News Frames and Global Terrorism Coverage in the UK and Norway

Context and Consequences for Humanitarian Issues

Authored by: Maria Konow Lund , Eva-Karin Olsson

The Routledge Companion To Media and Humanitarian Action

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138688575
eBook ISBN: 9781315538129
Adobe ISBN:


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This article examines the potential of history for framing acts of terrorism, such as the July 5, 2005 British and the July 22,2011 Norwegian attacks, in the aftermath of September 11, 2011. It focuses in particular on the impact of historical analogies for creating meaning and framing new reporting at both local and global levels. In both caseslocal frames of reference and meaning addressed citizens’ emotional and communal needs, such as solace, a sense of historical legacy, and identity concerns. The global frame of reference differed. In the British case, historical analogies were foremost means of connecting that terror event to the broader “war on terror frame,” which facilitated the identification of motives and policy responses. In the Norwegian case, no such analogies existed, which meant that history was unable to provide a contextual understanding. In short, historical analogies can serve to bring order to chaos but also limit other explanations and arguments and, as such, hamper knowledge crucial in creating informed publics. Yet, to a large extent analogies are nationally contextualized. In order for journalistic accounts to create meaning and comfort for global audiences, stronger efforts should be made to communicate such values by using inclusive, comprehensible and relevant global analogies.

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