BY EKATERIA MAKHNO, STUDENT AT LOBACHEVSKY STATE UNIVERSITY.
Nowadays a lot of countries have already crossed the line of fatal problems such as hunger, poverty, etc. So they have turned their attention to other human problems, such as freedom of choice, including the freedom of speech. Norway fortunately is one of these countries. Everyone knows that Norway is a country of freedom. But how big is this freedom when we talk about freedom of speech? Are there any restrictions and frames? And can the total freedom be harmful?
If you talk to any journalist in Norway, he probably will be very proud of the fact that the freedom of speech is not just a word. This is a foundation of all journalism. To learn more about journalism and freedom of speech in Norway, we have talked with Nikolay Woldsdal, twenty three-years old student of journalism at the Volda University College.
First of all we were interested in whether there are any forbidden topics in the media. And here is the answer: “No. In the Norwegian media have absolutely no officially taboo topics.” We also learned that even the most awkward and sensitive issues are raised in the media, but journalists do it with great care so as not to hurt the feelings of the readers. For example, when it comes to tragedies, suicides, etc. They discuss these topics in the media, because they are very important for the whole society, but do not allow yourself to do or say anything that might hurt someone. Such a behavior is spelled out in the Code of journalistic ethics. It is not the law, but for some reason all the journalists followed him. Perhaps, it is because the Code speaks not only about professional qualities, but also the moral principles of any good man. For example, it is forbidden to provide the way of committing suicide. And it is quite understandable, because in this way a journalist protects friends of the victims from harm. Sometimes, if you have the opportunity to sprak, it does not mean that it is necessary to speak.
But the logical question appeared, whether the Norwegian media had ever defended their right to speak or not to speak any information. Nikolay told us an interesting and controversial story. It turns out that the media in Norway have repeatedly refused to disclose the source of information to police. Sometimes the court upheld the police`s decision, and the media had to pay fines. Sometimes, on the contrary, the court recognized the right of the media. However, the result is always the same. Source of information is never disclosed even to the police. On the one hand, this fact clearly shows us how media in Norway is independent from the state and government. But then the question arises. What is more important – independence or tranquility of citizens? Because if the police needs this information, it means that it is very important. Did not two such institutions as journalism and police work together to ensure the society live as best as possible? And even more, specialist from one of the largest media corporations in Norway, NRK, told us about the details of the media and the police relations. We all remember the terrible tragedy of 22 July 2011 when Anders Breivik bombed central Oslo and attacked the youth camp of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party. At the time when there was shooting on the island of Utøya, NRK were filming this from helicopters. Police asked for this survey. However, the company refused to give it. They said that the police get this record together with other citizens, when it is broadcasted.
Of course, there are pros and cons in such decisions. On the one hand, in such way the media have braked police investigation. But on the other hand, they defend their right to independence from state authorities; to manage their own materials as they want. For example, they could never broadcast record in order to protect the feelings of the victims’ relatives. So we can see that the media in Norway are completely independent from the desire of the authorities or the police. We also found that on television is prohibited to carry out election campaign. This once again shows the relationship between the state and the media.
Norwegian Union of Journalists is there to provide the best work of journalists and the protection of their rights. Trond Idas from the Norwegian Union of Journalists told us about some aspects of work of the Union. This organization plays an important role in the activities of every journalist. 90 percent of all journalists in Norway are member of the Union. The membership fee is 1.6 percent of the annual salary. Student fee is 10 percent of the average fee. It is very important that the union of journalists taking part in the discussion of the collective agreement. At the national level, it regulates the rules of the game for the employers and the union. This is especially important for freelancers who do not have an employment contract. The union helps them solve the various problems with employers. It is very important that the NJ is entitled to comment law proposals and other regulations of the media sector.
Moreover, journalists in the union receive not only help in dealing with employers, but various workshops about working methods, ethics and investigating journalism. Journalists Union also attaches great importance to the rights of the author. For example, the employer has to pay extra if he wants to use the articles or photos in other ways than what was originally agreed on. Most of the copy clearance earnings are administered by the Union. We see the great importance played by the Union of Journalists in any publication and journalist. But surely it is a merit of the union members who were achieving this for many years. It is known that in many other countries, the Union of Journalists is more like a small circle of interests. But not in Norway.
In summary we can say that journalism in Norway is very different from journalism in any other country. This is absolutely normal, because each country has its own history and own mentality. In addition, there is also a history of journalism itself.
Another distinctive feature of journalism in Norway are the students of journalism. When communicating with them, it was striking that all the students very much want to devote their whole life to journalism. Elsewhere, however, it often happens that students choose this destination unconscious, and in a couple of years to understand they do not want to be a journalist. If Norway has such advertising profession of journalism it is a very good advertising because we see a real desire to be a journalist. When you talk with Norwegian students of journalism, you feel that you communicate with the future professionals. They ask you tough questions. You immediately realize that they can then use it in their articles. This is a very good quality. And a very big plus has Norwegian education system. Because even in their spare time, journalism students think of their work, looking for resources.
When we talk about journalism, is impossible not to mention the fact that the universities have a very good technical equipment. It is very important to the students during the training to get used to work with different techniques, in part because this is the their job. In Norway, there are all conditions for this. This is very important.
Also in the training of journalists should mention the important fact, as teachers communicate with their students. Virtually no hierarchical relationship, which is very beneficial for the future journalist. Because journalists need to feel comfortable in any situation, even the president, and taught at the University of precisely this communication.
All of the above combine to create a very favorable environment journalist. Absolutely all of the power relations and the organization of the union of journalists to training aims to journalist feel comfortable and protected, and therefore create good stuff. After all, only a confident and calm person can sensibly pass information to other people. There is always something to strive for, because total freedom is not very good. But one thing is certain – a total ban is much worse. It can be concluded that journalism in Norway has very high level. And journalists from any other country can learn a lot. Firstly as a journalist is to reorganize work in organizational level. To do this, again, is to follow the example of Norwegian journalists and take matters into their own hands. After all, civil society organizations can make a difference. In this sense, freedom is necessary. Freedom of thought. Freedom of speech. Free rein.