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Incurably Optimistic: Swedes Stay Positive and Believe the Media

© AFP 2023 / JONATHAN NACKSTRANDSwedish newspapers with frontpages depicting South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela
Swedish newspapers with frontpages depicting South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela - Sputnik International
A survey conducted by Sweden's largest newspaper Dagens Nyheter, in conjunction with polling institute Ipsos, has revealed that the Swedish general public has a great amount of confidence in the official media.

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Confidence in the public media and the major morning papers remains strong, shows a recent survey by Dagens Nyheter and polling institute Ipsos. At present, the official media are trusted by an overwhelming majority of Swedes.

Recently, there has been a lively debate in Sweden about the media's credibility regarding such tender areas as immigration and the crime rate. Various sources claim that the Swedish media have a significant leftist bias and are sugarcoating the influx of refugees from the third world, claiming that they are beneficial for Sweden's economy and cajoling the public opinion into a mellow reception of newcomers.

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This outlook was recently voiced by Ulf Adelsohn and Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth, former top members of the Moderate Party (Moderaterna). In a controversial interview with Dagens Nyheter on March 20, the Adelsohns, (Ulf is the former leader of the Moderate Party, Lena is the former Minister of Culture) unleashed bitter criticism towards the media's coverage of such issues as the immigration crisis, sexual harassment and ethnic crime.

The joint survey by the DN and Ipsos shows, however, that the general public has great confidence in both Swedish Television and Swedish Radio, as well as the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet: 75 percent of respondents are reported to have fairly strong confidence in Swedish Television, whereas confidence in Swedish Radio amounts to 73 percent. The country's leading morning papers Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet failed to reach the same trust levels, nevertheless achieving a solid trust level of above 50 percent. However, Aftonbladet, the country's leading tabloid, scored a trust level of only 21 percent.

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With the media landscape in a constant flux and immigration climbing to the top of the political agenda, a plethora of websites and online newspapers have emerged, often labeled as 'alternative media', which claim to offer an unvarnished picture of the most sensitive topics. Some of them, such as the independent and anti-immigration website Avpixlat, featured in the survey for the first time, but did not fare all that well. This is partly due to the fact that they remain largely unfamiliar to the broad public, and partly due to the mainstream media's penchant for branding independent rivals who don't share their agenda as 'hate-mongers' or 'racists'.

"People believe that the media in general provide a reasonable picture of society. However, we are talking about overall media confidence, which does not prevent people from having their areas of doubt," says Lennart Weibull, senior professor at the SOM Institute of Gothenburg University.

Although confidence figures currently are good, there is an underlying danger, argues the media professor, who simultaneously points to economic problems stemming from circulation and advertising revenues.

"The largest risk is that companies choose to proceed with expenditure cuts. Providing more resources for quality journalism establishes credibility," says Lennart Weibull.

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