Academic journal article Scandinavian Studies

Communicating Politics: Political Communication in the Nordic Countries

Academic journal article Scandinavian Studies

Communicating Politics: Political Communication in the Nordic Countries

Article excerpt

Communicating Politics: Political Communication in the Nordic Countries. Eds. Jesper Stromback, Mark Orsten, and Toril Aalberg. Sweden: Nordicom, 2008. Pp. 276.

Too few comparative studies focus on the role of the media in Nordic societies. In an edited volume featuring country experts, each of the political communication systems in the Nordic states are examined. The authors explore similarities and differences among the Nordics, as well as contrast these Nordic systems to developments in other advanced industrial societies. While the Nordics conform to theories of "democratic corporatism," they have developed in ways that also mirror what is happening in other societies--from commercialization of the media to a growing professionalism of political communication.

In Nordic societies, four general trends are discernible, according to the authors. First, a highly developed market for newspapers is visible in each society, with varying levels of circulation. Norway ranks second in the world behind Japan in the number of readers of daily newspapers, and Iceland has in general fewer numbers of papers. However, the trends throughout the Nordic area reflect a growing dependence on advertising for political media to survive.

A second feature of Nordic media and political communication systems is a close tie between political parties and the press, referred to by the authors as "political parallelism? This development has become less prominent as more and more news organizations have sought an independent status since the 1970S and 1980s.

Another feature of the Nordics is journalistic professionalism. Declining reliance on party affiliated news sources is correlated with a rise in journalistic professionalism. The press can and does counter the views of political parties in recent decades across the Nordic area.

A final consistent aspect of Nordic media systems is the role of the state. While levels of involvement have varied, public radio and television have depended upon state subsidies. In recent decades there has been a decrease in state support and a rise in commercialism. …

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