Schibsted, Bonnier executives share sustainability strategies amidst digital transformation

By Rashi Mishra

City, University of London

London, United Kingdom


During INMA’s 2024 World Congress of News Media in London last week, industry leaders addressed the digitisation of the media industry in Scandinavian countries and the issues that could arise from the end of such digital transformation. 

Siv Juvik Tveitnes, chief executive officer at Norway’s Schibsted News, told conference attendees the Scandinavian media industry is digital-focused and explained how far it has come in terms of digitising business models: “Maybe Scandinavia will be the first [group of] countries that actually become pure digital media companies. Our printed paper will go away first. What will happen then, we don’t know.” 

Tveitnes raised concerns about how the countries should position themselves, continue building audiences in a purely digital environment, and work with their brands’ marketing. “So, how will the end of our digital transformation be? That is a challenge that we really need to understand,” she noted. 

She added that moving forward, it is also important to finance journalism, consider the effect of Artificial Intelligence, recruit younger generations, and stay relevant for future generations. 

Siv Juvik Tveitnes of Schibsted and Anders Eriksson of Bonnier shared how news media companies can thrive in the new digital environment.
Siv Juvik Tveitnes of Schibsted and Anders Eriksson of Bonnier shared how news media companies can thrive in the new digital environment.

Staying relevant with changing formats

Anders Eriksson, chief executive officer at Sweden’s Bonnier News, emphasised the need to stay relevant: “That is the key challenge. To keep a direct relationship with the audience, especially the younger audience, we have to keep the formats that are attractive and engaging.” 

He added that audio is the key format for engaging younger audiences and is also suitable for Bonnier’s content and brand. 

Emphasising how the format is an important factor in attracting younger audiences to their news readership, Tveitnes said: “We come from newspaper legacy; we are best in the world to write long texts, take still photos. When we see the younger generation, they want more audio and video, so we really need to invest in these formats.”

Shaping the future of news coverage

Unlike any other region in the world, the Scandinavian news media has not only reshaped but continues to influence the news media of the future. It is at the forefront of digital transformation, globalisation, and innovation for its digital brands.

Scandinavian brands were pioneers in introducing subscription models and diversifying revenue streams, and now they are successfully experimenting with generative AI — while maintaining their commitment to journalistic integrity and quality. 

According to a recent Reuters news report, Norway and Sweden are the top two countries with the highest populations that pay for online news, at 39% and 33%, respectively. 

Tveitnes credited those numbers to several factors:

  • A high trust their societies have both in the country and in the news.
  • Equality among its residents.
  • A well-developed welfare system that also leads to trust in the news.
  • Being wealthy countries where most people can afford to pay for the news.

In the 1990s, the government invested in Internet infrastructure, driving digital development in Sweden and Norway, Eriksson said. According to Tveitnes, the early adoption of smartphones also brought digital maturity to the region. 

“We also have a subscription tradition when it comes to news, which is different to some other countries,” Eriksson said. “Though behind Finland and Denmark in terms of trust, approaching younger readers, trust is not an issue, it's more about the format and distribution, users experience and the product.” 

Tveitnes said the biggest challenge in the industry and in Scandinavian countries in general is how to reach out to younger generations. However, clear strategies, using platforms that attract younger people, and building on different platforms can get them to brands’ news sites, she said:

“The news media in these countries have a very high position and reach. Most people go to our news sites directly and not through social media; in a global comparison, that is very unique to the Scandinavian countries.” 

The value of collaboration 

Swedish management culture “is consensus-oriented, non-hierarchical, approached management,” Eriksson said. He said a cross-functional approach empowers people, which in turn supports innovation: “We live quite integrated through collaboration.” 

In fact, an integrated strategy and cross-functional approach are the only ways to get things done; while organisations used to be more silo-oriented, the use of metrics shows the value of such an approach.

Bundling also plays a role in successfully reaching audiences, and Bonnier’s bundling includes national news, local newspapers, magazines and feature content drawn from several hundred titles, as well as a digital bundle option. Launched more than a year ago, the bundle has 75,000 subscriptions, with one-third signed up for the digital bundle.

“The idea is to bring more value [by] trying to reach households which will become active users of our content and journalism, then optimise that and deliver more value, more journalism, more content to our users. The target is more on households than individuals, to bring more value,” Eriksson said. 

Tveitnes agreed with that approach, adding, “Bundling is really about the user’s needs, [and is] a good way to create more engagement and increase loyalty.”

About Rashi Mishra

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