Report- "Journalism in an age of populism and polarisation: lessons from the migration debate in Italy"

How should journalists adapt their editorial strategies to overcome extreme polarisation and the tactics of populist politicians? Over the past year LSE Arena worked on a unique project with the Italian Newspaper Corriere della Sera and the University of Venice. We analysed different approaches to writing about migration in Italy, a highly controversial topic in the country. How can one cover such issues in a way that promotes civil engagement, enhances trust and a fact-based discourse?

In order to find an answer, Arena and our partners established a unique set of 'public service spirited' metrics and analysed thousands of online comments. The study was presented at a workshop in London with senior editors and journalists from the BBC, Observer, Financial Times and others.

See translations of the Executive Summary in French, Spanish and Italian.

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Report- "Smearing Sweden, International Influence Campaigns in the 2018 Swedish Election"

This ISD-Arena report presents the findings of a project that investigated foreign attempts to influence the 2018 Swedish elections online.

The project revealed the relative isolation of the Swedish far-right online, with few internationally coordinated efforts identified in the Swedish election information ecosystem. Online Scandinavian far-right networks made some attempts to seed disinformation and hate campaigns in Sweden through fringe platforms such as 4Chan and Discord, but these efforts were neither widespread or consistent.

Internationally, the research unearthed a consistent and concerning information campaign targeting Sweden’s reputation from far-right networks across the US, UK, France, Germany, Poland and Hungary. This campaign has also been promoted on an ongoing basis by Kremlin-sponsored media in various languages.

The report provides recommendations for steps that can be taken by Swedish and international policymakers, media and civil society in order to build a proportional and effective response to these kind of influence efforts.

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Report- "How to Talk with Russia: Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century"

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Report- "Soviet Subversion, Disinformation and Propaganda: How the West Fought Against it"

What were Soviet influence and disinformation campaigns? What did the West do about them? This study answers these questions, explaining the Cold War strategies followed by the USSR, as well as the Western response.

The full report contains eleven case studies, each one examining a counter-disinformation and counter-propaganda tactic in depth, with comments on the relevance of that tactic today.

Please see below for the executive summary of the report. The full report is available upon request and any emails regarding the report should be sent to

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Report- "Make Germany Great Again"

Our findings suggest that a mixture of inaccurate Russian state-sponsored news and pro-Kremlin social media manipulation was used to reinforce socially divisive issues, such as immigration and distrust of democratic institutionsm, with a clear bias towards the AfD party. 

The report provides recommendations for steps that can be taken by domestic and international civil society, policymakers and media in order to build a proportional and effective response to these efforts.

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As part of the Arena team’s previous research, Peter and Anne wrote, edited or published the following research:

Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, Berivan Orucoglu, Gary Rawnsley, Abigail Fielding-Smith and Peter Pomerantsev, “The New Authoritarians: Ruling Through Disinformation”Beyond Propaganda, June 2015.

Nicholas J. Cull, “Counter Propaganda: Cases from US Public Diplomacy and beyond”Beyond Propaganda, July 2015.

Laura Jackson, Timothy Thomas, Mark Laity, Ben Nimmo and Peter Pomerantsev, “Information at War: From China’s Three Warfares to NATO’s Narratives”Beyond Propaganda, September 2015.

Katrina Elledge, David Patrikarakos, Charlie Winter and Peter Pomerantsev, “Cyber Propaganda: From how to start a revolution to how to beat ISIS”Beyond Propaganda, November 2015.

Edward Lucas and Peter Pomerantsev, “Winning the Information War: Techniques and Counter-strategies to Russian Propaganda in Central and Eastern Europe”Center for European Policy Analysis, August 2016.

Paul Copeland, “Factual Entertainment: How to Make Media Literacy Popular”Beyond Propaganda, August 2016.

Marina Pesenti and Peter Pomerantsev, “How to Stop Disinformation: Lessons from Ukraine for the Wider World”Beyond Propaganda, August 2016.