... Sanna Volny, lecturer at Södertörn University, which, in collaboration with Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall and Medier & Demokrati, is conducting the research project 'The digital media landscape and the local election in 2018'.
What is the project studying?
'The project consists of three parts and covers local election campaigns in three regions: Stockholm, Västernorrland and Östergötland. Researchers at Mid Sweden University are studying election coverage by local media three weeks before the election. At Södertörn, we are looking at the local media, the parties and local groups' activity on facebook and the last part consists of a survey of 2000 people and how they form their opinions in the local election.'
Why is the project interesting and important?
'Because most studies about the media's role are based on the parliamentary election. The last major study with a focus on local elections was Gunnar Nygren and Lars Nord's study from 2006 and a great deal has changed since then, particularly in the digital media landscape.'
How far has the research progressed - and what questions remain before the final result can be presented next years?
'At Södertörn, we are in the final phase of codifying about 5000 facebook posts from the local parties, media and in local groups. Then there is the joint analytical work and writing.
Have you discovered anything exciting that you can tell us about?
'It is, of course, interesting how the media and parties use local facebook groups, how they interact with each other, how the power structure looks and which questions dominate the election campaign on facebook. It is also very interesting to see the difference between different regions, depending on how strong the local media is and how interest in local issues has been mobilised in different groups in the election campaign. In Västernorrland, for example, interest in maternity and emergency healthcare in Sollefteå has been exploited to the maximum, or in Huddinge, where two journalists in two separate free newspapers have monitored the entire municipality.'
You are collaborated with Medier & Demokrati on part of the Ander Journalism Seminar at Karlstad University on 29 November. What did the audience learn?
'The latest numbers show how the political agenda differs between local media, action groups and parties in local election campaigns: which questions are most important and how local journalists, politicians, activists and regular citizens interact on facebook.'