Monday, October 8, 2012

Viking Chats With Journalist Nina Berglund

The October issue of Viking featured an excerpted interview with California-born journalist Nina Berglund. She had plenty to say that didn't fit in the magazine about her English news site, "Views and News from Norway," and working as a journalist in Norway. Read on for the whole conversation with Viking's associate editor Anya Britzius.

Viking: After establishing your journalism career in the United States, what prompted you to move to Oslo?
Nina Berglund: I came to Oslo with a Norwegian husband at the time, wound up on my own here a year later, but stayed because I fortunately had landed a great job as an editor at one of the English-language sister papers to Oslo-based business daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN). I married DN's foreign editor in 1995, Morten Møst, and he's another wonderful incentive to stick around! He's been an enormous source of support and encouragement during the three years I've been running

V: What are some of the biggest differences you've seen between being a reporter in the United States and in Norway?
NB: I think reporters here are more restrained than in the United States, sharp and thorough, but more considerate. I came from a real bulldog-type, aggressive journalistic culture and found the newsrooms so much quieter here. There's more consensus and less confrontation.

V: "Views and News from Norway" is a great resource for English-speakers to keep tabs on the news of Norway. How did you get the idea, and what are your goals with the site?
NB: My main goal for the site is simply to keep it going! I sorely missed a source of Norwegian news in English when I first arrived in Oslo and didn't have a clue what was going on around me. I'm a news junkie and felt there was a hole in the market that I finally got a chance to fill when I was hired by newspaper Aftenposten in 1999 to work on its then-new website. I helped build up an English news service for, but Aftenposten unfortunately shut it down in 2008 to cut costs when the media crisis first hit. I launched "Views and News from Norway" on my own in an effort to carry on where Aftenposten left off. It's a huge challenge. Advertising is hard to come by, very few readers hit the "Donate" button and it's hard protecting our content from those who copy and paste it into their site or newsletters, with no permission from or compensation to us. So the business aspects of running the site are much tougher than producing the news.

V: What kinds of stories are you most passionate about?
NB: Probably how Norway has developed into being such a strong and wealthy country, way out of proportion to its size. It's fascinating to watch the endless stream of world leaders and celebrities showing up in Norway these days, clearly attracted by energy resources or Norway's strong economy at a time when so many other countries are in crisis. It's one thing to have oil, but Norway's management of its oil wealth is worth a lot of attention. I'm fascinated by national politics, the social welfare system here, foreign policy, also immigration and integration issues that are a concern for all foreigners here in Norway. Stories about the royals also tend to be popular with readers.

V: What are some of the biggest stories from the past year that stand out in your mind?
NB: Without question the terrorist attacks of July 22, and the agonizing 10-week trial of Norway's homegrown right-wing terrorist who hasn't backed down from his anti-Islamic campaign or shown any regret. It's been a national nightmare. The freeze in diplomatic relations between Norway and China, since the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, has been a drama of another kind. The importance of the Norwegian Arctic, not least the issues involving oil and gas exploration in environmentally sensitive areas, is a constant source of stories. The pace of news in general has been relentless the past year.

V: What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any favorite places in Norway?
NB: I try to at least take Saturdays off, and then we head for the hills and forests surrounding Oslo. It's so accessible, so user-friendly, so beautiful and quiet, and the perfect antidote to a week of website stress. We ski in the winter and hike in the summer. When I finally was granted permanent residence permission here, I bought a hytte (cottage) in northern Nordmarka and it's our great escape. Oslo itself has really blossomed since I first moved here, so there's no end to the museums, restaurants and other sources of urban fun, although it's pricey. Norway has so many gorgeous places that it's impossible to pick out a favorite, but the wide-open spaces in and around Rondane rank high. Website demands have kept me a lot more bound to Oslo than I used to be, but I love sharing Norway's news and hope I can keep doing so.

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