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Journalism and the scrutiny of local politics. A study of scrutiny and accountability in Swedish journalism

Journal article
Authors Mats Ekström
Bengt Johansson
Larsåke Larsson
Published in Journalism Studies
Volume 7
Issue 2
Pages 292-311
ISSN 1461-670X
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 292-311
Language en
Keywords Local journalism, scrutiny, accountability, investigative journalism, political journalism
Subject categories Media and Communications


The article presents a study on the role of daily news reporting in the scrutiny of local politics. Political accountability is defined as an important aspect of scrutiny. The study shows that the kind of scrutinizing often mentioned in the literature, characterized by thorough investigations and disclosures of political wrongdoings, nearly doesn’t exist at all in the local press. However, by identifying other forms of scrutinizing more closely related to ordinary news reporting, the study shows that one third of the articles are in some aspect scrutinizing, out of 1500 analysed articles. An overall conclusion is that the local press plays an important role in communicating information and critique concerning how local authority service areas works, and how political responsibilities are fulfilled. The study also indicates that this role has been strengthened during the second half of the 20th twentieth century. The press in three different municipalities has been studied at three different points of time (1961, 1981 and 2001).

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