Swedish media’s going through a very rough time and they’re not alone in the world. An already limited number of media in this relatively small market (Sweden has a population of 10 million) has seen readers/listeners/viewers leave for free online news or else they're downloading ad blockers. It’s estimated that around 40% of Swedes have ad blockers installed. So with lower revenue from subscriptions as well as advertising not being viewed, several media have disappeared. Those still around, have cut down or dropped print editions or cut down on editorial staff. With less journalistic content, it's even less likely for anyone to pay subscription fees, making this a vicious circle.
But Swedish national media is fighting back and fighting well. Over the past few years we've seen an increasing amount of impressive investigative journalism. Especially national newspaper Dagens Nyheter but also Svenska Dagbladet have uncovered many scandals in both private and public sector as well as national radio programme Kaliber, radio news and current affairs programmes Ekot and Studio 1 and many more. Swedish decision makers no longer have only feared journalist Janne Josefsson from Swedish Television’s long-running investigative programme Uppdrag Granskning to worry about.
It's the law!
Swedish media is often called third state power, where the other two are the government and the parliament> Media is there to monitor them. Worth remembering is that Sweden has the world’s oldest law regarding freedom of the press, based on legislation from 1766 and it's included in the constitution.
It’s great to see this working in practice. We’re getting a much more diverse media landscape and I’m convinced this great journalism will lead to more people willing to pay for subscriptions and turn off their ad blockers.
I’m now waiting to see if local and regional news can find it’s place in the new media landscape in the same way. Maybe learn from the US where local media increasingly own and run with local issues, engaging with local readers in a totally new way. “Not just covering communities but reaching them” as Amy O’Leary puts it in Nieman Lab's predictions for journalism 2017. An interesting read!