This study examines how a couple of Swedish daily newspapers construct the hacker network Anonymous, with an aim to discuss its possible effects. The question was: In which ways is the network Anonymous constructed in a few Swedish newspapers?
26 articles from four chosen newspaper were analysed, but because of many similarities in content, only 10 were chosen for deep analysis. With Fairclough's model of critical discourse analysis as chosen method, constructions varying from the images of heroes to villains were found as a result. The most common construction was that of Anonymous as a threat, which was most often exaggerated compared to what actions were actually described in the texts. In the secondly most common discourse, "guilty by association", Anonymous would be mentioned in a context, like in the report of a crime, without any apparent reason.
Though labelled with other words, what the texts often described were actions that lived up to the criteria of civil disobedience, but in a digital context. Some texts described a protest movement that might get more legitimized, or continue as a guerrilla group. In some cases Anonymous were given power by getting their messages repeated without criticism, most likely accidentally since their usual silence might make the journalist jump when suddenly contacted directly. In other cases they were deliberately smeared, and constructed as a mischievous and powerless bunch of nerds.
Opinions differed, but from the texts could be concluded that Anonymous is the first Internet based protest movement of its kind. How their identity develops may make or break the possibilities for future online protest movements and civil disobedience acts. In which direction they progress isn't the topic of this study. But what possible effects the newspapers constructions of Anonymous might have on that progress is of high interest.
The discussion's theoretical base is that the journalistic content has an effect on its audience, and an effect on the construction of identity, both collective and individual. The media further have power, to some extent, over their audience as well as over their subjects.
2012. , 40 p.