Newsworthiness as a Governing Principle in Public Sector Communication

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Newsworthiness as a Governing Principle in Public Sector Communication


  • Maria Grafström Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • Hanna Sofia Rehnberg Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research, Stockholm University, Sweden


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Abstract:  This article examines what qualifies as news when public agencies in Sweden claim to engage in media work. We unwrap and explore what happens when ideas about “newsworthiness” enter the practice of public sector communication. What becomes news, and how? What kinds of content are favored, how are stories told, and what voices are heard? The ideas of newsworthiness in a public sector context are here conceptualized as a logic of appropriateness that governs civil servants’ media work. We base our analysis on a three-year case study of a Swedish county council’s digital news channel, VGRfokus. The analysis focuses on how ideas of newsworthiness are constructed and mirrored in and through the content of VGRfokus, as well as how they are reflected and acted upon by communications professionals working at the news channel. We suggest that ideas of newsworthiness may function as a governing principle and tone down or even hide conflicts and tensions between key values of bureaucracy and market, otherwise often manifested in public sector communication.

Keywords:  bureaucratic values; civic information; digital news channel; logic of appropriateness; market values; newsworthiness; public sector communication; media work; strategic communication; VGRfokus

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i1.4390


© Maria Grafström, Hanna Sofia Rehnberg. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.