Journal Article

Journalism as a public good: A Scandinavian perspective


Ester Pollack



The democratic importance of journalism is related to public good aspects of media products, as well as news media’s positive externalities. Journalism of high quality helps ensure we are all better informed and thus benefits democracy. Lack of investigative journalism may incur large social costs. However, journalism as a public good is difficult to fund on a commercial basis. Historically, an economic solution for media companies has been advertising subsidies, plus different types of public and private support. Today, the long-time marriage between news organisations and advertisers is severely weakened, and nothing so far suggests that digital revenues alone can finance a varied, broad and original news production. In the eyes of capitalist investors, news organisations represent the past, not the future. This article discusses, on the basis of Scandinavian media experiences and recent policy reforms, the necessity of a media policy and a funding system that acknowledges quality journalism as societal knowledge production and a public good.

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About the Author

Ester Pollack

Ester Pollack, PhD, is a Professor of Journalism Studies in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. Her research combines sociological and historical perspectives on the relations between two of society’s institutions: journalism ... Read more


Pollack, E. (2017). Journalism as a public good: A Scandinavian perspective. Journalism, pp. 1-17. Available at: [Accessed 25 Jun. 2022]. doi: DOI: 10.1177/1464884917730945.