Between authority and media actor. The municipality as a news actor on the Internet

Signe Bock Segaard


The article illuminates how local authorities as news actors fill their websites with content. This is done through a study of how active the local authorities are as news actors on the Internet, what kinds of electronic news dissemination they do in practice, and to what degree they experience dilemmas in electronic news dissemination. The analytic point of departure is the tension between a journalistic ideal of news mediation relates to democratic values and a strategic ideal of communication related to branding. Empirically the analysis is based on data from several Danish and Norwegian municipalities which are considered as particularly active on the Internet. Finally the article discusses municipal news mediation on the Internet in the light of the municipality as a public authority as well as a market actor, a service provider, and as a democratic actor. The question is in what way municipal news dissemination on the Internet is a democratic gain. The article shows that the work with news dissemination on the Internet to some degree is characterized by professionalization, centralization, and bureaucratization. The democratic gain of municipal news dissemination is an empirical question and related to the criteria of news selection (in practice). Furthermore the article shows that some municipalities have a more strategic focus while others have a more journalistic focus but one focus does not rule out the other.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413