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Erik Knudsen is a researcher at the MediaFutures Research Centre for Responsible Media Technology and Innovation and PI of the project NEWSREC – The Double-edged Sword of News Recommenders’ Impact on Democracy (awarded by the the highly competitive program Research projects for young talents by the Research Council of Norway). He did his postdoc at the Digital Social Science Core Facility (DIGSSCORE) and hold a PhD from the Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Much of his research innvolves methodological innovation and explores effects of political news use, political communication, trust in journalism, exposure to like-minded information, and polarization and fragmentation. He is founder and PI of the Norwegian Journalism Panel and the interdisciplinary Research Group for Political Behaviour, Democracy and Communication (PADKOM) at DIGSSCORE and has lead the development process of the DATADONOR tool for safely collecting digital trace data of news use. His work has appeared in Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Journalism, Digital Journalism, Scandinavian Political Studies, and other peer-reviewed journals.
Knudsen, Erik (2022) “Modeling News Recommender Systems’ Conditional Effects on Selective Exposure: Evidence from Two Online Experiments.” Journal of Communication, published online ahead of print. The journal is the flagship journal of the International Communication Association (ICA) and is the most prestigious journal in the field of communication research. Single authored. Open access. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqac047
Knudsen, Erik ⓡ Nordø, Åsta Dyrnes & Iversen, Magnus Hoem (in press) “How Rally-Round-the-Flag Effects Shape Trust in the News Media: Evidence From Panel Waves Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis.” Political Communication, published online ahead of print. The journal is one of the most prestigious journals in the field. The “ⓡ” symbol indicates that the author order is randomized. Shared first author, I am corresponding author.
Qualifications: political communication, news use, selective exposure, affective polarization, news recommender systems, journalism, framing, agenda setting, media effects, news values, media logics and mediatisation of politics, quantitative content analysis, experimental research design, public opinion and survey research.
Master level course:
2013: Course leader, supervisor, and teacher for MEVI317: News media, agenda, framing, scandals, sources and media effects
Bachelor level course:
2013 and 2014: Supervisor and teacher in MEVI102: Media, audience, media use and opinion formation
2012: Teacher for MEVI100: Introduction to media and communication
For an updated list of my publications please see my Google scholar profile.
- (2022). Modeling news recommender systems’ conditional effects on selective exposure: evidence from two online experiments. Journal of Communication.
- (2021). How the public understands news media trust: An open-ended approach. Journalism - Theory, Practice & Criticism.
- (2020). The visual boundaries of journalism: Native advertising and the convergence of editorial and commercial content. Digital Journalism. 929-951.
- (2020). Disentangling the Influence of Recommender Attributes and News-Story Attributes: A Conjoint Experiment on Exposure and Sharing Decisions on Social Networking Sites. Digital Journalism.
- (2020). Affective Polarization in Multiparty Systems? Comparing Affective Polarization Towards Voters and Parties in Norway and the United States. Scandinavian Political Studies.
- (2018). Mistillit til den andre siden : ideologisk selektiv eksponering og tillit til røde og blå medier . Norsk Medietidsskrift. 1 pages.
- (2018). Beyond the Limits of Survey Experiments: How Conjoint Designs Advance Causal Inference in Political Communication Research. Political Communication. 1-13.
- (2016). When politicians go native: The consequences of political native advertising for citizens’ trust in news. Journalism - Theory, Practice & Criticism. 961-978.
- (2016). Når nyhetsrammer og medialisering møtes : hvordan og hvorfor ramme- og medialiseringsteori bør integreres tettere. Norsk Medietidsskrift. 1-19.
- (2016). Journalistikkens fremstillingsmakt. Nyhetsrammer, meningsdanning og medialisering.
- (2013). Simulation of a suite of generic long-pulse neutron instruments to optimize the time structure of the European Spallation Source. Review of Scientific Instruments. 9 pages.
NEWSREC – The Double-edged Sword of News Recommenders’ Impact on Democracy (project number 324835)
The NEWSREC project was awarded by the highly competitive program Research projects for young talents by the Research Council of Norway.
NEWSREC deals directly with one of the most pressing questions facing the news media today: What are the precise conditions under which news recommender technology are for the better or the worse for the democratic role of the news media? We focus on one of the most heavily debated consequences of news recommenders: individuals' exposure to and sharing of like-minded news (selective exposure and sharing).
Evidence of news recommenders’ dystopian democratic threats (e.g., Filter Bubbles) and of their opportunities to counter such threats remain largely anecdotal. Despite an increasing scholarly attention to news recommender systems, the precise conditions under which they are a threat to or an opportunity for democracy remain a puzzle. NEWSREC addresses this puzzle head-on by offering a radically new perspective: We aim to shift the scholarly attention from the dominant perspective of uncovering and describing whether the current news recommender systems (such as those used by Facebook and Twitter) lead to Filter Bubbles to understanding the conditions under which news recommender systems do so, given that they are designed for that purpose. By focusing on this counterfactual (i.e., what has not happened but could or might under differing conditions), we radically shift the responsibility for the democratic implications of recommender systems from the technology itself to the decisions surrounding the implementation and design of the technology. We mobilize this novel perspective by developing the first news recommender that is tailor-made to pioneer research on the conditions under which news recommenders amplify or reduce selective exposure and sharing.
The NEWSREC project will: (A) develop a framework for understanding when and how news recommenders can increase or decrease selective exposure and sharing, and delineate the ethical considerations pertaining to designing recommenders to do so; (B) develop the first news recommender equipped with factors that increase or decrease selective exposure and sharing; (C) use a randomized field experiment to test this recommender to gain a precise understanding of when and how news recommenders increase or decrease selective exposure and sharing.
NEWREC is lead by Erik Knudsen (University of Bergen). The research team conists of Damian Trilling (University of Amsterdam) and Christoph Trattner (University of Bergen, Director of MediaFutures Research Centre for Responsible Media Technology & Innovation). NEWSREC's scientific advisory board consists of Natali Helberger (University of Amsterdam), Magdalena Wojcieszak (University of California, Davis), and Wouter van Atteveld (Vrie University of Amsterdam).
I am an internationally recognized expert in quantitative audience research. I have a proven track-record in research and infrastructure leadership, fielding and analyzing experiments (e.g., Knudsen, 2022; Knudsen & Johannesson, 2019), and conducting and analyzing panel surveys (e.g., Knudsen et al., 2023). More recently, I have developed my area of research by combining my expertise in fielding experiments and surveys with computational approaches to analyzing large datasets of digital trace data. For instance, within the NEWSREC project (https://www.newsrec.ai) that I currently lead, I am the main supervisor of an information science PhD candidate with the aim to build a prototype of a news recommender system and test the effects on citizens’ news use. To achieve this, we are combining the methods of field experiments, software development (i.e., the recommender system), and computational approaches to measure the effects of the recommender system on citizens’ exposure to cross-cutting versus like-minded news.
Infrastructure and data collection leadership
I have a strong background in developing and leading social science data collection processes, infrastructures, and tools. This includes:
- Currently leading the process of developing the MediaFutures’ tool, DATADONOR (freely available here: https://github.com/sfimediafutures/Data-Donation).
- Currently leading the Norwegian Citizen Panel’s Political Behavior and Communication Data Collection Group at DIGSSCORE. The group coordinates questions and experiments three times a year for a probability-based survey panel with over 11,000 active panel members. I have led the group since 2017. The group is flourishing, bringing together researchers from communication science, political science, economics, and sociology.
- Currently leading a group that designs and fields the annual Media Survey—a coordinated survey with Norwegian journalists, editors, and citizens. I have led the group since 2018.
I currently lead the NEWSREC project, managing an international (i.e., Uni. of Bergen and Uni. of Amsterdam) and interdisciplinary team of researchers within information science, computational communication science, and political communication. The role as PI has provided me with considerable experience in research leadership, considering my career stage. This makes me uniquely qualified to lead future large-scale projects.
I am passionate about research dissemination and regularly disseminate my research. I am regularly used as a source, and cited in Norwegian news media as an expert on news use, public opinion, polarization, and trust. I also lead the annual ‘Media Survey’ which I present to approximately 500 Norwegian journalists and editors at the annual media industry conference, Nordic Media Days. In addition, I have considerable experience speaking to a large audience (e.g., my TED talk at TEDxBergen in 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3qHJC5LwJQ).
My most important publications
My work has appeared in some of the most prestigious and highly ranked journals within the field communication research and the sub-fields political communication and journalism research. While most of my work is co-authored, I lead the writing and submission process of almost all my articles and have published a sole-authored article in Journal of Communication which iswidely regarded as the most prestigious journal in the field of communication research. In terms of independence, none of my publications are co-authored by my PhD thesis supervisors or mentors. My research is highly visible: I have presented my work at 29 peer-reviewed international conferences, ten of which were at the field’s most prestigious conferences (ICA and APSA). I have published nine articles in international peer-reviewed journals, two articles in national peer-reviewed journals, five book chapters, and one PhD dissertation (Monograph). I consider the following seven publications my most important publications.
- Knudsen, Erik (2022) “Modeling News Recommender Systems’ Conditional Effects on Selective Exposure: Evidence from Two Online Experiments.” Journal of Communication, published online ahead of print. The journal is the flagship journal of the International Communication Association (ICA) and is the most prestigious journal in the field of communication research. Single authored. Open access.
- Knudsen, Erik ⓡ Nordø, Åsta Dyrnes & Iversen, Magnus Hoem (2023) “How Rally-Round-the-Flag Effects Shape Trust in the News Media: Evidence From Panel Waves Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis.” Political Communication, published online ahead of print. The journal is one of the most prestigious journals in the field. The “ⓡ” symbol indicates that the author order is randomized. Shared first author, I am corresponding author. Open access.
- Knudsen, Erik and Johannesson, Mikael Poul (2019) “Beyond the limits of survey experiments: How conjoint designs advance causal inference in political communication research.” Political Communication, 36(2), 259-271. Citations: 38. Open access.
- Johannesson, Mikael Poul ⓡ Knudsen, Erik (2020) “Disentangling the Influence of Recommender Attributes and News-Story Attributes: A Conjoint Experiment on Exposure and Sharing Decisions on Social Networking Sites.” Digital Journalism, 1-21. Citations: 10. The journal is one of the most important journals within the subfield of journalism studies. Shared first author, I am corresponding author. Open access.
- Knudsen, Erik (2021) “Affective Polarization in Multiparty Systems? Comparing Affective Polarization Towards Voters and Parties in Norway and the United States.” Scandinavian Political Studies. Citations: 37. Single authored. Impact: cited in 1 policy document. The article is already among the 20 most cited and the 5 most read articles of the journal. Open access.
- Iversen, Magnus Hoem, and Knudsen, Erik (2019) “When Politicians go Native: Consequences of Native Advertising for Citizens’ Trust in Political News.” Journalism, 20(7), 961-978. Citations: 53. Journalism. Shared first author, I am corresponding author. Impact: cited in 2 policy documents. Won Best Article award by the Norwegian Media and Communication Association.
- Knudsen, Erik, Stefan Dahlberg, Magnus Hoem Iversen, Mikael Poul Johannesson, and Silje Nygaard (2021) “How the Public Understands News Media Trust: An Open-ended Approach.” Journalism. Citations: 8. I am first author. Open access.