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The Future of National News Agencies in Europe

This project seeks to suggest alternative futures for national news institutions by collecting and combining data and analysis from and for industry, policy-makers, and journalists working with and within European news agencies.

New - Reports are now available under 'Publications'

News Agencies in Crisis? News Agencies in Crisis?

Project overview

The current political climate, characterized by increasing populism, resurgent nationalism, growing political polarization, and the digitally facilitated spread of misinformation, calls for the wide availability of trustworthy news. But what kind of news do publics need? And who should have the responsibility for producing and providing it?

National news media, including news agencies, have traditionally been seen as producers of the most reliable news within nation-states. However, there has been a significant increase in the number of informal news sources in today’s digital media landscape, an increase which has challenged the traditional role of institutionally-produced, fact-based news in democratic decision-making.

Under current conditions of shifting market forces and declining trust in institutional media, many news organizations are being forced to develop new strategies and business models to ensure the continued production and dissemination of reliable and verified news.

Because of their extensive embeddedness within national media systems, as well as their significant engagement with key stakeholders, news agencies offer a fruitful but neglected focus for a comprehensive and comparative study aiming to understand these structural changes in the contemporary media environment. 

Research Questions

  • How, and to what extent, does the rapidly changing contemporary news ecosystem challenge the viability of the concept of a national news agency in Europe?
  • How have the ownership forms of national news agencies changed?
  • How do national news agencies assess the value of their general news service?
  • How do national news agencies perceive their clients?

Research Design

The project analyses the historical context, institutional environment, and economic strategies of national news agencies in Europe in order to understand how they compete with other news suppliers and publishers in a digital media landscape.

The project makes use of multidisciplinary research approaches and features three main data gathering phases: a survey, a series of elite interviews, and a set of case studies.

By combining approaches and methodologies from across disciplines, the project will produce new knowledge and innovative concepts to respond to the rapidly emerging changes and challenges affecting today’s news organizations.

Survey

A survey questionnaire focusing on an array of topics, including ownership models, diversification practices, and future plans was circulated to the CEOs of EANA member agencies. This served as a pilot phase for the project. Select preliminary findings were shared at the recent EANA spring conference in Bucharest in April 2018. Industry feedback on these findings will be used to help shape the design of future phases of the project.

Elite Interviews

A series of interviews were conducted with the CEOs of participating EANA member agencies. These interviews permitted a rich, qualitative engagement with some of the issues covered in the survey phase. A set of interview questions were developed from survey responses, and these were further refined based on consultation with industry leaders.

Case studies

A further phase of the project entails a set of four thematic case studies exploring distinct but interrelated topics pertaining to the sustainability of national news agencies in the contemporary media environment. Four research teams based in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Oxford, and Vienna each conducted an individual case study, and each team worked with a number of national news agencies from across Europe.

Case Study 1

The impact of changing media systems on the business and innovation policy of the European international news agencies AFP, dpa and EFE

Dr Wolfgang Vyslozil, Lecturer, Universities of Vienna and Salzburg on Strategic Media Management and former CEO of APA

Ms Jasmin Surm, PhD Researcher, University of Vienna 

Case Study 2

The survival challenges for news agencies in a small market: News agencies in the Baltic countries

Dr Epp Lauk, Professor of Journalism at the Department of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä

Ms Maret Einmann, Research Assistant 

Case Study 3

The changing relation between news agencies and the state

Ms Laura Juntunen, PhD Researcher, University of Helsinki

Dr Hannu Nieminen, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor of Media and Communications Policy, University of Helsinki, and Visiting Fellow at LSE

Case Study 4

Business model innovation in media-owned national news agencies

Mr Atte Jääskeläinen, Professor of Practice, Lappeenranta University of Technology, and Visiting Fellow at LSE

Dr Servet Yanatma, Independent Researcher and Journalist

People

LSE People

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Prof Terhi Rantanen
Academic Director

Prof. Terhi Rantanen (MSc, LicSc, DocSc, Docent, Helsinki University) is Professor in Global Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Before joining the LSE, she held a full-time position as a senior academic in the Department of Communication at Helsinki University and was visiting scholar and professor at several universities around the world including Harvard University, Moscow University, Stockholm University, and University of Southern California. Prof. Rantanen’s research areas include global news media organizations. She has published extensively on media globalization and global news transmissions. She has directed a double degree MSc in Global Media and Communications at LSE with the University of Southern California since its foundation in 2000. Prof. Rantanen is also a founding editor of Global Media and Communication.

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Atte Jääskeläinen                           
Project Co-Director

LSE Visiting Fellow Atte Jääskeläinen is Professor of Practice at LUT University, Finland, focusing on media management and digital transformation. He’s also Senior advisor at Fourkind Oy, a consultancy on AI solutions and other emergent technologies where he’s, among others, working on a research project on possibilities to apply AI-based predictive analytics to augment editorial decision-making in newsrooms.

Mr Jääskeläinen was CEO and editor-in-chief of the Finnish News agency STT 2004-2006 and Director of News and Current Affairs of the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle 2007-2017. In his earlier career he worked for the leading Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, as business editor and later as politics editor, among others. 

During academic year 2017-2018 Mr Jääskeläinen was Visiting Fellow at Reuters Institute, University of Oxford. Mr Jääskeläinen co-authored European Broadcasting Union's News Report 2018, '50 ways to make it better', on solutions for challenges of declining trust and weakening engagement with the audience, published in November 2018.

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Anthony Kelly                                 
Research Officer

Anthony Kelly is a PhD researcher in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research interests and expertise include online partisan media, commercialisation of news, and participatory political communication. Anthony holds a BA International in French and Anthropology and a European Joint Masters in Cultural Differences and Transnational Processes. Prior to commencing his PhD, Anthony served as a lecturer in Maynooth University’s Department of Anthropology, where he taught modules on topics including political media, digital anthropology, and globalisation. Anthony’s role on the project focuses on broadening knowledge exchange and impact and is funded by LSE KEI.

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Ram Bhat
Research Assistant

Ram is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is currently researching relations between internet infrastructure and governmentality in India for his doctoral thesis, and has further research interests in media and communications (for) development. Ram holds an MSc in Media and Communication for Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the co-founder of Maraa, a media and arts collective in India and is the President of Asia Pacific Chapter, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

Richard Stupart

Richard Stupart
Research Assistant

Richard is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is currently researching the ethics and practice of journalistic witnessing in conflict reporting in South Sudan for his doctoral thesis. and has further research interests in the intersection between media narratives and development assistance, as well as ethical and methodological issues in data gathering in conflict contexts. Richard holds an MA in Media Studies from Rhodes University and an MPP from Universität Erfurt.

Case Study Researchers

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Maret Einmann
Case Study Research Assistant

Maret Einmann holds an MA from the Institute of Communication at the University of Tartu. Her research interests and expertise include: journalism, role perceptions and professionalisation of journalists, and communication studies.

Laura Juntunen

Laura Juntunen
Case Study Research Assistant

Laura Juntunen is a PhD student in communication studies at the University of Helsinki. She holds a master’s degree in Social Sciences. Her research interests include journalism ethics and media self-regulation, journalistic practices and news journalism in general. She is also a former journalist and has worked for the Finnish news agency in the past.

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Prof Epp Lauk
Case Study Principal Investigator

Epp Lauk, Ph.D., is Professor of Journalism at the Department of Language and Communication Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research and numerous publications include journalism cultures and history, media and journalism in Central and East European countries, media policy, media self-regulation, and digital and social media. In 2012-2016 she served as a Board member of European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), in 2011-2015 as Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of the global research project on journalism cultures The Worlds of Journalism Study. She has worked as Guest Professor and Visiting Professor in several universities and as Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford (MDCEE project). She is member of editorial boards of several academic journals, including Central European Journal of Communication and NORDICOM Review.

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Prof Hannu Nieminen
Case Study Principal Investigator

Hannu Nieminen is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor of Media and Communications Policy, University of Helsinki. He received his Ph.D. in 1996 in the University of Westminster, London. He has published widely on issues related to media and democracy, theories of public sphere, and communication policy and regulation. From 2010 to 2017 he served as a member of the Governing Board of NORDICOM (Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research). Since 2012 he is an Expert in Public Service for the Administrative Council of YLE, Finland's national public service broadcasting company.

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Jasmin Surm
Case Study Research Assistant

Jasmin Surm is a PhD student at the Department of Journalism and Communication Science at the University of Vienna. She holds a master's degree in Communication Science conducting research on international news agencies for her doctoral dissertation. Her broader academic background are the humanities; she is doing a master’s degree in Comparative Literature and a bachelor’s degree in Romance Philology. Besides German, she is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese and has an advanced knowledge of Italian, French and Catalan. Her research interests include news agencies, international news journalism, the media landscape of the Iberian Peninsula and foreign languages.

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Dr Wolfgang Vyslozil
Case Study Principal Investigator

Wolfgang Vyslozil has worked for 35 years in leading management positions in the Austrian media, for 26 years of which he was CEO of Austria Press Agency (APA). He was responsible for the transformation of APA between 1982 and 2008 from a traditional news agency into a highly diversified, IT-based information agency. Before joining APA, he was first a Management Assistant and later Deputy Managing Director of Die Presse, one of the leading Austrian quality newspapers.

He was twice elected President of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA), has been Chair of the Supervisory Board of the European Press Photo Agency (epa), was Chair of Group 39, the European Association of Independent National News Agencies, and Chair of the International Press Institute (IPI) Expert Committee on News Agencies. He was made an IPI Lifetime Fellow and named as Austrian Media Manager of the Year (2007). He retired at the end of 2008.

Dr Vyslozil holds a Doctorate (Dr. Phil.) in Communication Science from the University of Salzburg. He has published on the history of Group 39 and on the strategy and economic development of independent news agencies. He currently lectures on Strategic Media Management at the Universities of Vienna and Salzburg and leads research seminars on historical and future developments of news agencies at the University of Vienna.

yanatma

Dr Servet Yanatma
Case Study Research Assistant

Dr Servet Yanatma is an independent researcher and freelance journalist, and currently a visiting fellow at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at University of Oxford. He holds a BA and MA in history from the Bogazici University. In 2015, he completed his PhD program in Middle East Technical University with the title of “The International News Agencies in the Ottoman Empire, 1854-1908.” His research interests are news agencies, political economy of media, media ownership, online media, public diplomacy, media and politics in the late Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.

Advisory

Erik Nylen

Erik Nylén
Project Advisor

Erik Nylen is Secretary General of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA). He is the former CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Swedish news agency TT and has extensive experience as a reporter, news editor and project manager in Swedish media.

Funding & Support

This project was designed and conducted in collaboration with the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA). We received funding from the following sources:

  • LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund
  • Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland
  • Jyllands-Posten Foundation
  • University of Helsinki
  • LSE Department of Media and Communications

Events

Dialogue: Platform Business Models

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Speakers: Mr Clive Marshall, Mr Alan Marshall, Dr Carsten Sørensen, Dr Maria Åkesson, Prof Terhi Rantanen (Chair)

Discussion of platform business models and their relevance to news agencies co-hosted by LSE and the Press Association at PA offices. Featuring: Mr Clive Marshall, CEO of PA Group; Mr Alan Marshall, Group Managing Editor at PA; Dr Maria Åkesson, Senior Lecturer, School of Information Science, Computer and Electrical Engineering, Halmstad University; and LSE academic Dr Carsten Sørensen, Associate Professor of Information Systems and Innovation, Department of Management.

Executive Knowledge Exchange Workshops

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Speakers: Mr Martijn Bennis, Ms Branka Djukic, Mr Alex Giboi, Mr Atte Jääskeläinen, Prof Epp Lauk, Prof Hannu Nieminen, Mr Erik Nylén, Ms Rosario Pons, Prof Terhi Rantanen, Dr Wolfgang Vyslozil

An afternoon of knowledge exchange workshops for news agency executives and academics, each themed according to one of the four project case studies. Workshops feature an industry respondent and are led the Principal Investigator for the respective case study.

Who Owns The News? – Public Launch Event: The Future of National News Agencies in Europe

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Speakers: Ms Christine Buhagiar, Mr Madhav Chinnappa, Prof Terhi Rantanen, Prof Henrik Örnebring, Prof Sarah Banet-Weiser (Chair)

Public launch event for the final report of the project featuring invited industry speakers and academics A series of short presentations on news industry ownership models and the crisis of financing in journalism will be followed by a Q&A session.

Publications

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The future of national news agencies in Europe: Executive summary

Terhi Rantanen, Atte Jääskeläinen, Ramnath Bhat, Richard Stupart, Anthony Kelly (LSE, 2019)

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Case study 1 – The impact of globally changing media systems on the business and innovation policy of the European international news agencies AFP, dpa and EFE

Wolfgang Vyslozil, Jasmin Surm (LSE, 2019)

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Case study 2 – The survival challenges for news agencies in a small market: News agencies in the Baltic countries

Epp Lauk, Maret Einmann (LSE, 2019)

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Case study 3 – The changing relation between news agencies and the state

Laura Juntunen, Hannu Nieminen (LSE, 2019)

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Case study 4 – Business model innovation in media-owned national news agencies

Atte Jääskeläinen, Servet Yanatma (LSE, 2019)

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The future of national news agencies in Europe: Data & visualisations

Terhi Rantanen, Atte Jääskeläinen, Ramnath Bhat, Richard Stupart, Anthony Kelly (LSE, 2019)

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Media