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The Contemporary Realities of the Media Welfare State: a Symposium on Media Policy and Local Journalism

Arranged by Media and Communications Studies.

Is there a specific Nordic media model and how can it in that case be charachterized? In comparative media research there has for long been an understanding of a Nordic exceptionalism in the ways media and communication are organized in society: strong public service, public funding for media and communication infrastructure, long tradition of press freedom and high levels of trust in the media, are examples of traits common for the Nordic media societies (Hallin & Mancini 2004). Trine Syvertesen et al suggested in 2014 that there are grounds to speak about a Nordic “media welfare state”, in the same way as welfare politics in other areas share common traits in the Nordic region (what has been labelled a “social democratic welfare regime). Other researchers has even seen such a media welfare state as a normative ideal, a media system that is beneficial for democracy and that produces a well-informed public, a sprawling public sphere and an equal access to news, information and culture (Benson, Powers & Neff 2017; Bonini 2017).

The welfare state as such, the Nordic model, med relative peace on the labour market, strong unions, a highly developed publicly financed welfare, free education, small class differences and a high level of equality is however rapidly changing (Kvist & Fritzell 2011; Therborn 2020). What does that mean for the media welfare state? Is it for example the case that the media systems in the Nordic countries becomes more similar to the ‘liberal’ media systems of the US and UK? (Ohlson 2015). Or is it the case that the media welfare state, with adjustments such as increased privatization and harmonization to EU-policy, still are standing strong, as suggested by Syvertsen et al (2014)? (see also Allern & Pollack 2017; Kammer 2016). Or do we need entirely new concepts in order to understand how the media welfare state are changing? Is it for example possible to talk about a specific Nordic form of neoliberal media welfare states? (Lindell, Jakobsson & Stiernstedt, forthcoming)? And what does the political and ideological transformations in Europe and other parts of the world mean for the media welfare state, such as for example the rise of more authoritarian political regimes and media systems (for example in Poland, Romania and Russia)?

In this symposium such questions are discussed from different perspectives. During the first day (working language English) the Nordic media model as a concept is discussed in relation to today’s realities. On the second day (working language Swedish) we focus more specifically on journalism, and especially local journalism, and asks how it transforms in relation to technical, economic and political challenges.

The Symposium takes place via Zoom. Please contact for link.

09.15-10.00: The Media Welfare State: Why such a concept, what is it used for, does it have a future? (Gunn Enli & Trine Syvertsen, University of Oslo).

10.00-10.45: Nordic Media Welfare State and the “Finnish model”: National distinctions or a gradual deviation from the norm? (Marko Ala-Fossi, Tampere University).

10.45-11.30: A Neoliberal Media Welfare State? The Swedish Media System in Transformation (Johan Lindell, Uppsala University, Peter Jakobsson, Uppsala University and Fredrik Stiernstedt, Södertörn University).

11.30-12.15: Between welfare ideals and corporate market power: the institutionalisation of digital communication in Denmark (Sofie Flensburg, University of Copenhagen).

All the seminars will be given in Swedish.

09.15-09.30: Välkommen

09.30-10.15: Lokaljournalistiken och mediepolitiken – ägarkoncentration och centralisering, nya typer av lokala medier och ett mediestöd i omvandling. (Gunnar Nygren, Södertörns högskola)


10.30-11.45: Entreprenörskap i lokala medier på landsbygden – framtidens journalistik (Elisabeth Stúr)

11.45-12.30: Lokaltidningarnas familjesidor som demokrativerktyg? (Michael Karlsson & Erika Hellekant Rowe)

Time and place

30 November 09:15 - 01 December 12:30


Via Zoom (kontakta Saga Hansén för länk)


Arranged by

Media and Communication Studies at the School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University



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