NORDICOM: Jonas Ohlsson is the New Director, Conference on Digital Paywalls is ‘on the cards’ in January 2019


NORDICOM: Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research, University of Gothenburg, is organizing a two-day conference on digital media’s paywalls titled ‘Behind the Paywall 2019: A Cross-Thematic Conference on the Implications of the Budding Market for Paid-for Online News’ from January 23–24, 2019, and it is inviting researchers to send abstracts by November 15, 2018.

PAYWALLS & JOURNALISM: Paywalls put up by newspapers is one of the hottest topics in journalism and media sectors. Paywalls prevent people from accessing information (news) sourced by professional journalists, but how can newspapers make money (profits or to sustain the media businesses)? If people do not get access to news sourced by journalists on digital media, they end up accessing information sourced by non-professionals including fake-news generators, propagandists of a country (alleged Russian interference in US Presidential elections) or political party and campaigners with a vested interest.

Jonas Ohlsson is the new director of Nordicom and editor-in-chief of Nordicom’s academic publications. His research areas include media economics and media structure. He noted that there has been a ‘dramatic upsurge in paywalls being erected across the news media landscape’ because of the imperative for generating money to run media organizations. However, the internet (www) was projected as the information superhighway where everyone gets access to information but that has proved otherwise (nothing is free: your data is collected when you download an app or upload a photo or a video).

Almost all the newspapers in Sweden have paywalls – a reader has to pay to read the content but Jonas acknowledged the gesture of the Swedish newspapers who removed their paywalls at the time of Swedish Elections held on 9 September 2018.

NORDICOM identifies that paywalls raise ‘important questions regarding such diverse topics as digital business models and digital media policy, journalistic processes and journalistic content, news media audiences and news media use…democratic function of commercial news media at large. What happens with news media products and what happens with news media audiences when paywalls are erected? What happens with those that chose not to pay? And how does this metamorphosis of the private news media sector affect the role and scope of public service media?’ The conference will take place (depending upon the response from international research community) against the backdrop of the paywalls on digital media. For more information, check:

SWEDEN & INTERNET: One of NORDICOM’S latest publications is about Swedes’ media habits citing Internet Foundation in Sweden. It identifies that ‘social media and digital media platforms continue to increase’, the usage of media differs between generations (older people, above 65 years, read a print newspaper), media consumers subscribe to a digital newspapers but ‘this increase is not enough to compensate for the decrease in printed newspaper subscriptions’, interestingly ‘the share of daily readers of digital newspapers is now higher than that of daily readers of print newspapers’, traditional TV viewing is decreasing but ‘still retains the greatest proportion of viewers compared to other platforms’, people are opting to watch online ‘at the expense of traditional TV’, listeners for online platforms (radio, podcasts, music) is increasing, ‘Spotify dominates among people under the age of 46, and linear offline radio is by far the largest among people over 45’ among others.

Nordicom is a non-profit organisation with its head office in Gothenburg, Sweden but has it offices in all the Nordic countries. It is part of the biennial international research conference organized by NordMedia.

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