NEWS | 31 Jan 2019

New Nordicom Review article about the Icelandic hybrid media system

A new Nordicom Review article is published (online first), titled Logics of the Icelandic Hybrid Media System. Snapchat and media-use before the 2016 and 2017 Althing elections. The author Birgir Guðmundsson answers a few questions about the findings. 

Could you describe, in short, what your article is about?
In this article I am looking at some characteristics of the relations between politics and the media in Iceland. In particular I examine how and to what extent political communication is based on traditional media logic or the logic of mass media on the one hand, and how important network media logic or social media platforms are on the other hand. The interaction and hybridisation of these media logics is important for fuller understanding of politics and media, e.g. the types of politicians and campaigns we get as well as which political issues are likely to become important.  The data I use are results from questions in candidate surveys from the 2016 and 2017 parliamentary elections on the media –use of politicians and the importance they place on different platforms.  In approaching the subject I pay special attention to the latest social platform, Snapchat, and its interaction with other media, old and new, in order to highlight the dynamics of the system as a whole.  Political communication has not been much researched in Iceland and this article is a modest attempt to change that.

What role has Snapchat played before the 2016 and 17 elections in Iceland and how does the use of new media compare to the use of old, traditional media?
Since the municipal elections of 2014 there has been public discussion of political apathy among young people, the millennials, as so many of them abstain from voting. Snapchat is a platform that is particularly popular with this group, so one would expect that politicians would use Snapchat to target the youth vote. Indeed, the results show that in spite of its relatively recent arrival on the market Snapchat was used in these campaigns to a comparable degree as other social media except Facebook, which was a category of its own. Facebook is almost universally used by politicians or 95% and practically everyone or 94% believes it to be important.  Traditional media is also considered very important although there is a great variance in the use of different platforms. Broadcast media is e.g. considered very important but not used that much while platforms with a lower entry threshold, such as internet based news media and local media are used a lot and considered important.  In general, traditional media is considered more important than new media (except Facebook) although it is really the interaction or combination of different platforms that stands out.

A closer analysis of the results show that age is a determining factor for the type of media platforms used by politicians, the younger ones using new media more than the older ones.   This is very clear for the users of Snapchat and indeed for the use of all new media as young politicians are significantly more likely to use new media than older ones. Although all candidates use both new and old media considerably, a bivariate correlations of the use of different media platforms reveals two groups of users, a group who uses new media a lot and a group that primarily uses traditional media.    So it seems that the existing balance between different media logics is characterized by hybridity but still a certain dominance of traditional media. That balance might though change as younger politicians move more centre stage.

What would you say are the most important findings in your article?
Several things could be mentioned, but I will name just two. Firstly, the article draws up for the first time an empirical map of the Icelandic hybrid media system and the interaction of different media logics in political communication. That in itself is important as it connects Iceland to international scholarly discussion of relations between politics and media.  Another important finding relates to the saliency of traditional media. Even though the impact of new media is massive, traditional media still seems to dominate. This might however be changing with new generations of politicians.  Even already, it might be suggested that the considerable influence of social media and network logic is felt in many of the political issues that virality has brought to the top of the political agenda in recent years.

The author Birgir Gudmundsson


Read the article Logics of the Icelandic Hybrid Media System. Snapchat and media-use before the 2016 and 2017 Althing elections

Read more about the journal Nordicom Review


Image: The author Birgir Gudmundsson





Publish with Nordicom Review: The editorial team of Nordicom Review cordially invites scholars interested in advancing the media and communications sciences in the Nordic region to engage with the journal as authors, book reviewers or guest editors of thematic special issues. Read more about the journal and what we offer.