“Coder,” “Activist,” “Hacker”: Aaron Swartz in the Italian, UK, U.S. and Technology Press

Philip Di Salvo


Aaron Swartz has been one of the pivotal characters in the recent history of the Internet. As an American activist, programmer, hacker and open access advocate, Swartz was involved in the launch of now established Web standards and services and has been vocal in some of the recent debates about digital rights, copyright and free access to the Web. Beginning in 2011, Swartz was involved in a legal battle for copyright infringement, having allegedly downloaded thousands of academic papers from the JSTOR archive. In 2013, at age 26, Swartz committed suicide. This paper, based on a content analysis of 273 articles, sheds light on how eight news outlets (established newspapers from Italy, UK, USA and two online-only technology websites) portrayed Swartz over the course of a 3-year timeframe, from July 2011 to December 2014.


Journalism; hacking; Aaron Swartz

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