A Matter of Relations : A reception study of global audiences’ interpretations of, and interest in, the Norwegian terrorist attacks in 2011

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för mediestudier


This Master’s thesis investigates the matter of relations as a contributing factor to foreign audiences’ interest in, and interpretation of, news events. An explorative designed quantitative study is conducted based on the example of the terrorist attacks in Norway, 2011. First, a questionnaire was created and shared online with audiences from 53 different countries, with the target group of members of the international exchange student organization Youth For Understanding. 318 responses were collected and analysed in SPSS and the thesis then analyses behavioural-, knowledge- and attitude responses through a quantitative content analysis. The findings are discussed in relation to earlier research on news value, psychology, global compassion and cultural studies.


In the results, it is found that foreign audiences’ relationships to the affected foreign country matter to a large extent, both seen to personal relationships such as having friends or family in or around Norway; but also features such as the respondents’ ability to identify with, and relate to, the news. The survey results show that a relation to Norway contributes to more in-depth knowledge and a higher interest rate in the news about the terrorist attacks, and also how relations to Norway affected the respondents’ cognitive and emotive memories of the event. The author recommends further studies with news examples tested on other, larger populations in order to reach a more reliable, valid and generalizable result.

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