The study “Risk perception in newspaper chains: Threats, uncertainties and corporate boundary work” by Helle Sjøvaag and Thomas Owren from University of Stavanger interviewed chain newspaper CEOs in Scandinavia about long and short-term risks, future unknowns, decision-making within risky environments and the difference between editorial and business risks.
There were five interviewees for the study, two from Denmark, two from Norway and one from Sweden. They represented newspaper chains operating in the Scandinavian region. The interviews were semi-structured and in-depth.
Due to the open nature of the questions, it is not always possible to separate risks from threats and uncertainties in a neat manner. Nevertheless, the CEOs performed boundary maintenance actions when positioning contentious regulation, unfair competition and declining public trust in journalism as being within the journalistic field.
Mitigation of risks depended upon various factors, such as how the CEOs perceived the risks and uncertainties, how they manage the intangible assets of their brand, and to what extent their actions protect journalism as an institution. The CEOs emphasized staying financially sound as the best way to protect the institution.
The study showed that uncertainties can be tied to changes, overall, institutional or environmental. The CEOs mobilized meta-discourses around corporate, organizational and financial survival while addressing future uncertainties.
The authors acknowledge some limitations of the study. First, the sample, while representative, is still small. The study is also limited in the context of time, e.g. there is no longitudinal aspect to it. Obviously, the scope is also limited to Norway, Denmark and Sweden and the results should be seen in this light.
The article “Risk perception in newspaper chains: Threats, uncertainties and corporate boundary work” by Helle Sjøvaag and Thomas Owren is in Journalism. (free access).
Picture: Untitled by @jontyson.