The media landscape is currently in a period of record transformation. Opportunities and competition have both multiplied as the level of fragmentation has increased. For democracy, this means there is both the chance to revitalize and the risk of the very opposite.
As an ever-greater number of channels are created to encourage participation in the public debate, we can see how free journalism is challenged both locally and abroad; partially by way of political restrictions and partially by threats and violence against journalists.
All the while, traditional media – daily newspapers in particular – are fighting for their very existence. Competing business models in the wake of digitization have put serious pressure on media outlets’ finances, which has led to major cut backs at editorial offices.
Put bluntly, it is no longer the case that the media are the obvious bedrock of local communities.
The question is: what effect will these changes have on democracy?
Since the start of the year, Lindholmen Science Park has been placing this question in the spotlight through the Media & Democracy project, and one aspect of this initiative is to participate in Meg, the Media Days forum in Gothenburg, on April 7 and 8.
This involves several initiatives:
Lindholmen will host a seminar with international speaker Azmat Khan. Khan, who has a background as an investigative reporter for both PBS Frontline and Al Jazeera, has now been recruited to the digital media success, Buzzfeed. What are her thoughts about developments surrounding the media and democracy, based on her experiences?
We will also have a stand that will be open for discussions and whose main event will be four live interviews on the theme of media and democracy. The four people taking the stage in turns will include:
- Gabriel Byström, Station Manager for Radio Sweden Skaraborg and previously long-standing Head of Culture at the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper. Also author of the book “Tystnadens triumf” (The triumph of silence), which details political developments in Hungary.
- Elza Dunkels, Researcher and Lecturer at Umeå University, specialized in the younger generation’s internet culture.
- Jeanette Gustafsdotter, Managing Director of the Swedish Media Publishers' Association.
- Ingela Wadbring, Head of Nordicom, which compiles all Nordic media research.
“The effects of the new media landscape on democracy and its development, whether positive or negative, is highly topical and it will be very exciting to hear our guests’ analyses,” says Martin Holmberg, Head Project Manager for Media and Democracy.
The aim of the project is to work together with the industry and academia to establish a developmental arena that connects the media’s need for innovation and forward-looking research in a natural way. In other words, an arena that stimulates and creates new and enabling knowledge in which the question of democracy is a linchpin.
Lindholmen Science Park has unique experience, both domestically and internationally, as a neutral host for just this kind of arena and project within the focus areas of Transport, IT and Media & Design.