Multiperspectival Normative Assessment: The Case of Mediated Reactions to Terrorism

Hartmut Wessler, Scott L. Althaus, Chung Hong Chan, Marc Jungblut, Kasper Welbers, Wouter Van Atteveldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides a model for how communication phenomena can be normatively assessed using multiple normative perspectives simultaneously. We exemplify the procedure of multiperspectival normative assessment (MNA) using mediated reactions to terrorism as our case in point. We first identify the normative challenges related to the speed and substance of terrorism communication and the ways in which relations of solidarity are communicatively constructed in reacting to terrorism. We link these challenges to four distinct normative theories that prioritize competing values for public discourse (freedom, community values, empowerment of the marginalized or constructive debate). The resulting set of competing normative expectations, which help assess the performance of terrorism communication, are eventually translated into recommendations for professional and non-professional communicators. In conclusion, we show how MNA can help ground empirical scholarship in firmer theoretical foundations while simultaneously demonstrating the usefulness of normative theory in analyzing a wide range of issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-386
Number of pages24
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • Journalism
  • Normative Assessment
  • Normative Theory
  • Public Sphere Theory
  • Social Media
  • Terrorism
  • Terrorism Communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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