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Media & democracy launches test editorial team for new local journalism

What kind of local current affairs journalism attracts and is relevant to 25-35-year-olds? During 2018, Media & democracy at Lindholmen Science Park is leading a unique research and innovation project in Borås. “We have just had external financing of more than SEK 2 M approved,” says Program Manager Martin Holmberg.

The project – Young Persons’ news universe for local current affairs journalism and debate – has four main contributors. In addition to Media & Democracy, they are Borås Tidning, RISE Interactive and Södertörn University.

skarmavbild_2018-01-30_kl._15.16.32_0.png“This is an incredibly inspired combination of players that Media & Democracy is delighted to be able to bring together,” says Martin Holmberg.

Recruitment to the editorial team
An experimental test editorial team is already being recruited at Borås Tidning. This will comprise four employees aged 25-35 and the assignment will be – completely independent of the rest of the newspaper – to produce local current affairs journalism regarded as important and attractive to the target group in the lead-up to the general election in September. 
1) What subjects are most pressing and relevant? 
2) What narrative forms are appreciated and how can the public be mobilized? 
The content will be published digitally and will be available at bt.se.eklund_webb_2.jpg

“We live in turbulent times when it comes to the media, news presentation and information.” “I think it is an attractive prospect to be part of the test environment for this research,” says Stefan Eklund, Editor-in-Chief of Borås Tidning.

One ambition is that the test editorial team should comprise employees with and without traditional journalism training and experience.

Experimental research
RISE Interactive and Södertörn University are responsible for the project’s research activities.

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Södertörn, in particular, has a distinct journalism profile. This is largely because active local journalism is regarded as a prerequisite for democracy. Södertörn will study the project’s editorial and societal effects.

“The experimental structure is rather unusual for media research, which otherwise mostly observes from the sidelines. By monitoring the tests being conducted at Borås Tidning, we will get to know more about how new forms of local current affairs journalism can be developed and how the public reacts,” says Professor Gunnar Nygren.

magnus_eriksson.jpgRISE Interactive’s role will be to monitor the test editorial team’s way of working. The vision is to test and develop new journalistic methods and tools.

“RISE will provide design competence that comprises technology development and design. The project is attractive because it is conducting highly specific testing of the consequences of producing current affairs journalism in different ways,” says Magnus Eriksson, researcher and designer at RISE Interactive.

Financing from several parties
The budget for the project is SEK 3.5 M, of which SEK 2.1 M is being financed externally. The Cultural Committee of Region Västra Götaland is contributing SEK 1.2 M and the Carl-Olof and Jenz Hamrin Foundation SEK 950,000. The remaining financing comprises internal investments by Borås Tidning, Media & Democracy, RISE Interactive and Södertörns University.

Unesco theme
In 2019, Region Västra Götaland plans to host Unesco’s annual conference on Media and Information Literacy (MIL). One of the themes of the conference is based on the project Young Persons’ news universe for local current affairs journalism and debate.

The new knowledge generated by the project will be disseminated in many different ways. This will include reports, seminars and round-table conferences held during and after the project.