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The Beyond Project

Beyond is a three-part project stemming from our research on media trust and consumption in socio-economically disadvantaged areas in Sweden. Below, you'll learn about how we worked to generate actionable insights for our newsrooms!


In the spring of 2023, we conducted a study with Järvaveckan Research that showed that half of Swedes in socio-economically disadvantaged areas believe the news worsens the public perception of them and their neighbourhoods. It was also found that 48 percent of the general public shares this view. 

Based on these findings, we chose to delve deeper into the underlying causes of these perceptions in order to catalyse meaningful change.


Beyond Experts: a co-creative program

Beyond Experts was a co-creative program where we engaged solution-oriented experts with relevant lived and professional experiences in Stockholm’s socio-economically disadvantaged areas. The group collaborated closely with us and editorial staff from Schibsted's Swedish newsrooms SvD, Omni and Aftonbladet, over October to December 2023. Their mission included three key objectives, all addressed through workshops and facilitated discussions:

  1. Identify the main underlying reasons for the perceptions of news media in disadvantaged areas

  2. Propose actionable recommendations for our newsrooms

  3. Create a speculative future news experience.

The Beyond Experts group include:

  • Kassim Nagwere, Founder of Drömstort Förening 

  • Simon Matiwos, Poet and Educator

  • Filmon Tekle, Project Manager, Rädda Barnen

  • Shade Amao, National Project Lead at Vi Behövs (Fryshuset)

Beyond Insights: analysing our own reporting

Beyond Insights was an AI-powered analysis detailing the sentiments and topics of Aftonbladet, Omni and SvD’s reporting on disadvantaged areas during the past 5 years (2018-2023). The aim was to get a better understanding of whether the Beyond Experts’ experiences and the news coverage of disadvantaged areas were aligned or different.

Beyond Community: anchoring insights with communities

Beyond Community was a series of community events which enabled us to anchor and validate the experts' identified reasons and recommendations with local communities in disadvantaged areas across Stockholm. Within the framework of Beyond Community, we arranged the following events:  Focus groups at youth centres in Fisksätra and Hallonbergen, and a community event for adults in Rinkeby in collaboration with Järvaveckan.


Beyond Experts

Issues identified

The group identified four underlying reasons for the perception of the news media in disadvantaged areas, and these are:

1. Reinforcing a negative narrative 

News media is seen as reinforcing a negative narrative about disadvantaged areas by allowing politicians and the police to shape the media agenda, framing residents as the problem rather than part of the solution. 

2. Not examining power equally

News media is perceived to apply unequal scrutiny to powerful actors, with those in disadvantaged areas, facing heightened levels of scrutiny. Furthermore, this scrutiny frequently extends to affect entire communities in disadvantaged areas.

3. Failing to depict reality 

News media's coverage of disadvantaged areas diverges from residents' reality, raising concerns about its failure to accurately, impartially and comprehensively depict these areas. In this regard, concerns arise that journalistic principles are being sidelined. 

4. Failing in diversity and inclusion  

News media organisations are criticised for failing short of their stated diversity and inclusion goals. The lack of understanding within the journalist community regarding these areas raises concerns about the portrayal of important current issues such as gang violence, which is perceived as lacking in empathy and nuance.


Based on the identified reasons, we developed five recommendations in close partnership with selected editorial staff for the newsrooms to consider. These are:

  •  Expand the understanding of an ‘expert’

News media organisations are recommended to diversify their sources and be more deliberate in selecting individuals to share their perspectives or comment on news reporting concerning disadvantaged areas. This can ensure a diverse representation of various profiles and perspectives, enabling news consumers to have a broader range of viewpoints and empowering them to form their own opinions

  •  Engage in building long-term relationships

News media organisations are advised to cultivate long term relationships with residents in disadvantaged areas. By investing in these relationships, journalists can expand their networks, among other benefits. This not only fosters stronger connections with communities but also helps to bolster trust in the media and journalists. 

  • Invest more in systematic diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts

Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) efforts lie at the heart of addressing several of the identified underlying reasons for the perceptions of news media. Therefore, news organisations are recommended to focus more on a systematic approach which entails (but is not limited to) recruitment, on- the-job training and company culture to enhance the organisation's credibility and relevance. 

  • Explore new technology for examining those in power

News media organisations are recommended to explore and leverage modern technologies like AI to help examine public statements made by those in power regarding disadvantaged areas. For example, it is believed that technology can enable a more systematic approach to verify and present facts in relation to political statements. 

  • Include more perspectives and topics

To enhance the relevance of news concerning disadvantaged areas, it is recommended that news organisations adopt a more inclusive approach to news reporting by incorporating a broader spectrum of perspectives and topics. This shift is deemed crucial as the current narrow focus, which often revolves around themes such as crime and violence, distorts reality.

Beyond Insights

The AI-analysis showed that the media image of disadvantaged areas was characterised by crime, with it being the dominant topic every year for all newsrooms. However, topics that appeared in the reporting on disadvantaged areas had a relatively large variety, e.g. football, traffic, and education. At the same time, crime spilled over into most other topics.

The dominant feeling conveyed in the reporting was neutral. At the same time, the share of articles with negative sentiment increased over time and constituted almost as large a share as neutral sentiment by 2023. A particularly large increase occurred in 2023. Here you can read (in Swedish) more about this analysis.

Beyond Community

Through the community events that we held, it became apparent that the sentiments expressed by the experts resonated with a broader audience. To know the specific outcome of the focus groups at youth centres, you can read (in Swedish) a summarising report here.

For some key takeaways from the community event that we hosted together with Järvaveckan, see below.  

  • General consensus The group broadly agreed with the presented challenges and recommendations,  particularly concerning the negative portrayal of disadvantaged areas in the news and its community impact. Some were specifically concerned about journalists not scrutinizing populist statements by politicians about these areas.

  • Words matter The group expressed criticism against the news media’s use of the term ‘vulnerable areas’ (utsatta områden) to describe their area, stating it is an externally coined term by the police that perpetuates a negative perception. They also stated that this labelling negatively affects local communities – especially young people and their future prospects.

  • Know the place and the people The group highlighted the importance of journalists building local connections and lifting diverse local voices in the news. This very much aligns with the Beyond Experts' recommendations.


Our Swedish newsrooms were presented with the five recommendations from Beyond Experts in December 2023, and are currently working on how to implement selected recommendations in their respective operations. We at IN/LAB are excited to help them get started and follow their progress and provide support throughout their journey! We are also facilitating discussions about the prototype developed as part of the project (stay tuned for details).


Shade Amao, Vi Behövs (Fryshuset), Beyond Experts 

Kassim Nagwere, Drömstort Förening, Beyond Experts 

Filmon Tekle, Rädda Barnen, Beyond Experts

Simon Matiwos, Poet & Educator, Beyond Experts 

Hermon Gebretensaye, Intern fall 2023, IN/LAB

Hanna Schütz, UX freelance 

Belenn Bekele, Program Manager, IN/LAB

Molly Grönlund Müller, Community Researcher, IN/LAB

Agnes Stenbom, Head of Lab, IN/LAB


Read the full project report (in Swedish), here 

Read Beyond Insight report (in Swedish), here

Read Beyond Community report (in Swedish), here

Read Järvaveckan Research: Perspektiv Nyhetmedia (in Swedish), here


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