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4. mai 2023

Protecting press freedom in a changing world

This is the appeal Ole Jacob Sunde delivered during the World Press Freedom Day event in Oslo on May 3rd.

In 1936 a new journal was launched in Norway. It was called the Way Forward (Veien videre). Today, this paper is not well known, but the editor is: Nordahl Grieg.

He was best known as an author but also a journalist fighting for a just society built on press freedom. The example he and many of his contemporaries set in the 1930s and 40s is still relevant.

We all know a democracy will suffer without access to reliable information to make informed decisions.

In Norway and most nations in Europe, we still enjoy press freedom, but the truth is that the number of independent, well-resourced news outlets is shrinking. Press freedom is not worth much if you do not have a diverse, vibrant press.

I am worried because politicians, business leaders and the public at large take both press freedom and a vibrant press for granted.

The vast majority do not worry about an abrupt repression of press freedom. What they do not comprehend is the methodical erosion of press freedom which is taking place.

I have an uncomfortable feeling that we are being cooked slowly and abide the rising temperature.

The fighting spirit of the generation before us, those we commemorate today, should be our guiding star.

Grieg disdained the liberals of his time, who were sympathetic to the fight for freedom but content with the status quo. And he despised those who were indifferent or thought that their voice did not matter.

A line in one of Grieg’s poems expresses this well:

Fei vekk et ord: Forgjeves. Brush aside one word: futile.

Fighting for press freedom is as relevant today as in the 1930s when this line was written. Let that be our Way Forward.

Photo credit: Jon Wessel-Aas

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