When Zetland communicates

Mikkel Jungløw Hellum & Joachim Stig Vishart Gryholm

Student thesis: Master thesis


In a time where traditional news media are facing some severe challenges, economically and legitimately, we are interested in how new upcoming news media can evolve their business in these circumstances. Through a case study of the Danish digital newspaper, Zetland, we try to answer the question: how can Zetland’s communication achieve reputation and legitimacy in a new media landscape.
In 2016 Zetland relaunch the corporate value proposition under the campaign “det nye Zetland”. The reason was for the news media company to change their news platform and product value proposition from weekly to daily news articles. The concept of their journalism is still the same slow, and thoughtful journalism. However, we propose that the challenges that the journalistic media is facing, does also affect Zetland.
We turn to Norman Fairclough and his critical discourse analysis, as it provides us with the possibility to investigate and analyze how communication and how the society is close related in a dialectical relationship. This means that because the communication affects the society and vice-versa it is possible analyze how Zetland can be seen as a news media company that drives their journalistic value from the traditional way of working with journalism and news, and yet, still be able to criticize like-minded traditional news media.
Through an analysis of the social practice that Zetland is affected we try to map the challenges that news media are facing. From this analysis, we turn to Zetland strategic communications initiatives; their corporate values, the publications “Den der råber lyver”, and their newly launch TV-commercial. Through an analysis of these communications initiatives we propose that Zetland is affected by the challenges in the social practice and that their communication affects how they can overcome these challenges. We find that Zetland communication and their orders of discourse is influences by an ideological common sense that media and journalists have the right to produce news and that the importance of journalism in society is to compose a common public in a participatory democracy. We argue that this ideological common sense might be outdated, through an analysis of consumer behavior and the technological changes, and that large technological actors have started to challenge traditional
media in terms of power and legitimacy.
With a corporate framework on how to analyze corporate communication, we propose that this ideological common sense and the power related to this reasoning, argued through the thoughts of Max Weber, might not be relevant for the recipients of Zetlands communication due to the distrust from the general society toward the media. However, we propose that the communication, analyzed through the theory of autocommunication, can drive internal legitimacy in the organization due to a common understanding of the organization’s value and corporate goals. Since the society, in general, have a distrust to traditional media we carefully conclude that Zetlands communication from a marketing perspective might not drive the customers needed, to earn profit, to their journalistic news outlet, and
Zetland’s legitimacy might be questionable.

Educations, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages97