Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

Survivors Report Back. Young people reflect on their media experiences after a terrorist attack

Glad, K. A., Thoresen, S., Hafstad, G. S., & Dyb, G. (2018). Survivors Report Back. Young people reflect on their media experiences after a terrorist attack. Journalism Studies, 19(11), 1652-1668. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2017.1291313

This study sought to systematically explore how young survivors of a terrorist attack perceive specific aspects of their contact with the media.


We used data from a large-scale longitudinal study on health and coping among survivors of the terrorist attack at Utøya Island and their parents. Thirty to thirty-two months after the attack, 261 survivors (52.1 percent males, mean = 22.1, SD = 4.76) were asked to give a written description of their contact with the media post-terror, accentuating either a positive or a negative experience. Answers were systematically analyzed using the Consensual Qualitative Research method.

Of the 261 youths who participated, 192 (73.6 percent) described an experience with the media’s approach, the interview, or the coverage. Experiences with the media’s approach were predominantly described as negative, including accounts of intrusive reporters who lacked respect and compassion. Interview experiences were predominantly described as positive; survivors had been met with respect and compassion, and on their own terms, by professional reporters. Descriptions of the media coverage were more evenly distributed between positive and negative experiences; the main themes were (dis)satisfaction with the coverage and personally beneficial/burdensome aspects of the coverage. Reporters and editors should take the presented results into account when they cover terrorism and disasters.