Submojour Report: 2. / 2.1 Diversified media landscapes

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This chapter focuses on the geographical setting which frames the business models of journalistic startups within national settings thus allowing for a comparison between countries.

It begins with a short introduction to the different media systems operating in the countries of this study and the relevant literature relating to media structures. It then presents how legacy media in each country is adapting to the changing economical environment, delineating the journalistic startup scene in those areas unique in both geography and culture.

This aims to give the reader a sense of the trends emerging in online journalism in each country and to give short descriptions of the types of companies that we have brought into the database.

2.1. Overview of media systems

Esa Sirkkunen

Before embarking on a detailed mapping of the media landscape in each country, it is important to understand how these geographic areas compare to one another. This section introduces the size of the media market or the amount of advertisement in euros or dollars, and describes the structure of the media field in each country. It presents key literature available on media industry mapping as background.


Country Population (est 2011) Internet users %2011/11 Newspaper reach %2010 Media
Size of MediaMarket(billions)
USA 313 232 044 78,3 39,6 $158,9 (2011) $ 557,9 (est. 2009)
Japan 126 475 664 79,1 90,9 ¥ 5710,0 (2011) ¥ 11800 (2010)
France  65 102 719 77,2 46,3 $ 9,5 (2010) $ 40,7 (2010)
UK  62 698 362 84,1 56,7 $11,7 (2010) $ 41,8 (2010)
Italy  61 016 804 58,7 45,9 € 6,3 (2011) € 28,8 (2010)
Spain  46 754 784 65,6 38,0 € 5,8 (2010) Not available
Finland  5 259 250 88,6 78,0 € 1,4 (2011) € 4,3 (2011)


Table 2.1.1. The countries in the study by population, %Internet users, %newspaper reach, the size of media advertising and the size of media market. Sources: WAN-IFRA World Press Trends, Internet World Stats.

In order to better understand the different circumstances in which media startups are operating, we need to look at the characteristics of media in each participating country. To date, most of the literature on the media is highly ethnocentric, in the sense that it refers only to the experience of a single country as Hallin and Mancini (2004) state. Yet media literature often implies that the model that prevailed in that country is universal. In their much-cited work comparing media systems in 18 countries in Western Europe and North America, Hallin and Mancini (2004) introduce three different media systems. They compare the structure of media markets, the political parallelism of journalism (parallelism is the degree to which the structure of the media system paralleled that of the party system), journalism and the role of the state and communication policies. “We place our primary focus on the relation between media systems and political systems, and therefore emphasize the analysis of journalism and the news media, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, media policy and law.” (Ibid)

The three models developed are the Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralist Model, the Northern European or Democratic Corporatist Model and the North Atlantic or Liberal Model.


The three Models /Media system characteristics Polarized pluralist:France, Italy, Spain Democratic-corporatist:Germany, Finland Liberal model:USA, UK
Newspaper industry Low newspaper circulation; elite oriented press High newspapercirculation; early
Medium newspaper circulation; early
commercial press
Political parallelism(how journalism reflects the political system) External pluralism,commentary-orientedjournalism, government model of broadcast governance External pluralism, strong party press,neutral commercialpress, politics-in -broadcasting system with substantial autonomy Neutral commercial press, information-oriented journalism, professional model of broadcast governance – formally autonomous system
Professionalisation Weaker professionalisation; instrumentalisation Strong professionalisation; institutionalised self-regulation Strong professionalisation; non-institutionalised self-regulation
Role of the state Strong state intervention, press subsidies in France and Italy Strong state intervention but with protection of press freedom, press subsidies (Finland) Market dominated(except strong public broadcasting in Britain, Ireland)


Table 2.1.2: Three different media systems according to Hallin-Mancini, 2004, 67. Shortened by Esa Sirkkunen.

In short, some of the features depicted in the models seem to remain relevant and timely to some countries involved in this project. For example the features of newspaper circulation, professionalisation of journalism or the role of the state among some seem to still follow the models built by Hallin and Mancini. The polarized pluralist countries are characterized by elite-oriented press and relatively low newspaper circulation, the broadcasting is governed by the state, journalistic professionalisation is weaker than in some other models and the state intervention in the media field is strong in countries like France, Italy and Spain. In the democratic corporatist model the newspaper circulation is high and oriented to mass audience, the broadcasting system has substantial autonomy, the level of journalistic professionalisation is strong and there are forms of journalistic self-regulation. In this model the state intervention is strong but there are elements that are protecting press freedom from the domination of the state. In the liberal model the newspaper circulation is substantial but not that high as in the corporatist model, the press has commercial roots, the broadcast is governed by professionals, the level of professionalisation is strong, the journalistic profession is non-institutionalised and the role of the state is weaker than in the two other models. Countries like the USA and Britain can be counted in this model.

However, the three models have not always stood up under scrutiny and cannot fully map the scene in this study, which has a wider reach geographically, and has primarily journalist startups as its focus. Firstly, the models are based on the situation back in the 1980’s thus dating the findings to pre-Internet technologies. They are also Western-orientated and don’t explain the media systems in other parts of the world – in Asia for example, as Hallin and Mancini themselves note. Moreover it is obvious that we cannot explain the features of the Japanese media world with these models, for example. As such, this study builds on this with expertise from professor Mikihito Tanaka, who has focussed on the Japanese media landscape and the journalistic startups in Japan in this report. The models are based on national media markets, national policies and traditional media usage patterns. For example McCargo (2012, 222) asks how well the three models illustrate anything in a world in which new media outlets now enjoy huge audiences and engage directly with voters and citizens. Equally, startups often do not work on conventional business models, are inherently unprofessional and are largely beyond the reach of conventional state intervention.

This report revisits some of the features of these models because they still hold relevance when discussing what has happened to media markets during recent years. Journalistic startups operate in different surroundings – the startups in the US have more room to develop after the fast decline of printed local and regional journalism, caused by the liberal market policy that US has traditionally pursued. In some European countries like Britain, France and Finland in which journalism has been understood to be more of a public asset that should in some ways be maintained partly by the state. It has also been noticed when comparing journalistic cultures across nations that they vary in aspects of (political) interventionism, objectivism and the importance of separating facts from opinion seem to play out differently around the globe (Hanitzsch et al 2011). We come back to these themes in the conclusions. Journalism has different institutional roles in different countries and this leaves journalistic pure players in a different ecological niche in terms of both content and economic operations.

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Hallin, D. & Mancini, P. (2004) Comparing media systems: Tree models of media and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hanitzsch, T. et al (2011) Mapping Journalism Cultures Across Nations. Journalism Studies, 12:3, 273-293.

McCargo, D. (2012) Partisan Polyvalence. In Hallin D. & Mancini P. (2012) Comparing media systems beyond the western world. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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