Bas den Herder: A Question of Autonomy – The interview in France, England and the Netherlands, 1880 – 2005 (2008-2014)

Bas den Herder – A Question of Autonomy – The interview in France, England and the Netherlands, 1880 – 2005
Project: Reporting at the boundaries of the public sphere. Form, Style and Strategy of European Journalism, 1880-2005
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Department of Journalism
prof. Marcel Broersma
2008 – 2014 (expected)

Journalistic Autonomy and the Political Interview

The political newspaper interview was introduced in the American ‘yellow press’ of the 1830s and in Europe from the 1850s onwards. That makes it a relatively new journalistic genre. Initially, it was not generally accepted to quote someone’s words directly. Therefore, the interview met with cultural resistance and it was not until the 1950s that it became a widely accepted, ordinary form of journalism. Nowadays, interviews are inevitable: in every newspaper, several of them are published. Politicians have always maintained an ambivalent position towards the interview. On the one hand, it is a unique way of easily reaching out personally to a large audience. On the other hand, being interviewed poses the risk of revealing too much or of making a public gaffe. There is no question, however, that over the longer 20th century, politicians became much more approachable and media-friendly.

Research question and Hypothesis

What is the impact of the increasing use of the interview as a genre on the individual autonomy and mutual interdependence of the journalistic and the political field in the Netherlands, Great Britain and France?

Increasing economic and political freedom leads to greater autonomy of the journalistic field. On the other hand, politicians have become much more media-savvy. I consider the history of journalism from the perspective of a continuous struggle for power between politicians and journalists.