This year is the first time the conference is physical since 2019, and the expectations are high. Nordic Media Days (NMD) is known to deliver interesting sessions and a place for industry professionals to mingle, but is the conference also relevant to those of us with a heart for Nordic media and communications research?
Nordic Media Days is an annual conference at Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway. It describes itself as “the most prominent media festival in the Nordic region”. The conference started its journey in 1988 as Nordic TV Days. In 2000, they joined forces with Media2000 and created Norwegian Media Festival. And since 2004, the conference has been known as Nordic Media Days (NMD).
This year, the programme contains more than 130 speakers from home and abroad, spread over more than 60 programme items. Workshops, screenings of TV series and films, a separate media fair, and sponsor presentations are arranged. Despite the conference’s name, very few on this year’s progamme seem to be from the Nordics outside of Norway. There are obviously some names who should be mentioned, but among 130 speakers, it is far from overwhelming.
The representatives of Nordic media outside of Norway are in fact so few that they can safely be mentioned in this text without taking too much column space:
- Karin Bäckmark, podcast lead at Spotify, will speak about the boom of podcasts in the market, together with competitors from Podimo, Podme, and the Norwegian Broadcast Corporation (NRK) (Thursday, 5 May, 09:00).
- Adam Price, creator of Danish TV drama Borgen, will meet political commentator for Dagsavisen, Hege Ulstein, to talk about “how it is to write political drama in a time where reality often surpasses fiction” (Thursday, 5 May, 11:00).
- Kalle Kniivilä, Swedish-Finnish journalist and former diplomat, will talk with former Norwegian Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide, and Martin Paulsen, head of the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Bergen and expert on Russian and Ukranian language and literature (Friday, 6 May, 11:00).
There is some academic input, but it is still an industry conference
When reading the programme from the academic world, it is worth keeping in mind that NMD is an industry conference, rather than a researcher conference, which we know so well. Still, NMD has made space for some academic input, predominately from Oslo Metropolitan University and the University of Bergen – both Norwegian institutions.
On the programme of NMD2022 one can find the following sessions:
- In Breakfast meeting with the Norwegian Media Authority, director Marit Velsand presents the status of the Norwegian media landscape in dialogue with Tellef Solbakk Raabe, researcher at Centre for Applied Research at Norwegian School of Economics. (Friday, 6 May, 08:30)
- In Klasseblind, anekdotisk og engasjert: tre diagnoser på norsk journalistikk, the professors Jan Fredrik Hovden (University of Bergen), Tine Figenschou (Oslo Metropolitan University), and Steen Steensen (Oslo Metropolitan University) present findings from journalism research, from the following programme: “Who is the Norwegian journalist, and what is the anecdotal trademark of Norwegian journalism? Is audience engagement solely a good thing, and how committed is it really “legal” to be a journalist?” (Friday, 6 May, 09:00).
- Medieundersøkelsen: Bør klimaforskerne fortelle oss at det går til helvete?, with media researcher Erik Knudsen of the University of Bergen (and chair of NordMedia23) presents the survey results, before being succeded by climate researchers Kikki Flesche Kleiven (director of Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bergen) and Nils Chr. Stenseth (University of Oslo). The annual Norwegian media surveys provide insight into what journalists think about the media’s content and the influence of journalism. A vital question is what trust the audience acquires in the content of the media (Friday, 6 May, 11:00).
- In Aarebrotsamtalen: Krig i Europa og en ny verdensorden, Martin Paulsen, head of the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Bergen and expert on Russian and Ukranian language and literature, will converse with Swedish-Finnish journalist Kalle Kniivilä and former Norwegian Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide. The annual Aarebrotsamtalen is an enlightening conversation between insightful people in the spirit of legendary (at least in Norway) political scientist professor Frank Aarebrot (Friday, 6 May, 11:00).
Out of relevance for the reader, we can also mention the programme item NMD Fordypning: Hva kan AI fortelle oss om norske medier, where Martin Dahlback of the fact-checking organisation Faktisk.no will present the results of a project they completed with AI-Lab at Oslo Metropolitan University. Faktisk.no is also a participant in the NORDIS consortium, previously featured here at NordMedia Network in the article A Nordic Effort to Fight Disinformation and Information Disorder.
But what did we expect?
Surely, one can not judge the content of an industry conference as if it was an academic conference – and I won’t. But the conference’s name should be an indicator of its content: It is clearly a media conference, but the Nordic aspect doesn’t appear as prominently in the programme as one would expect from its name.
However, that is for 2022. As mentioned earlier in this text, it is the first time the conference is physical since 2019. One can admire the organisers who – just months after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in Norway – are able to put together and host a physical conference of this size. This may even be an explanation for why there are so few Nordic names on the programme. Have potential Nordic presenters been hesitant to accept their invitation, or have the organisers been playing it safe?
Next year is a new year, and if we are lucky, the 2023 programme will be even more Nordic. Maybe there will even be some researchers from outside Norway on the programme – for the sake of Nordic cooperation.
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Photos by NordMedia Network.
Edited May 6 2022: Breakfast meeting with the Norwegian Media Authority is no longer left out.