals live in a state of continuous negotiation between these two systems, which often has an impact on journalists.

Finally, the author goes on to discuss the multiple identities in Morocco, looking specifically at journalists. He finds three main dimensions to the identity of journalists: the religious dimension, the national dimension and the cosmic dimension. Their classification here refers to their sense of belonging to a nation based on religion, national borders, geographical affiliation or cosmic belonging. The author studies the social transformations between individualism and solidarity, and the fears and anxieties of transformation. The values of individuality that have made breakthroughs at the intellectual level with respect to the independence of individual decisions and values have not yet reached the behavioral level that affects the family and social fabric. There is a collective conviction of the value of solidarity at the social level, but this conviction varies between groups, and perhaps the most striking observation is the high proportion of faith in the value of individuality among journalists working in the electronic and the free press.

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