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Heroes of the Day After Tomorrow: “The Oil Worker” in Norwegian Climate Coverage 2017–2021

Andreas Ytterstad, Camilla Houeland & David Jordhus-Lier

Journalism Practice, , 2022

Link to article

Forskere på Fafo: Camilla Houeland

In 2019, mentions of “oil worker” in Norwegian newspaper coverage of climate change more than quadrupled, mostly reflecting a rise in politicians vying for the support of this critical constituency. This article explores the rise of the oil worker in newspaper coverage in the period 2017–2021, identifying the main agents of change in the dominant narratives and demonstrating that agency tends to be ascribed to politicians rather than to the oil workers themselves, despite an outpouring of “thank-yous” to those workers for their contribution to society. We also distinguish between the various ways in which oil workers have been framed as heroes and find that newspapers in the Western part of the country portrayed oil workers as “national income heroes”, while left-wing papers attached a sense of pride to the social democratic history of the oil industry. Opinions were more polarized on the potential for oil workers to become climate heroes. While some suggested a conditional form of heroism, the “heroes of tomorrow”, based on the willingness of the workers to transition, others focused on the bravery of oil workers in seeking dialogue with their counterparts in the climate debate and thus becoming the “heroes of couples therapy”.

Heroes of the Day After Tomorrow: “The Oil Worker” in Norwegian Climate Coverage 2017–2021