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Journalists vote for journalists – but media don’t tell you

Can journalists become too powerful? Yes of course. We often say that along with our peers, media is the most important source for citizens to shape an opinion of the state of our society. But media concentration, conglomeration, consolidation and corporatism puts the power of media into a declining number of hands. So when DSM for the 30th time announces Sweden’s 100 most influential opinion leaders, there is reason to reflect why the list looks like it does.

DSM (Debatt Sanningssökande Mediakritik) surveys every year what individuals are most influential in the debate in Sweden. The questionnaire is sent to 300 journalists, which ones is not disclosed. They are to select 12 individuals they think most shape opinion in Sweden. Not surprisingly, they vote for other journalists. On this year’s top 100 list, 17 of the top 30 are journalists (in bold below). Then the list is being sent to media where other journalists write about how influential they are (more than 40 articles today about the list). See a pattern?

Media then present this without disclosing that journalists are the only source. PJ Anders Linder of Svenska Dagbladet for example writes on his blog “[The list] is established by opinion leaders who vote for each other…” Not exactly true is it? The text would have a whole different ring to it if it stated that “journalists vote for each other”, right? On another place in Svenska Dagbladet the list is presented as being voted by “300 people who’s profession is to follow the debate in society”. TT falls in the same trap. How absurd. It is called journalists, and I think your readers deserve to know.

Why is this a problem? Well, if anything, it serves to uphold the view of media as the key influencer in society and that itself is a problem. Politicians can be voted out of office, but with few alternatives on a highly concentrated media market, it is harder to “get rid of” media influencers that we disagree with or for one or the other reason would like to see stripped off their power. This list should be considered a journalist lobbying campaign, nothing else. And second, who voted is not disclosed. Was it 150 journalists with a certain agenda? Was it more journalists from established media that responded, and then voted on themselves? We don’t know.

1. PERSON, Göran
2. REINFELDT, Fredrik
3. JOSEFSSON, Janne
4. BERGSTRAND, Mats
5. GUILLOU, Jan
6. MELLIN, Lena

7. OLOFSSON, Maud
8. WOLODARSKI, Peter
9. LUNDGREN, Nils
10. SCHYMAN, Gudrun
11. EKDAL, Niklas
12. GREIDER, Göran
13. ADAKTUSSON, Lars

14. CARL XVI GUSTAF
15. NUDER, Pär
16. BERGSTRÖM, KG
17. ISAKSSON, Anders
18. OHLSSON, Per T

19. BODSTRÖM, Thomas
20. WALLSTRÖM, Margot
21. LEIJONBORG, Lars
22. BLIX, Hans
23. KLEIN, Helle
24. LINDER, Anders PJ
25. GRÖNING, Lotta
26. HEDVALL, Barbro

27. NORBERG, Johan
28. WETTERSTRAND, Maria
29. ABRAHAMSSON, Maria
30. MARKLUND, Liza

Tidningen Ångermanland don’t buy the propaganda. Well done. SVT notes that journalists are the source. And journalist Dan Josefsson wrote about this in ETC already in 1998.

Footnote: 3 of the top 30 are also bloggers, see links.

Update: #29 is also a journalist, I missed that one. Thanks Johan.
Update 2: It was Dan Josefsson, not Janne, who wrote the article in ETC. Thanks Bengt.

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