The overarching research question of the NODE research centre is: What happens to news and public opinion when the daily press (which has historically been one of the most important institutions of information transmission and public opinion formation) is increasingly challenged by other institutions, forms of communications, and other social and economic factors?
Presently this research question is addressed through the research programme ”What if the press disappears?”. This research programme has two parts: one focused on media/news audiences, and one focused partly on the various groups of actors who actively work to disseminate sociopolitically-relevant information and who engage in public opinion formation (e.g. political parties, state and municipal authorities, interest groups); and partly on the new actors who have emerged as de facto producers of sociopolitically-relevant information in a new media landscape (e.g. activist groups, citizen journalists).
The audience part examines how people get and access information in a new media landscape. We are primarily interested in to whom people turn to, and when and why they turn to these people, in order to access and evaluate sociopolitically-relevant information of different types.
The producer/actor group part examines the consequences of ‘journalistic absence’ (i.e. the fact that most traditional news organizations devote less and less resources to investigative/accountability reporting) from the perspective of interest groups, NGOs, corporations, and state/municipal authorities. We are interested in (A) how communication strategies change when you can no longer count on reaching a ‘mass audience’ through ‘mass media’, and (B) how these actors think, act and strategize when accountability reporting disappears (or at least has to cope with significantly less resources), and whether there are any alternative actors or forces (e.g. citizen journalists, activists, the state/municipal authorities themselves) who are viewed as fulfilling similar functions.