Impartial reporter or écrivain engagé? Andrée Viollis and the transformation of French journalism, 1918–40

Harbers, F. & Broersma, M., Jun-2016, In : French history. 30, 2, p. 218-240 23 p.

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  • Impartial reporter or écrivain engagé?

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This article argues that French journalism, which historical development has often characterized as backward in comparison to its Anglo-American counterpart, changed more profoundly in the interwar years than is often acknowledged in scholarship into journalism history. Based on a textual analysis of the reportages Andree Viollis wrote about her 1931 trip to French Indochina and China, situated against the background of French journalism history, we challenge the dominance of the Anglo-American conception of the objectivity regime as a factual, impartial and depersonalized standard for professional journalism. work illustrates how in France the reflective reporting in the sense of mixing factual description with argumentation and opinions of engaged intellectual writers lost ground to their particular version of fact-centred reporting by so-called grand r"epor"ters, who interpreted objectivity as impartial reporting that was nevertheless structured by the mediating subjectivity of the reporter. These were, contrary to the rhetorically gifted ecrivain engage, expected to convey social reality in a descriptive manner, avoiding explicit political and ideological views. Yet reporters' personal experiences played a pivotal role, expressed in an evocative, literary style that was inspired by literary naturalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-240
Number of pages23
JournalFrench history
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2016



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