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Projects (New Media)

Disruptive Change and New Media Policies: A Field Approach

Schedule: December 2016-December 2019
Employer: Forskningsrådet

Project Objectives

The primary objective of the project is to provide in-depth knowledge about of i) the media policy field ii) the media industry field, and iii) individual news consumption.

The secondary objective is to analyze the implications of these changes for fulfilling media policy goals of an open and enlightened public discourse, and a corresponding enlightened understanding among the public. 

Project Approach

The project combines a longitudinal perspective on media consumption and media policy development, with contemporary institutional field studies focusing on the interplay between key actors.

This combined approach enables us to consider the effect of media policy in detail, as it has occurred both on the field level and the individual level, and to provide historically embedded knowledge that can shed light on contemporary challenges.

Field analyses of the Norwegian media industry taken in the broad sense, including new, emerging actors, such as digital intermediaries, as well as established key players will allow us to analyze the impact of digitalization in relation to external and internal diversity, as well as quality.

This is combined with the analysis of a unique and complex data set on individual news consumption that includes information on sources/platforms used as well as content, and how this has developed in different user groups over the past two decades, i.e. the development in exposure diversity at the individual level.

Finally we make use of a large, comparative data set that enables the study of the development of political knowledge within different national media systems over time to probe the link between source diversity in a given system and an enlightened, politically knowledgeable population.

Project Relevance

Ultimately, our design allows us both to provide most-needed empirical descriptions of current developments in media systems linked to digitalization and globalization, and to ask fundamental questions about the potential space for public media policies in an era of exponential increase in news offers, and in a situation where the policy field has been opened up to a range of new actors.

Further information:

Researchers: Rune Karlsen, Kari Steen-Johnsen, Bernard Enjolras, Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud, Vilde Sundet, Karoline Ihlebæk

Literature review of research on hate speech

Schedule: May 2016-September 2016
Employer: Barne-, ungdoms og familiedirektoratet (Bufdir)


The project has resulted in three reports:

Report 1

The first report gathers, summarises and evaluates research on:

  • The prevalence of hate speech online and developments over time
  • What groups are targets of hate speech
  • Who produces hate speech and what drives them
Report 2

Report 2 gathers, summarises and evaluates research on:

  • The relationship between hate speech and discrimination, bullying and violence
  • Research on the consequences of hate speech for the victims and for society
Report 3

The third report addresses:

  • How hate speech is defined and regulated in international and national law and in relevant court practice
  • Research on the relationship between freedom of speech and the protection from hate speech 
Researchers: Marjan Nadim, Audun Fladmoe, Jon Wessel-Aas, Helga Eggebø, Elisabeth Stubberud

Hate speech and hate crime on the Internet

Schedule: February 2016-November 2016
Employer: Justis -og beredskapsdepartementet


The project consists of three parts:

  1. Contributing to knowledge about the prevalence of hate speech online. This was achieved through an international literature review and new analyses of data from several relevant surveys conducted by ISF. 
  2. A legal discussion about the relationship between freedom of speech and the protection from hate speech.
  3. A small case study of the police’s work against hate speech online.
Researchers: Marjan Nadim, Audun Fladmoe, Jon Wessel-Aas

The state of freedom of speech in Norway 2015-2017

Schedule: April 2015-may 2017
Employer: Fritt Ord



Project Background

This study is a continuation of a broader project called The state of freedom of speech in Norway – the Freedom of expression foundation’s monitor project, which was carried out by Institute for Social Research (ISF), in cooperation with IMK, FAFO, TNS Gallup and lawyer Jon Wessel-Aas, in 2013-2014.

In the first round of the project, we addressed the issue of freedom of speech from a variety of perspectives, focusing on the preconditions of freedom of speech, freedom of speech in light of multiculturalism, digitalization and shifting media structures, security, control and surveillance and the terms of freedom of speech in the labour market. In this second round of the project we will explore more in depth the dynamics of public debate, focusing on the key actors in defining public discussions and well as on the normative processes regulating which opinions and ‘voices’ are expressed in the public and which are silenced.

Project Approach

The project has three parts: First, we will investigate whether Norwegian journalists and the general Norwegian public’s attitudes toward freedom of speech have changed in light of the terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen in 2015.  Second, we will study the development in media discussions about religion, migration and freedom of speech in the period from the cartoon debate in 2006 to today, paying particular attention to the opinions expressed by editors and journalists. Third, we will focus on three groups that are particularly exposed to critique and harassment in public debates; politicians, ethnic and religious minorities and right-wing opponents of migration and Islam.

The project is conducted in cooperation with Professor Terje Rasmussen and Dr. Terje Colbjørnsen at the University of Oslo and Professor Hallvard Moe at the University of Bergen.

Media Coverage

Video: From the conference "The Fate of Freedom of Expression in Liberal Democracies", Kari Steen-Johnsen, October 2015, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Researchers: Arnfinn H. Midtbøen, Kari Steen-Johnsen, Bernard Enjolras, Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud, Audun Fladmoe, Synne Sætrang, Terje Rasmussen, Terje Colbjørnsen, Hallvard Moe, Karoline Ihlebæk, Ingrid Endresen Thorseth, Marjan Nadim

Media impact in the public service sector

Schedule: 2015-2018
Employer: NFR v/UIO

This project examines how a conflict-oriented, tabloid and dramatic news logic influences public welfare policies and administrative practices. News stories related to health and welfare are often emotional and critical. Online journalism, social media and 24/7 news cycles have intensified media pressure, demanding instant responses from affected stakeholders and propelling the development of sophisticated media strategies within public organizations.

In spite of the prominent role of the media in the debates over public welfare, the knowledge, both within media studies and in political science, is sparse regarding how the media affect the internal processes in ministries and agencies. Addressing this knowledge gap the project asks:

1) How does media coverage influence the allocation of public welfare resources?

2) How is the interplay between political leadership and public administration affected by a news logic?

3) How should government respond to media pressure on welfare issues and how can media-related practices improve?

4) How are fundamental values (fairness, solidarity and equality) of the welfare state challenged by the media and how can these processes be theorized?

The project contributes to the international research front by linking mediatization theory with theories on changes in public administration and welfare policies. Through the combination of qualitative ethnographic methods with extensive survey studies, the MIPS project contributes to a broader and deeper understanding of what is at stake should the public service increasingly adapt their structures and processes to media pressure.

Examining the normative implications and exploring alternatives to present media management, the MIPS team engages stakeholders within the public sector to critically evaluate the implications of current practices and propose alternative models for media management.

Researchers: Rune Karlsen, Tine Ustad Figenschou, Kristoffer Kolltveit, Thomas Schillemans, Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud

The state of freedom of speech in Norway – the Freedom of expression foundation’s monitor project.

Schedule: 2013-2014
Employer: Fritt Ord



Project Background

The Institute for Social Research managed the project together with the Department of Media and Communication (IMK) at the University of Oslo, Fafo, TNS Gallup and lawyer Jon Wessel-Aas to investigate the state of freedom of speech in Norway. The Institute for Social Research managed the project on assignment by the Fritt Ord Foundation.

The project addressed issues concerning the terms of freedom of speech, freedom of speech in light of multiculturalism, digitalization and shifting media structures, security, control and surveillance and the terms of freedom of speech in the labour market.

Project Results

The study is based on both qualitative and quantitative approaches, with a central element being a survey targeted at both the general public and at groups of particular interest to freedom of speech: Ethnic minorities, journalists and cultural workers.

In addition to several research reports, the project was conveyed through multiple platforms, with important arenas being a series of seminars and a webpage (

Researchers: Karoline Ihlebæk, Terje Rasmussen, Liv Hausken, Elisabeth Staksrud, Sissel Trygstad, Jon Rogstad, Roar Hind, Cecilie Kløvstad, Jon Wessel-Aas, Arnfinn H. Midtbøen, Bernard Enjolras