Abstract: The Nordic countries have been regarded as so-called “media welfare states.” Despite the large amount of public money used on press subsidies over the decades in the Nordic countries, there is not much academic research on the financial performance of the newspaper publishing industry in these countries. This study examines the “media welfare state” approach to public support for newspapers and the financial performance of newspaper companies in three Nordic countries: Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Our data consists of the key financial figures of newspaper publishing companies in the aforementioned countries from 2005 to 2019. Based on our analysis, we argue that direct press subsidies in Sweden and Norway have not been able to prevent a decrease in the number of titles and, importantly, have resulted in a number of subsidy-dependent news outlets unable to survive on their own income. By contrast, the Finnish newspaper publishing industry has been in a better financial situation in terms of almost all indicators and throughout the review period, despite Finland abandoning direct press subsidies in the 1990s.
Keywords: business performance; Finland; media support; media welfare state; newspapers; Norway; press subsidies; Sweden