PEJ New Media Index: Bloggers Assess Motives of the Norway Attacker

Jul 28, 2011

The dramatic July 22 attacks in Norway that resulted in the deaths of at least 68 people inspired a vibrant conversation in the blogosphere last week. While sympathy for the victims was significant, more time was devoted to conversations about the killer, Anders Behring Breivik, according to an analysis of social media conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

In the six days following the attacks (July 22-27), the largest component of the conversation on blogs (38%) involved passing along breaking news and facts. Bloggers passed along tidbits of information in the hours that followed the two attacks and then continued to share information about the death toll, Breivik's history and the developments in his prosecution.

But fully 20% of the conversation focused on the motives and ideology of Breivik himself, a 32-year-old Norwegian who admitted he committed the murders in an attempt to "save" Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover.

The most common view about him at 15% of the total conversation was that he was a right-wing extremist. As more details about the shooter emerged, including the text of his 1,500 page manifesto, bloggers attached right-wing extremism to his motivations. A number of bloggers also tied his views to those of conservative political parties in Europe and the United States.

Read the full report, Bloggers Assess Motives of the Norway Attacker, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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