Norwegian media digest trial

Press room at the Breivik trial in Oslo. 16 April 2012 Journalists packed the press room for the first day of the trial in Oslo

The opening day of the trial against Anders Behring Breivik received massive attention across all platforms in Norway.

The live television coverage - the first of its kind in the country's history - was, however, subjected to self-imposed censorship which left out the goriest details, out of consideration for the victims and their families.

In the days and weeks leading up to the trial, debate over how much media restriction would be appropriate dominated both the papers and broadcast output.

How much should they show? What would we be allowed to hear? A court order had already banned all outlets from showing Breivik's testimony.

Dagbladet, a national daily tabloid, had announced last week that their website would feature a "special Breivik-free edition button" at the top of the page.

The Oslo regional paper Dagsavisen had advocated a "dignified process".

What we got in the end was the sound feed cut off whenever Chief Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh read graphic details of how each of the 77 victims had died.

But on the opening day of the trial, most front pages were dedicated to Breivik's victims.

Dagsavisen printed the names of all the people shot dead at Utoeya, with a giant rose in the middle and the headline "Hour of Reckoning".

The tabloid daily VG - whose offices were hit by the bomb blast - quoted a survivor saying: "I'm looking forward to him receiving his punishment."

Dagbladet's paper edition carried a large stylised picture of Breivik which focussed on his eyes, and the headline reading: "This is what he will fear in court."

Breivik cries in court Breivik's tears were the subject of much media speculation

Throughout the day focus shifted towards interviews reacting to Breivik's smiles, smirks and tears, or the lack of any such signs of emotion.

Various psychiatric experts gave their opinions on the numerous little smiles the defendant sent in the direction of his defence lawyer, Geir Lippestad, and how he wept as his 12-minute propaganda video was shown in its entirety.

The almost unanimous conclusion was that these were tears of pride rather than any sign of remorse.

VG's political editor labelled Breivik "a self-pitying man with delusions of grandeur".

The same reactions dominated social media, although using much less restricted vocabulary.

Twitter was awash with messages expressing disgust at beholding Breivik's every move as the camera was fixed on him for most of the proceedings.

But in the midst of all the anger and consternation there was also room for a significant number of messages expressing the kind of social cohesion that came to the fore in the immediate aftermath of that dark summer's day.

One said: "With closeness, support and care for each other we spread the love when we need it the most. Hold hands!"

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