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History In The Making:
How Long-form Journalism Frames Contemporary Histories, Building Mosaics Out of Ruins, Fragments and Ephemera

PhD thesis completed 2021

This exegesis for a professional practice PhD reflects on narrative theories influencing my long-form radio journalism on recent instabilities and disunity in Europe. Jürgen Habermas once explained¹ how the ‘Fourth Estate’ helped shape ‘the public sphere (die Öffentlichkeit)’, an idea that generations of journalists have worked by. To complement that insight, this exegesis combines self-reflection on my practice with studies of other instances, theories and practices of long-form narration. I also suggest how and why long-form journalism equates with the telling of contemporary history.


The initial ‘news’ prompts for the outputs occasioning this exegesis for a practice-based PhD were Europe’s recent crise de conscience. The recent work discussed in this exegesis for a PhD continued my long-form journalistic examination of Europe over the past ten years. The work is aggregated on a website, The Identity Papers²—so called, because the radio material mulls over a region with an evolving identity crisis.


The European crisis ‘news’ prompts of this recent journalism are less central to this exegesis of a practice-based PhD than is my discussion of meaning-shaping forms and functions of long-form journalism itself. My approach is guided by the method and example of Walter Benjamin. The key agenda of this exegesis ponders the contexts and precedents, forms and practices of long-form journalism. By exploring narrative issues of efficacy, appropriateness and juxtaposition, I emphasise how long-form journalism is also a cross-disciplinary telling of contemporary histories.

You can access the thesis here



… and The Identity Papers website here