Press release, Kirkenes, Murmansk, Luleå, Oulu, September 29th 2015
On Monday 28th of September, Thomas Nilsen was fired from his position as chief editor of the online news site BarentsObserver by the owners of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the three Northern Norwegian county administrations.
STATEMENT FROM BARENTS PRESS INTERNATIONAL, CONCERNING THE RESTRICTION OF BARENTSOBSERVERS' EDITORIAL FREEDOM
Do journalists meet their duties?
We tried to answer to this question from the Russian and Swedish points of view at the forum “Freedom, security and justice – the common interests of the Baltic sea region”.
The only one duty – is to be a professional – believes Olof Kleberg, the former editor of the Swedish newspaper “Vesterbottens-Kuriren”. I have got beat surprised when the colleague told about the follows:
– Some officials many times have been trying to advice me what should be published and should not in our newspaper in accordance with their understanding the welfare of the local society.My surprise was caused by the fact that I had naively thought that the Swedish editors did not have to face with the authorities pressure. I thought that it was typical case for Russian journalism but not in the Nordic countries. Perhaps, despite the long-term experience in Barents Press, my view of the Swedish colleagues’ work was too idealistic.
Olof Kleberg, the former editor of the Swedish newspaper “Vesterbottens- Kuriren”.
Picture presented by STETE staff.
Olof Kleberg’s viewpoint was a perfect concept of an ideal editor while he said:
– I always maintained a firm attitude that media should not be a tool for the authorities and the journalists should not be marionettes. Here there is no place for compromise.
How do we write about each other?
Reporting this issue I was rather critical. In a brief statement I said the following:
–The journalists of neighbour countries often go behind from the dynamical processes, which take place in the North of Europe. We often a “stand under arms” and appear to be soldiers who follow the leaders of our countries. Sometimes we are not free reporters telling about people’s life but imprisoned stereotypes and impose it on public. We write too much about big politics and too little about people’s worries and needs in everyday life. Maybe because of that people read us less? On the Barents Press conferences we many times have regrettably noted that the interest towards the life of the neighbouring countries in the Barents region decreases.
The Swedish journalist was not so pessimistic in his evaluation of our job but in whole agreed that we report extremely bad life in neighbouring countries, thus helping to keep different prejudices about each other.
He gave a sad example of a died away cooperation between the “Vesterbottens-Kuriren” and “Severny Kurier” newspapers in Karelia. Also, Olof pitifully noted that there are no journalists in “Vesterbottens-Kuriren” really involved in Barents Press International cooperation.
Called to support journalist’s cooperation and Barents Press
Olof Kleberg made an appeal at forum to the Swedish politicians to renew the system of grants for development of free, democratic and professional press in Russia.
With the same request addressed Gunar Lassinantti, the board member of the Swedish OSCE-network.
He said in particular:
– Sweden is a chairman in the Barents cooperation now. Still it does not have anything to proud of. The support of the cooperation’s projects in the sphere of developing free Mess Media and democracy, international journalist partnership via Barents Press should be one of the priorities.
The fifth forum in Russia for Security Policy took place in Saint-Petersburg in the end of April. It was organized by different international institutions primarily with the help of STETE (Finnish Committee for European Security)
Parliaments members , ambassadors, representatives of different funds, officials, journalists, from eight European countries took part in.
We hope that political decisions makers will take into consideration ideas presented on the forum.
Translated by Irina Bykova