VIEW is now ten years old. It is still, after all this time, innovative among academic journals for several reasons.
Most academic journals in the field of media are published by commercial organisations whose business model involves taking the voluntary labour of academic writer and peer reviewers and then selling it back to academic institutions for substantial subscriptions. Some even charge authors for the privilege of appearing in their pages, or to enable their work to be downloaded by readers for free. From the start VIEW has published under Creative Commons licenses. It supports the recent NECS statement on open science and scholarship: “The benefits of open access to publications and research data--F.A.I.R. (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) open data--for the Humanities, and in this case more specifically for media scholars, echo the benefits for all academics: the spread of knowledge itself, relief for overstretched library budgets, and increased readership and a citation advantage.”
The continuing support of Beeld en Geluid has enabled this open access publication process. As one of Europe’s most exemplary television archives, Beeld en Geluid has acted as publisher and funder, providing both the publication platform and administrative support for the work of the journal. VIEW is profoundly grateful for Beeld en Geluid’s steadfast, enlightened and far-sighted support.
From its inception, VIEW was an online journal. Ten years ago, this was an adventurous decision: few models existed. Already digital decay means that early editions, though still available, have been deprived of some of their original features. The advantages of online publication were obvious from the start. Writers could include within their articles clips, colour images, extracts from interviews and even their own ‘mashups’ (as practice of making video essays tended to be known then). To view video extracts within an article can transform it. It enables readers unfamiliar with particular programmes (that is, almost all of us) to see for themselves the material under discussion. It enables the sharing of important material that has been discovered within the archives (one of the functions of the ‘Discovery’ section of the journal). Some writers have taken full advantage of this, but perhaps surprisingly they remain in a minority.
VIEW grew out of the long-term EUscreen project which received a series of grants from the European Commission, beginning with VideoActive in 2006. This work aimed to improve the quality of European TV archives in both their digitisation and their access practices. From the beginning, EUscreen was a coalition between archivists, academic researchers and media historians. EUscreen eventually created a website giving access to over 60.000 items from broadcaster and other archives, which is actively curated by the EUscreen Foundation. VIEW was launched from within that project and continues to be part of this unique network. The journal acts both as a platform for critical reflection on the role of television in Europe’s past and presence and as a multi-media platform for the presentation and re-use of digitized audiovisual material. In doing so, VIEW challenged a long tradition of television research that was – and to a huge amount still is – based on the analysis of written sources. In offering a unique technical infrastructure for a multi-media presentation of critical reflections on European television, the journal aims at stimulating new narrative forms of online storytelling.
Ten years on, VIEW still seeks to further the common culture of archivists and researchers around the preservation and study of television history. EUscreen gives VIEW its focus on the materiality of TV’s history (its technologies and institutions) as well as the social and cultural nature of its archival texts.
VIEW declares its European focus in its subtitle: ‘Journal of European Television History and Cultures’. It focuses on television as an important part of our European cultural heritage. VIEW has been able to articulate many of the factors that make television, on a European level, different from the American model that sometimes seems to dominate academic thinking on the subject. VIEW has explored the centrality of public service broadcasting to television’s evolution in Europe. VIEW has discovered the many ways in which broadcast television crossed Europe’s political borders, through cross-border co-operation, linguistic minorities and the permeation of Western European broadcasts to the East during the cold war. VIEW has also explored television’s cultural heritage in Europe. VIEW demonstrates that there is a lot more to television on a European level than Eurovision, as well as providing a valuable corrective to ideas of US domination of European screens expressed in ideas like ‘wall-to-wall Dallas’ or ‘Netflix domination’.
VIEW has published nineteen issues to date. It has made interdisciplinary contributions to television scholarship internationally. Through its various thematic issues, VIEW has explored television as a cultural phenomenon and historical narrative, as a political and social institution, as a business model, as well as technological infrastructures and material artifacts. It has looked at the diverse institutional forms that television in Europe took: from public and commercial national television, to regional, local and hyperlocal community television. It has explored television forms and formats in a transnational and European context: from adaptations, co-productions, canned television to media events, interactive and transmedia non-fiction or archive-based productions. It has discussed television genres that originated within specific national contexts in Europe, such as the Polish block-of-flats series, the Scandinavian Nordic Noir or the Flemish Belgian Bright. It has approached television in close relation to its social fabric through the lens of television memories and processes of remembering or through the lens of social phenomena such as health and healthcare. It has investigated television as inseparable from European history, key historical events and (post) Cold War narratives.
Besides its thematic contributions to television scholarship, each and every issue of VIEW has made theoretical, methodological as well as practical contributions to the fields of television history, media studies, media sociology, cultural studies, television studies, archival studies and digital humanities. The Exploratory section of the journal has put forward articles that contribute to theoretical and methodological debates on television history and culture. The Discovery section has promoted articles that draw attention to the use of archival sources in television research, experiment with multimedia storytelling and bridge between academic communities, archival and professional communities.
Last, but not least, VIEW has become a platform for community building and support among scholars and archivists working on European television history and culture.
VIEW is now an important resource for those teaching and researching television. Its online open access presence means that its articles reach a wider readership than the academy and its associated archivists and curators. There remains much to be done. The changes wrought by online television have brought a new attention to television’s place in the home and everyday culture, how tastes are cultivated, how the television production industry works. It has also, at last, brought a wider attention to the nature of television as a technology. Researchers are now examining the many uses of television beyond broadcast entertainment and information: its uses in industry, medicine and surveillance. Recent issues have begun to reflect this shift, which shows that, yet again, television history has much to reveal about the practices that shape our present.
John Ellis, Sonja de Leeuw and Dana Mustata
Posted on 18 Nov 2021