This content analysis explores how American journalism's first trade publications reflected discussion of ethical issues before and during the Progressive Era. While issues of normative behavior for reporters and editors were thought to have developed from earlier efforts to professionalize the field, this study suggests that the two areas, while intertwined, developed along different trajectories. The analysis, based on content from a random weekly sample of the earliest trade journals from 1884 to 1912, also found that the trade journals addressed issues of normative values as much or more than they did issues of professionalism during their early years, contrary to the assumption that focus on the former followed establishment of the latter. Results also provide some support for the claim that historical events that are significant in the field of journalism influence the amount of ethics-related discussion found in the early trade journals.
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