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
Bosses from “Evil Empire”
In the educational centre of journalism Update in Århus twee were told much new and all questions were willingly answered. We also had a chance to try roles of multimedia journalists. Each of three teams in the became an editorial collective of a certain edition — business, public and tabloid.
Discussion with Norwegian journalists, from left to right, Morten Ruud, Elnar Seljevold, Svetlana Loychenko, Nina KiselevaLet us call the bosses!
It was the 18-th course for Russian journalists to Norway, organized by Consult Inform and Barents Press with a support of the Norwegian MFA. In recent years, more than 150 journalists from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions, Karelia, the Nenets district and the Komi Republic have taken part in courses on various topics. We discussed the political journalism and election in Norway, oil and gas issues, indigenous peoples, radio journalism.
This time, together with Elnar Selejevold, head of Consult Inform, decided to invite the heads of the media. We thought in a following way:
- Journalists are often involved in different projects, but the bosses are not always happy to let them go. Perhaps, it is high time bosses to be invited, in order to show, firstly, what their staffs learn in Norway, and secondly, the bosses themselves may turn to be "kinder."
So, at the end of September eight editors from different Barents-Russia regions and different media: public and private, print and electronic, took off to Norway.
The program trip was very diverse. Besides already mentioned discussion, there were meetings in various Norwegian news rooms of Tromsø, Oslo, sturting, MFA, editors’ and journalists' unions.
With the consent of the authors I allow myself to give some extracts from the participant’s impression about ten days in Norway.
Alexei Smirnov, editor of newspaper Petrazovodsk:
-Now I can frankly say that before I knew nothing about Norway, though I thought vice versa. Today I have more or less complete understanding of the kingdoms’ state structure and the people who live there. A lot of useful information I have learnt from newspapers, television and the meeting with the Journalists Union and Norway editors. Unfortunately, we are to far from such a media freedom like in Norway, and the problem is not even in our political system and economy. I was a little bit jealous hearing how the Norwegians say with pride: 'We have a strong economy!”.
Course participants in NRK Finnmark-Troms studio
Natalia Chernova, deputy editor of private newspaper Dvazdy Dva , Apatity, Murmansk region:
-The most important thing for me – is confirmation of my thoughts about what the real journalism in a democratic society is, what the norm in this work is, and what - deviation. I believe that this course provides guidance - where and to what we should aim, to gain happiness from our profession and good to our readers. I will be able to specify and correct my request, as a newspaper editor, towards my employees: to demand more of immediate news, detailed reports and understanding the fact that authorities should work for people, not vice versa.Alexei Vasin, the general director of TV Radio Pomorye , Arkhangelsk:
-It was a surprise, that there was lack of links between the financial status of media and its patient (or impatient) towards authorities and other financial organisations. It is difficult to apply this knowledge because Norway and Russia have controversially different models.
Svetlana Loychenko, editor of Pravda Severa and Severny Komsomolets, Arkhangelsk:
-I was the first time I visited Norway. I will remember Norway as a warm country, because of both sunshine and warm treating. People who communicated with us are absolutely friendly to Russia. But the fact that they also see Russia as a threat can be explained. It is not necessarily a military threat. Coming back, we were driving from the Arkhangelsk airport, so we could hardly breathe because of our cellulose factories’ emissions.
Two Norwegians from Tromsø followed our flight too. What did they poor thought about it? Is not this a threat? We have one and the same air and water area. We have to confess that the threat does exist. Not taking into consideration our overwhelming corruption, that does not let Norwegian entrepreneurs, who have taken the risk and invested in our economy, to breathe free.
They have experience (also in journalism) which is valuable for us. Their success is evident, because they have freedom, opportunity to listen to everyone who has something to tell about.
Could we apply this knowledge? It is important that it do exist. It is important to understand that hanging with your head down - is not natural. But many still consider it to be a norm. And then we go there and see that-really-their legs walk and head thinks! May we apply this knowledge? But how? This is a question… not towards journalists.
New Year, New plans
All participants described the work of our Norwegian organizer Elnar Seljevold with the best words. He was called "encyclopedically educated man, a brilliant organizer, and even a man who ... has taught us to love Russia.
Elnar has been involved in running projects with Russia for many tens years. He was NRK correspondent in Moscow, took Norwegian journalists to Moscow to learn Russian language and Russia.
We hope that this trip was not the last. For the next year we have in store: a new course on oil and gas, political journalism and what is important, from my point of view: Practical training for Norwegian journalists in the Russian newsrooms.
If our plans come true and our colleagues spend two weeks deep into Russian media, get to know our life better, then the Norwegian audience will hopefully get new reports that represent Russia not only as an "evil empire".Elena Larionova, Barents Press project coordinator
PHOTO: Elena Larionova