The Difference Culture Makes

Comparing Swedish news and cultural journalism on the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris

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Although terrorist attacks in Europe have increasingly been carried out on cultural targets such as media institutions, concert halls and leisure venues, most research on media and terrorism draws conclusions based on traditional hard news stories rather than on journalism specialising in cultural issues. This study explores the distinctiveness of Swedish cultural journalism by comparing it to news journalism, using the 2015 terror attacks in Paris as a case study. Our content analysis reveals that whereas news journalism is mainly descriptive, focusing on the short-term consequences of terrorism, security frames and political elites and eyewitnesses as sources, cultural journalism is more interpretive, giving a voice first and foremost to “cultural elites”. The “cultural filter” put on this event means a focus on the longer term implications of terrorism and instead of engaging in the hunt for the perpetrators, there is greater emphasis on the societal dilemmas that terrorism accentuates, especially the democratic values that are at stake. However, our results also show that the ongoing “journalistification” of cultural journalism, as defined by a stronger prevalence of descriptive style, blurs the lines between news and cultural journalism.

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CiteScore 2018: 0.54

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.223
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.270


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