As I have reported, Swedish media is in disgustingly rude health but enough warning signs are there to have motivated some bold innovation.
At the Swedish Journalism Fund’s 40th anniversary conference there was a panel of pioneers.
Martin Jonsson from Svenska Dagbladet conducted an interesting exercise where he got his staff to all interview a small group of readers each and then create a newspaper out of what they said. It was the first time that many had actually spoken to the people who pay their wages.
His paper has been conducting an online investigation in real time where they have been putting data online and asking readers to contribute. It’s a complex investigation into mismanagement of funds by local authorities but it has been making headlines here.
Cilla Benko from Swedish Radio stressed how their upmarket offering is actually pulling in more listeners but she warned that they are not diverse enough in their content. She showed me a brilliant iPhone application where you can download any programme instantly including the latest bulletins.
Sandra Jakob at hd.se has the grim task of convincing old codgers to become new media afficianadoes. She does it by showing how it works as practical journalism. One investigation conducted through online crowd-sourcing into sale of booze to minors got 500 contributions from different readers.
Another local journalist stressed the need to use new media to keep a global perspective as Sweden becomes more multicultural. A recent local story involved dodgy connections to criminals in Somalia, for example.
Overall, there was a keen sense of how to use new media techniques to heighten the relevance of their work to readers’ lives and to their information consumption habits.
Interestingly, they identified the lack of development training for management as a key blocker as well as the need for much more in-depth on-site training and new skills, such as non-English languages to cope with a multi-language society.
Thanks to their cohesive social structures and strong civil society, plus the high education standards and national wealth, Sweden is a natural breeding ground for Networked Journalism. I look forward to watching them go forward.