Media Innovation in a Strange Place: Newspaper Differentiation on Åland

Carl-Gustav Lindén


Differentiation is an important element in media competition and innovation as a path to finding new ways of gaining market share. Here the small but vibrant media market on the Åland islands in Finland is studied. The analysis shows that copying and imitation is an integral part of competition and it can be argued that competition leads to less, not more, differentiation, with highly substitutable goods produced for the same group of consumers Imitation is known to be a common practice in the media world. There are also signs that news agendas in the Åland newspapers do not diverge very much from each other. From a societal perspective it can be argued that competition is good for local democracy since there are at least two channels open for public debate. Local business can also gain from the fact that competition lowers prices for advertising space. In this sense a linear view of competition between media as a single explanatory framework for innovation and differentiation is not satisfactory. The study also shows that resources and processes are less important factors than organisational culture when we discuss the capability and appetite for innovating new services and products.


media innovation, media competition, media imitation

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