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Completed project

Media impact in the public service sector

Changes in practices, processes and resource allocation in the goverment of welfare.

Project period 2014 - October 2018
Project employer The Research Council of Norway
Project nr. 10068
photo of journalists and bureaucrats


Project Background

This project examined 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.

Project Approach

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 asked:

  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 contributed 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 contributed to a broader and deeper understanding of what is at stake should the public service increasingly adapt their structures and processes to media pressure.


In this report (Norwegian) the main results of the project are summed up


Rune Karlsen PhD Research Professor (20% position) Send e-mail
Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud PhD Research Professor +47 951 09 236 Send e-mail


  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad; Karlsen, Rune & Kolltveit, Kristoffer (2022). Between spin doctor and information provider: Conceptualizing communication professionals in government ministries. Public Administration. doi: 10.1111/padm.12869. Full text in Research Archive
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad; Fredriksson, Magnus; Pallas, Josef & Houlberg Salomonsen, Heidi (2020). Under the influence of politics: Mediatisation and politico-administrative systems in Scandinavia. Nordic Journal of Media Studies. 2(1), p. 85–96. doi: 10.2478/njms-2020-0008.
  • Karlsen, Rune; Kolltveit, Kristoffer; Schillemans, Thomas & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2020). Media and Bureaucracy: Investigating Media Awareness Amongst Civil Servants. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration. Full text in Research Archive
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2019). Social bureaucracy? The integration of social media into government communication. Communications. p. 1–22. doi: 10.1515/commun-2019-2074.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2018). Mediated Agency, Blame Avoidance and Institutional Responsibility: Government Communication in a Personalised Media Landscape. Scandinavian Political Studies. 41(2), p. 210–232. doi: 10.1111/1467-9477.12117.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad; Karlsen, Rune; Kolltveit, Kristoffer & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2017). Serving the Media Ministers: A Mixed Methods Study on the Personalization of Ministerial Communication. The International Journal of Press/Politics. 22(4), p. 411–430. doi: 10.1177/1940161217720772. Full text in Research Archive
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2017). Patient narratives: Health journalists’ reflections, dilemmas and criticism of a compelling journalistic tool. In Fonn, Birgitte Kjos; Hornmoen, Harald; Hyde-Clarke, Nathalie & Hågvar, Yngve Benestad (Ed.), Putting a Face on it: Individual Exposure and Subjectivity in Journalism. Cappelen Damm Akademisk. p. 235–256. doi: 10.23865/noasp.28.

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  • Karlsen, Rune; Kolltveit, Kristoffer & Stoltenberg, Christina Hoelgaard (2018). Mediepåvirkning i offentlig sektor : Resultat- og dokumentasjonsrapport. Institutt for samfunnsforskning. Full text in Research Archive

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  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad; Fredriksson, Magnus; Kolltveit, Kristoffer & Pallas, Josef (2021). Public Bureaucracies. In Skogerbø, Eli; Ihlen, Øyvind; Kristensen, Nete Nørgaard & Nord, Lars W. (Ed.), Power, communication, and politics in the Nordic countries. Nordicom. p. 325–345. doi: %2010.48335/9789188855299-16.
  • Kolltveit, Kristoffer; Karlsen, Rune & Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2020). Conceptualizing Communication Professionals in Public Bureaucracies: Ideal Types and Empirical Application.
  • Kolltveit, Kristoffer; Figenschou, Tine Ustad & Karlsen, Rune (2018). Communication workers in ministries: Strategic links between politics and administration.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2018). Sluttrapport for forskningsprosjektet Media Impact in the Public Service Sector (2014-2018).
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2018). Sosialt byråkrati? Kommunikasjon i et hybrid medielandskap .
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2018). Den haltende valsen: Kilder og journalister i et medielandskap i sterk endring, .
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2017). Public sector communications and NGOs.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad (2017). Sosial byråkrati? Innovasjon, prøving og feiling.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2017). Social bureucracies? Government communication beyond the news logic.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad; Karlsen, Rune; Kolltveit, Kristoffer & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2017). Media influence on bureaucratic decision-making: Evidence from Norway and the Netherlands.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad; Fredriksson, Magnus; Pallas, Josef & Houlberg, Heidi (2017). Mediatization in translation – the Nordic experience.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2017). Sosialt byråkrati?
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2017). Helsebyråkratiets bevisste bruk av media.
  • Figenschou, Tine Ustad & Thorbjørnsrud, Kjersti (2017). Dual Personalization: Government communication in an emotional media landscape.

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Tags: Digitalization
Published Sep. 2, 2014 3:53 PM - Last modified Feb. 11, 2019 10:58 AM