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40 per cent fewer journalists in Skåne

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In three years, the number of journalists writing for Skåne’s daily newspapers has gone down by 250. News Øresund’s evaluation shows that the editorial offices have shrunken by 40 per cent. According to the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke, the media crisis situation is dire.

“The numbers are truly upsetting. We’re seeing a trend where local journalists can’t make ends meet”, she wrote in an email to News Øresund.

The past three years have been turbulent ones for the media market in Skåne. In the autumn of 2011, there were around 620 positions for journalists at dailies in Skåne. Since then, a number of austerity packages have been introduced – some of which are still in negotiation. The result has been a 40 per cent decrease in the number of journalists, or about 250 positions. This is compounded by the closure of TV4’s local office in Skåne and an incumbent austerity package at the news agency TT.

Alice Bah Kuhnke believes that cutbacks in the local press lead to less insight into local political processes, as well as restrict residents’ possibilities to influence them. She is prepared to take political action: “We must address the media situation, which is relevant and critical. We want to make immediate adjustments in the press subsidy, but in the long term we need to re-evaluate the press subsidy in its entirety; it was formulated in the 70s, and media conditions have undergone drastic changes since then.”

Sydsvenskan, Skåne’s largest media employer, has significantly decreased its personal through mergers and cutbacks in the past three years. In 2011, there were almost 180 journalist positions at Sydsvenskan alone. Today, the newspaper is in a readjustment process that will merge the editorial offices of Sydsvenskan, Helsingborgs dagblad and City. The new editorial office will consist of just over 180 journalists. In total, the consolidated editorial capacity has decreased by almost 45 per cent.

Editor-in-chief Pia Rehnquist sees no danger of the cutbacks negatively impacting local journalism. “Our resources go into local and regional investigations. In the past, we did everything ourselves, but now we are collaborating with other, for example Dagens Nyheter for international news. We also buy material from freelance journalists”, she said to News Øresund. According to Pia Rehnquist, the merger between Sydsvenskan and Helsingborgs Dagbladet is an attempt to compensate for changes in society’s media habits. “Local journalism requires enormous resources, but people are no longer willing to pay for it. Times are tough, and I think that media in Sweden will be completely different in a few years. We are a major player and we will get through it, but on a democratic level I worry for some of the smaller papers. (News Øresund – Emilia Söelund)

Facts: Number of journalist positions at daily newspapers in Skåne

2011:

Sydsvenskan/HD (Sydsvenskan, Helsingborgs Dagblad, Kompetens i Skåne and City): 382
Metro: 2,5
Skånemedia (Ystads Allehanda, Trelleborgs Allehanda, Kristianstadsbladet): 111
Skånska Dagbladet (Skånska Dagbladet, Norra Skåne): 89
Kvällsposten: 38

Current situation + announced changes*:

Sydsvenskan/HD
(Sydsvenskan, Helsingborgs Dagblad, Kompetens i Skåne and City): 211
Metro: 0
Skånemedia (Ystads Allehanda, Trelleborgs Allehanda, Kristianstadsbladet): 82
Skånska Dagbladet (Skånska Dagbladet, Norra Skåne): 67
Kvällsposten: 14

Total
2011:
622
After presented cutbacks: 374
Difference: –248
Decrease: 40 procent

Sources: Information from 2011 was retrieved from HR departments of the respective dailies or from local professional networks in October 2013. New information was retrieved from the same sources in October 2014. *Note that Sydsvenskan/HD and Kvällsposten are currently in a readjustment process, and certain elements of the austerity package are still in negotiation. Figures may therefore be subject to change.

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