Qualifying the Impact of 'Commercialization' on the Cultural Coverage of Dutch, French, German and U.S. Newspapers, 1955-2005
Dept. of Media and Communication / Dept. of Arts and Culture Studies Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam, Rotterdam
Since the 1950s, the coverage given to the arts and culture in Western newspapers seems to have undergone significant changes, which appear closely connected to wider changes in the domains of culture and journalism. According to the research literature, a key development in both fields has been 'commercialization': newspapers as well as producers and mediators in virtual all cultural fields have become more oriented toward commercial values and practices, which has led to a series of transformations in the journalism of arts and culture. However, commercialization is a multidimensional, longitudinal, and internationally highly variable process (Benson 2000, 2005; Essner 1999, Norris 2000; Schoenbach and Lauf 2002). In this paper, we therefore use a long-term, cross-national research design and a variety of empirical measures to study the alleged' commercialization' of arts journalism. Our research aim is twofold: (i) to qualify the impact of commercializing forces on the volume, content and appearance of the arts and cultural coverage in elite newspapers of four different countries - France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States - between 1955-2005 and (ii) to explore whether and how commercial influences are weakened or strengthened by specific features of the journalistic field (Benson 2005) and the cultural field in each country. To this end, for each country, we conduct a comprehensive content analysis of the arts and cultural coverage as well as the cultural advertising in mainstream newspapers. For our typology of each country?s journalistic and cultural field, we draw on the available research literature and secondary data on (among other things) developments in the newspaper market, media and cultural policy frameworks, and the preferences of cultural consumers.