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Squaring the Circle. News in Public Service and Commercial Television in Sweden 1956-1999

Journal article
Authors Monika Djerf-Pierre
Published in Journalism Studies
Volume 1
Issue 2
Pages 239-260
Publication year 2000
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 239-260
Language en
Keywords Journalistic Norms, News, Popularization, Public Service Broadcasting, Tabloidization
Subject categories Media and Communications


ABSTRACT This article explores to what extent public service news reporting in Sweden has undergone any signiŽcant changes during the last decade, when public service broadcasting became exposed to commercial competition. The analysis employs a historical approach that serves to uncover the trajectory of news reporting and journalism from the early days of regular television broadcasting in 1956 until the 1990s. The article aims to resolve some of the complexities and apparent contradictions of the “popularization” of news in Swedish television, and the analysis addresses changes in news format and news organization as well as the speciŽ c aesthetics and discourse that characterize news as a cultural form. The argument advanced is that the empirical evidence lends very little support to the suggestion of a linear and continuous trend from a serious, informative coverage of society towards more lightweight journalism geared to maximize ratings. The long-term development of television news in Sweden can not be understood simply as a trend over time. A more apt way of describing the development is to conceive of it as characterized by three phases: (1) objectivism 1956–65, (2) critical scrutiny (1966–85), and (3) popularization (1986—the present). Each of these phases has been characterized by speciŽ c practices of news selection and modes of representation, connected to systems of journalistic ideals and norms.

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