Research plan

Roadmap to Freedom: How the news media can be freed from the power of Silicon Valley

The aim of this research project is to find out in which ways the Finnish news media is dependent on the technology giants of Silicon Valley, mainly Facebook, Alphabet (Google, Youtube, Android), Apple and Twitter. The study examines whether the dependence is excessive and, if so, how the news media could break free from the excessive influence of technology giants. The project examines the dependency relationships between global technology giants and news media corporations through four frameworks: a technological framework, a business framework, an operational framework and a narrative framework. The study will produce research of high standard and its aim is to develop a concrete survival plan for news media, “Roadmap to Freedom”.

The impact of Silicon Valley’s global actors on the news media has generally been studied through a negative framework from the perspective of how media has lost its relationship to audiences and advertisers. However, we think that the issue is more complex than that and contains positive features also, such as learning a new type of operational logic, which particularly affects product development methods. In addition to that, Google and Facebook have financially supported the innovation process within media with significant amounts. However, compared to their own revenues, the investments are minimal.

We believe that the road to freedom requires new ways of thinking from the news media corporations, support from advertisers as well as national and supranational (mainly EU) legislative solutions. In the project, we will also look in another direction, to China, where media giants as Tencent and Alibaba as well as newcomers as Tiktok have started to conquer the world. The aim is to predict what this development could mean for the Finnish news media.

The project manager Carl-Gustav Lindén has studied Silicon Valley’s business models for a long time. In December 2020 he published a book “Silicon Valley och makten över medierna” (Nordicom, 2020) that provides the base for this project. In the book, Lindén goes through how and why the media is dependent on Silicon Valley’s technology corporations and where this has led. In the last chapter, Lindén reflects on how this dependency can be reduced.

The goal of this project is to produce information and knowledge which will help experts understand the scope of Silicon Valley’s technology corporations’ power. In our view these corporations offer solutions to the core of media infrastructure that are hard to get away from. The issue does not only revolve around the media but also around the society at a broader level, as these corporations as Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon strive to build infrastructure for the whole society of which the media is only a small part of.

The study is divided into four work packages, the results of which form a coherent whole in the final report. In the report, we will define three different scenarios for the year 2030. The scenarios describe the different ways in which the news media’s dependence on technology companies of Silicon Valley can change and the different consequences this may have. The Road to Freedom -research plan builds on qualitative and quantitative research. The material includes mapping out the research field, statistical analysis, canvassing working and interactive workshops.