The Newsworthiness of «the Norwegian Way» - A Comparative Case Study of Media Coverage of Norway’s Association with the EU in other states of the European Economic Area
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Norway’s association with the European Union (EU) is usually not a source for international news. However, 2016 saw a sharp uptick in international media coverage as the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to hold a referendum on the continuance on their EU membership increased interest in Norway’s deal with the EU as an alternative model of association. This study sets out to measure and compare the media coverage of Norway’s association with the EU in two countries, which are EU Member States and thus states of the European Economic Area, the UK and Sweden, in the period 1994-2016. In the thesis, I analyse when and how Norway’s association with the EU are covered in these countries’ press. A qualitative analysis identifies peaks in coverage by comparing the number of articles in a selection of newspapers. For instance, the study finds that there was more UK coverage in 2016 than in the rest of the 22-year period put together (326 of 523 articles identified). To explain what creates newsworthiness regarding Norway’s association with the EU, a sample of articles are then analysed in a qualitative content analysis, to find which events and issues that led to the coverage, and how these events and issues are reported. The quantitative and qualitative analyses lead to the conclusion that Norway’s association with the EU is more newsworthy when: 1) the country is close to Norway, 2) the EU-Norway relation is characterized by conflict, and 3) when there is clear and direct domestic relevance for the country the newspaper is based in.