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Järvaveckan Resarch x IN/LAB: Media Trust and Consumption in Multicultural Areas

In collaboration with Järvaveckan Research and Novus Group International we conducted two comprehensive studies exploring media trust and consumption habits in multicultural areas. These studies centred around two groups; residents in what are commonly referred to as Sweden’s “vulnerable areas” (utsatta områden) and the “immigrant dense”(innvandrertette) areas of Oslo, Norway.

Photo © Järvaveckan

BACKGROUND

In Sweden, over half a million people, many with backgrounds in other countries, live in the vulnerable areas which are characterised by, among other things, lower-than-average socio-economic status and residents with lower degrees of trust in society’s institutions compared to the national average. Similarly in Norway, our qualitative research has shown how residents in the immigrant dense communities in Oslo have shown tendencies that media trust and consumption habits differ from the national average.


We believe that the expressed discontent and distrust in the media can have major negative consequences for the democratic and societal participation among these groups of people. With this research we therefore wanted to chart media attitudes, experiences, and needs to deepen our understanding of opinions and behaviours, and identify avenues for possible future opportunities to better cater to these groups.


WHAT WE DID

We decided to gather insights that could contribute to a more nuanced understanding of media habits in Sweden and Norway. The research consisted of surveys which were answered by people with backgrounds in over 100 different countries.


Sweden

After more than 2,000 interviews conducted by Novus – half with residents in vulnerable areas (conducted in Swedish, English, Arabic and Somali) and half with the general public – we e.g. learned the following:

  • 48 % of respondents often or sometimes actively avoid consuming news. Residents in vulnerable areas more frequently report that they avoid news often, compared to the general public. The most commonly reported reasons are that news is perceived as tragic/sad, or that you become frustrated by consuming them.

  • 50 % of residents in vulnerable areas perceive events such as Koran burnings to be portrayed in an unbalanced way by the news media, compared to 36 % of the general public.

  • More of those living in vulnerable areas state that they believe that journalists "can write what they want" (31 % compared to 19 % in the general public).


Norway

After more than 2,000 interviews conducted by Novus – half with residents in Oslo's multicultural areas (conducted in Norwegian, English, and Arabic) and half with the general public – we e.g. learned that:

  • 46 % of residents in multicultural areas often or sometimes actively avoids the news. Residents of the multicultural areas indicate to a higher degree than the general public that they do it often, and the most common reasons are that the news is perceived as tragic or boring - or that one wants to avoid a troublesome ongoing news event.

  • Half of the respondents believe that the news media's reporting portrays poor countries in Africa and Asia and wars/conflicts outside Europe in an unbalanced way.

  • Six out of ten also believe that journalists have a political agenda, which is on the same level as the general population. Almost half also state that they believe that journalists have a personal agenda.

When asked about the possible reasons why the target group sometimes does not want to answer questions from journalists, most state that it is because they do not want to be seen in the media and that they do not trust that what they say will be understood by the journalist.


FEEDBACK

The findings have been covered by major Swedish and Norwegian media, as well as debated at Järvaveckan 2023 and Arendalsuka 2023. See below for a selection of the news coverage.

LINKS

Download the full reports at https://jarvaveckan.se/jarvaveckan-research/










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