Since the late 15th century, use of the printing press has been an important cultural and commercial activity in the Low Countries. The production of atlases and books, of all kinds and in many lan guages, was an important economic activity, especially in the Re public during the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time, the publish ing houses served as the suppliers of the intellectual entrepot that the Republic formed in Europe, for example, through the circulation of many books by French philosophessuch as Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau that were forbidden in France.
   Journalism developed with the increasing circulation of periodi cals and daily newspapers, especially after the 18th century. Along side local papers in the Dutch language such as the Amsterdamsche Courant or the Oprechte Haerlemsche Courant from Abraham Casteleyn, French newspapers such as the Gazette de Leyde were published. News was also summarized in so-called news books, such as the Europische Mercurius. Although during the 18th century sev eral moralistic weeklies were published in the vein of the English Spectator, journalism was especially stimulated by the political con troversy between Orangists and the Patriots during the 1780s when many periodicals and pamphlets were published. Technological innovations and the founding of political parties after 1870 created a new stimulus for professional journalism and the circu lation of newspapers, especially when the special tax on newspapers was abolished in 1869. After a long period of local and ideological di versification, the trend over recent decades has been toward a merger of publishing companies. Nonetheless, the Netherlands still boasts many important publications such as the NRC/Handelsblad, Trouw, Volk skrant, Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad, Elsevier, De Groene, and Vrij Nederland. The oldest regional daily is the Leeuwarder Courant (since 1752). The tabloids Spitsand Metro, which are free of charge, have be come competitors recently.
   See also Censorship; JONG, Loe de (1914–2005); MEETER, Eillert (1818–1862).

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.


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