Two of Norway's local newspapers will close next week, it was announced today.
A few hours ago Norwegian media group A-pressen, who among other media assets owns 50 of the countries regional- and local newspapers, announced Moss Dagblad, a local newspaper, and Halden Dagblad, a local freesheet, will publish their last editions this month (remarkably, the Norwegian edition of Wikipedia was updated immediately for both the former and latter paper).
Moss Dagblad is the number two newspaper in Moss and has roughly 28,000 readers. The closures come in a Norwegian county, Östfold, where it was feared A-pressen's once expected acquisition of Mecom-owned Edda Media would result in closures and job losses due to media ownership regulations (For one, Edda owns the most read newspaper in Moss: Moss Avis). Now it turns out we get some the same results even without A-pressen succeeding with its efforts to scoop up Edda Media, which must be a huge disappointment.
It is also ironic that A-pressen, a media company often portrayed as more bevolent owner than Mecom, has the Labour Union (LO) and partly privatised Telenor (the Norwegian equivalent of BT) as its two majority owners. However, the executive in charge of local media in A-pressen, told Journalisten closing the 97 year old Moss Dagblad was not a result of the financial crisis but of years of losses which, despite cost cutting measures such as having its publishing days reduced to only three a week, had made the paper dependent on financial support from its owners to survive.
I'm also reminded of the CEO of Verdens Gang (VG), Torry Pedersen's, assertion that the good financial times Norway enjoyed until disaster hit the world economy has masked the structural challenges newspapers face. Norway prides itself of being one of the most newspaper reading countries in the world, but the financial crisis will be a test of how sustainable its record number of newspapers really is...