Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours


Faculty of Communications and Creative Industries

First Supervisor

Dr Beate Josephi


The M/S Tampa in August 2001 was turned by the Australian government into a tool to fight the increasing numbers of boat people heading for Australia. But more importantly, it was a fight to win back votes before the upcoming federal election. Also in Norway an election was imminent, and even though the incident did not become an important part of the Norwegian election campaign, it played a role in Norway's involvement in the case. The media has a tendency to listen to authoritative voices, which can make the media a victim of political spin. Since the governments in Norway and in Australia strategically used the media as means to get their views across, the question will be explored if journalists failed to see the wider implications of the governments' message by concentrating too much on their government's daily pronouncements. This thesis will examine how the incident was framed differently in Norwegian and Australian newspapers, and how the use of authoritative sources influenced the two respective countries' coverage. This thesis will specifically look at articles published from the start of the Tampa incident until two days after the Australian federal election, in the two Norwegian newspapers, Tonsberg Blad and Aftenposten, as well as the two Australian newspapers, The West Australian and The Australian. The aim of this thesis is to identify how the Tampa incident was covered in Australia and Norway – two countries where the two respective governments had totally opposite views of the case- and to figure out why the coverage turned out so different. Specifically the following aspects will be explored: the way the incident was framed, the importance of the two countries' upcoming elections, forms of reporting, the use of authoritative sources, labelling, as well as the creation of bias when the local angle is favoured.