Baltic Sea

Viable local media for democracy around the Baltic Sea

Sara Karlén

Project Coordinator

Veronika Menjoun

Regional Manager

The Centre for Media Studies at Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE)
The Association of Local Newspapers in Poland (SGL)
Sustainable Development Goals in this project
SDG4 - Quality Education
SDG8 - Decent work and economic growth
Media viability
The Swedish Institute

The Nordic, Baltic, and Central European countries have their own unique media landscapes, but media across the Baltic Sea region also face common challenges. Challenges are even more obvious when it comes to local media serving local audiences and shaping the foundation of local democracy through public engagement. The media industry is handling the transition from traditional revenue models to digital platforms. Advertising revenues have declined, and there is an ongoing struggle to find sustainable business models adopted for digital transformation. For local media with limited funds, the transformation is even more demanding. This often results in closedowns and leaving wide geographies with no media to cover local public affairs issues and no information about local events. “News deserts” in many parts of the world have become a growing problem in recent years. The surviving local media outlets are forced to do layoffs, budget cuts, and reduce resources for quality journalism. It is challenging for local media to resource the conduction of in-depth reporting, investigative journalism, and coverage of complex issues. The shift to digital platforms, online distribution, and social media has created new opportunities but also challenges in terms of reaching audiences, ensuring quality journalism, and combating disinformation. 

What we do

This seeding project consists of a number of online and physical meetings with Polish, Baltic and Swedish media. These activities are focused on identifying methods, areas of common concern, testing ideas, specific topics, approaches and mapping partners (including media outlets) for future collaboration.  

 The project’s outcomes will provide Fojo and partners with strategic insights into the challenges, trends and opportunities that impact the viability and sustainability of independent media in the Baltic Sea Region. Based on the findings from the meetings and collected data a project concept will be drafted and hopefully utilised in a next application to relevant donors.  

 The future project will focus on enhancing the practice of journalism, developing media formats, products, and strategic and organisational media management. This is done to secure the viability and strengthen the relevance of independent local media for local audiences. The concept will present a strategy to address these shared challenges, primarily revolving around the struggle of local media to adapt to the digital age while sustaining their roles as pillars of local democracy and public engagement.