Marcel Broersma: From Press History to the History of Journalism National and Transnational Features of Dutch Scholarship

In this essay the historiography on journalism in the Netherlands is critically examined. Three stages are distinguished in scholarship, moving from press history, i.e. mapping the institutional history of the press, to journalism history to the history of journalism. The latter indicates a shift from history focused on news production and professionalization to an approach that also includes the content, form and style of news coverage. It is argued that this pattern is not necessarily unique to the Dutch case and might be present in other European countries as well. Furthermore, following in the footsteps of Carey and Curran it is contended that a transnational grand narrative of journalism is implicitly in evidence in European historiography. This narrative is a story of continuous progress in which the development of journalism is interpreted as a long road from a partisan press to press freedom, including the establishment of an autonomous profession independent of political and economic powers that obeys more or less the objectivity regime and the practices and formal conventions resulting from it. This article concludes with a plea for a more nuanced history of journalism that takes reflective styles of journalism seriously and demonstrates the interplay between national specificities and transnational universals.