New Special Issue focuses on media systems in “the other” Nordic countries

Landscape with houses, Faroe Islands
Photo Meg Jerrard/Unsplash
A new Special Issue has just been published, entitled ”Media Systems in the other Nordic Countries and Autonomous Regions”. It focuses on the media systems in the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Sápmi and Åland. ​
New publication
 | 8 April 2021

The articles in this Special Issue each present original empirical data from the smaller Nordic countries and autonomous regions, which are sometimes forgotten when speaking of a Nordic media model. Together, the articles show how smaller countries and autonomous regions in the Nordics are more vulnerable to external pressure than the larger Nordic countries due to their smaller size.

“I think that one of the main contributions that can be taken away from this Special Issue is that size matters. It is very observable on an empirical level in this Special Issue what is in fact at play when media systems are very small”, says Ida Willig, professor at Roskilde University and one of the Special Issue editors in an interview about the Special Issue on NordMedia Network.

Guest editors are Ida Willig and Lars Nord.


Åland – a peculiar media system

By Carl-Gustav Lindén

This article analyses a micro media system on the Åland Islands that provides its citizens with exceptional access to media content. However, media diversity is dependent of the benevolence of one businessman, who controls both local newspapers. 

Anyone who is interested in local media and journalism as well as media as carriers of local culture and tradition will enjoy reading this article. Also, people who want a more diverse and nuanced perspective on media system.

A Sámi media system?

By Torkel Rasmussen, Inker-Anni Sara, & Roy Krøvel 

In this article, the authors propose a history of Sámi journalism and news media as a step in the direction of analysing the existing media system in Sápmi.

Fundamental processes governing the Sámi media system are subjected to regulations, procedures, and institutions external to Sámi society. This article calls for greater Sámi self-determination over key elements of the media system.

Media policy in Greenland

By Signe Ravn-Højgaard

This article describes the historical development of media policy in Greenland, and the shifts in the underlying normative and causal ideas that legitimise media policy. Due to the influence and institutional spill-over from Denmark, Greenlandic media policy fit rather well into the “Nordic media model” although media policy in Greenland is mostly formulated without long-term or broad political agreements.

Media support in Greenland is ad hoc, with sudden changes in the conditions of the media as a result. These sudden changes are problematic, as it creates instability for the media, and can ultimately make the media dependent on the political system. Broad, long-term political agreements, that characterised the other Nordic countries, is rarely used in Greenland. 

Political parallelism in Iceland: Perceived media-politics relations

By Birgir Guðmundsson

This article addresses the question of the persistence of political parallelism in Iceland in time of market media by construction a criterion of perceived parallelism between politics and media. Contrary to predictions that political parallelism would recede as media systems commercialize, the legacy of political party media in Iceland, commercialization and the polarizing effects of digitalization seem to produce a new and prolonged type of political parallelism.

The article is a case study that is at the same time an important contribution to comparative media systems research, in particular in the Nordic context. 

Superficial, shallow and reactive: How a small state news media covers politics 

By Jón Gunnar Ólafsson

The article examines how journalists, politicians, and the public, perceive political coverage in the news media in Iceland. According to interviews with Icelandic journalists and politicians, the mix of mainly commercial funding models and the smallness of the media market results in even more superficial and problematic coverage than in larger states. Survey answers illustrate that the public mostly agrees with interviewee perceptions concerning how the Icelandic media covers politics. 

This is the first study of its kind in Iceland to focus specifically on examining how the Icelandic media covers routine periods, outside of election campaigns and other big events. It highlights how people in Iceland perceive the news media to be overall producing problematic coverage that does not adequatly hold those in power to account and disseminate important information. 

Academics and students in the Nordic countries, policy makers, as well as those studying media and democracy, particularly in the smaller democracies of the world could benefit from reading this article. 

News consumption patterns in Iceland

By Valgerður Jóhannsdóttir

In this study, the author analyse news consumption patterns in Iceland, drawing on data from a survey conducted in 2017, and compare it with news consumption in other Nordic countries. It is the first such study in Iceland in the digital age. 

The findings demonstrate that news are widely consumed by the general public, as in general in the Nordic region. Online sites are Icelanders’ most popular main source of news, followed by television and then social media. Legacy media are still most people’s primary source of news, even if they are accessed on new platforms. Like in other Nordic countries, a small minority interacts with news online.

Particularities of media systems in the West Nordic countries

By Signe Ravn-Højgaard, Valgerður Jóhannsdóttir, Ragnar Karlsson, Rógvi Olavson, & Heini í Skorini 

This study compares the media systems of the West Nordic countries, namely the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland. 

It is argued that the West Nordic media systems fit into the “Nordic model” when it comes to the perception of media as cultural institutions as well as the central role of public service media. On the other hand, the micro-size of the media systems in the West Nordic countries makes them vulnerable, and makes editorial independence more difficult compared with their larger Nordic neighbours. The article also highlights how interplay between small size and distinct local factors shape the media system in each of the West Nordic countries.

Mia Jonsson LIndell

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