Communicating Risk: A Case Study on the 2014 Terror Alert in Norway

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Bergersen, Stine (2018) Communicating Risk: A Case Study on the 2014 Terror Alert in Norway, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political. DOI: 10.1177/0304375418770300.

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​In a press conference on July 24, 2014, the director of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) and the Minister of Justice unexpectedly broke the news that Norway was facing an unspecific, but credible threat that terrorists from an “extreme Islamic group” would shortly attack the country. A national terror alert was issued for the first time, followed immediately by exceptional security measures, such as the arming of the usually unarmed police. In the anticipation of an attack, the public was for the first time involved in the counterterrorism efforts by being asked to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behavior. However, there was no attack on Norway, and the alert was called off a few days later without any explicit explanation. As part of the larger context of how risks and threats have been communicated in the past decades, this article describes the materialization of the event and discusses how the announcement and the content of the communications by the authorities were framed in the media coverage of it. Concretely, based on the concept of framing theory, the media coverage surrounding the announcement is considered, and the announcement is discussed via three identified frames emerging from the empirical data. These are discussed against the backdrop of the recent history of Norwegian counterterrorism practices, focusing on the effects and impacts of making such an announcement.

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