Featured image “The First Vampire” by hannah.digiart (@HDigiart)
ARENDELLE – The Arendelle Guardian has a new owner and its editorial staff a new employer. As of midnight, the Snow Herald is dissolved, its assets recouped by Countess Vi’s estate, and its journalists now transferred to The Arendelle Guardian’s office by the dockside. The Arendelle Guardian itself has been sold to Vi, who will be keeping its editor and the rest of the present staff in their positions.
The Arendelle Guardian, in return for signing a contract of new ownership under the Countess, will have the salaries of its editorial staff increased significantly, making the profession of the newsperson an aspirational goal for ambitious writers or young graduates of The University of Arendelle.
The Snow Herald was once the primary soapbox of the Countess, and when she opposed Anna in the early months of the latter’s reign, the newspaper was relentless in its ideological attacks on the queen and her allies. At certain points it even supported outrageous positions like questioning Anna’s ability to govern, and justifying the time when Vi tried to force Anna to accept her warship, Muspelheim, as a weapon for overseas war.
While some of the Snow Herald staff have expressed discomfort at adjusting to working at a rival paper, most employees, partially out of practical considerations, haven’t been reluctant to switch editorial perspectives now that Vi is much more supportive of Anna’s goals.
Current Arendellian law states that it’s not illegal for a public figure, including the trade minister Michael or the prime minister herself, to own a private business. With the kingdom united behind Anna and a polity divided over her and King Runeard’s contrasting politics now a distant memory, there’s little opposition to Vi juggling her public service and media interests. She dismissed concerns of concentrated media ownership, admitting that the Fjord Times was the only oppositional paper to The Arendelle Guardian with an intellectually sound position.
“The Snow Herald, I’ve come to accept, was little more than a playground for my grandfather and myself,” she said in a public statement, “and after I accepted Anna’s offer to become your prime minister, the Snow Herald seemed almost obsolete. I was paying my staff to sit around and breathe the air of my offices. Perhaps it’s time they wrote for a proper paper.”
And there will indeed be plenty of work for the journalists as they cover a new era of Anna’s reign: one in which Arendelle relates to other nations and empires from a position of strength after its victory in the Russo-Arendellian War. There is the ongoing question of Northuldra’s integration with a rapidly advancing Arendelle, which commentators and observers agree will be Anna’s defining domestic legacy. The end result could be a much larger kingdom with two united but devolved territories, driven by not just the queen of Arendelle but senior tribal figures like Yelena and Honeymaren. The consequences for the domestic population and economy, as well as Arendelle’s geostrategic position in Northern Europe, will be immense.
Anna faces new and shadowy foes as well as re-emerging old enemies, like the opium tai-pan Will Harrison. But she also has burgeoning number of domestic and international allies, including Countess Vi, who are devoted to Anna’s desire that Arendelle and Elsa be forever protected. Overseas allies include already Tileke, the Ottoman commander, and the alluring figure of Jin Zhinu, Kristoff’s comprador in colonial Hong Kong. Many more are likely to emerge as Anna pursues her mysterious objective (which she hasn’t shared with the press) across the world, starting with her visit to Peking.
The dissolution of the Snow Herald may have been intended to please Queen Anna. But now that the Big Three has become just the Big Two (with one much larger than the other), it has actually strengthened Vi’s presence and influence in Arendelle’s newspapers. There are several other gazettes and magazines in circulation, but they have none of the reach and budget of the Fjord Times or The Arendelle Guardian, or tend to be special interest publications.
The Countess is now even more of a press baron than she was before. And the majority of the kingdom’s reporters now sing from her hymn sheet.