Swedish media’s integrity at risk

The independence and integrity of the Swedish media is at risk, thanks to an outdated regulatory system and the unwillingness of media organisations to submit themselves to scrutiny, a new report argues.

The report, from think-tank SNS, says that Sweden’s media “has power without responsibility and responsibility without power”. There is no effective definition of who is responsible for decisions on ethical questions, it argues.

Regulatory organisations are characterised as weak, and lacking effective sanctions to deal with those that break the rules.

Hard competition between media in Sweden has put journalists and media organisations under pressure, the report’s authors say. The rules that govern the media’s conduct are out of date, having failed to keep up with globalisation, and technical innovations such as the internet.

The study makes a range of suggestions for how the media can improve its standing. It is argued that the way newspapers and broadcasters work is too secretive, and needs to be opened up for public scrutiny. Another conclusion is that journalists should “sharpen their professional ethics code.”

The report also touches on the role of special interest groups in the Swedish media. It points out that such groups try to influence media coverage, and argues that “there should be respect for free and independent journalism.”

The media’s integrity needs to be protected from “pressure from outside forces of a commercial, political and populistic nature,” it says.

The authors say that the role of the media has a “direct connection to the debate about the future of democracy.”