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"Committed participants who are passionate about democracy"

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The project Strengthened local journalism in crisis situations is underway at newsrooms in Blekinge and Värmland. Linus Carle, editor-in-chief at Arvika news, shares what their collaboration with Lottakåren looks like, and what is planned going forward.

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Strengthened local journalism in crisis situations In local test environments with sparse editorial staffing, test whether, and if so how, cooperation between local news media and the Swedish Lottery can strengthen the information and communication link and thereby create better conditions for the local media to quickly obtain verified information in crisis situations .

Which towns in Värmland are involved in the project?

- It is Arvika and Eda municipality. Unlike in Blekinge, Lottakåren does not have a strong organization in Västvärmland from before, so they are building it up now. From the beginning, they looked for participants widely throughout Värmland, so we also have lotteries in other places. We try to use the participants who are not in our coverage area in other ways, they can be helpful by providing input on our journalism, for example. We try to have meetings with the lottery participants once a month, where they will act a bit like a reader's panel and provide input on our journalism.

How exiting! What have you exchanged with each other at those meetings so far?

- There has been a lot of focus on us getting to know each other. But we've had a meeting so far where we went over what they thought of our journalism and if they had any suggestions for things or topics we should cover. It was actually very interesting. There are very committed participants who are really passionate about democracy, so it is interesting to discuss democracy issues and local journalism with them. It is very valuable for us as a local newspaper to discuss our content with readers.

Do you have an example of what you were talking about? Anything in particular that surprised you?

- It was very broad. One participant emphasized the importance of also reporting on all the positive things that happen in a local community, especially now in times of war and fake news. We also had discussions about how to reach a younger audience, something we often talk about in the newsroom. It was interesting that it was something they also thought about, it is also a matter of democracy that you have to reach the younger people and let them have their say.

What else have you done since the project started, and what are you planning in the future?

- We are still in the start-up phase, there are many frameworks to be set. We have had information meetings with the Lottakåren and also a couple of webinars for both editorial staff and the Lottakåren. Much is about getting an understanding from both sides, both for the local newspapers about how the Lottakåren works and how we can get help from them when there is a crisis, but also for the Lottakåren to get a better understanding of how the local newspapers work.


The University of Gothenburg, which follows the project, has also started their first interviews, they are interviewing both editorial staff and the lottery team.

- Going forward, we will build some kind of scenario where we set up a made-up crisis situation so that we can see in a sharp situation how this collaboration can work. How can we benefit from each other when something actually happens? Until we get to such an exercise, we think it's good to have this continuous contact with each other where the lotteries can act a bit like a reader's panel for us, and where we discuss these issues continuously.

What do you hope to get out of this project?

- To increase democratic preparedness so that, when there is a crisis situation, we have strong journalism that provides accurate and correct information. We will see exactly in what forms during the course of the project.

How important is it for local media to have good local knowledge?

- It's a and o's. And we have that today, but we monitor rather large geographical areas. If something happens in an area we cannot get to physically, it is very important that we have a wide network of contacts so that we can obtain information. There, a contact network like this with the Lottery Authority could mean a lot.


ABC on Strengthened local journalism in crisis situations

Project parties: Blekinge Läns Tidning, Göteborgs universitet, NWT Media, Svenska Lottakåren och Medier & demokrati.


Project period: 1 September 2022 - 30 June 2024.

External co-financier: Myndigheten för psykologiskt försvar.