The Investigating Power

Institutional Identity and Legal Narrative in SVT's Uppdrag granskning (Mission Investigate)


Duration: 2011 – 2016

Research Areas
Journalism Studies


The dissertation’s object of study is the program Mission Investigate, produced by the Swedish Public Service company SVT. It is one of the most high profile programs of investigative tv-journalism in the country. The program is analysed as a case study within the research field of journalism and power. A quantitative content analysis of all episodes broadcast between 2001-2014 answers questions such as: What type of power is investigated? What kind of misconduct and is featured in the episodes? Within which societal and problem areas are the investigations conducted? Journalistic investigation is one way in which a democratic society deals with certain types of transgression, guilt and responsibility. Mission Investigate could thus be analysed as a social institution acting within the domains of justice and morality. Reporters identify transgressions, look for and present evidence, hear victims of and persons responsible for misconduct and initiate discussions about justice, moral and responsibility at a societal level. A narrative analysis of five selected episodes aims to research and display how investigations construct institutional identity and construct, reproduce and legitimize journalistic power when presented in the form of a legal narrative. The dissertation also features the results of an interview study with five of Mission Investigate’s journalists. They give their own perspectives and reflections on the subject of investigative journalism and power. The ambition is to contribute to the ongoing discussion of media power and its relation to other societal forms of power.

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