The Fritt Ord Foundation turns 48!

June 7 2022

The Fritt Ord Foundation was founded on 7 June 1974. Many are not aware of the fact that Fritt Ord originated with the Narvesen chain of kiosks.

Most people probably think of Narvesen as a place to buy a quick snack while on the move, but in the post-World War II era, the Narvesen Kioskkompani was Norway’s only open distribution channel for newspapers and journals. The initiative to establish the Fritt Ord foundation was taken by Narvesen’s Managing Director Jens Henrik Nordlie, Deputy Managing Director Finn Skedsmo and Supreme Court Advocate Jens Christian Hauge, all three of whom were veterans of World War II. The occupation of Norway, including strict political regimentation and a ban on the expression of all independent opinions, was a sharp reminder that a democracy cannot survive without freedom of expression. This freedom was contingent not only on everyone being able to write and say what they pleased, but also on contributions to the social debate actually reaching the people of Norway.

To ensure open distribution of newspapers and journals to the general public on a permanent basis and to better protect freedom of expression, the Narvesen executives resolved to establish the foundation under the Norwegian name ‘Institusjonen Fritt Ord’ (the Freedom of Expression Foundation, Oslo) on 7 June 1974. The foundation assumed control of all the shares in the Narvesen company for the purpose of safeguarding the company’s independence as an accountable owner. On the same date, the Narvesen company merged with Norsk Spisevognselskap, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Norwegian State Railways (NSB).

From the very beginning, the activities of the Freedom of Expression Foundation (Fritt Ord) were linked to initiatives such as supporting the newly established Norwegian Institute of Journalism, a grants programme designed to stimulate the exploration of issues related to freedom of expression and, not least, the Freedom of Expression Foundation Prize.

As time passed and the Internet created new opportunities for expression and distribution, and as the multi-cultural media society raised new questions about the conditions for freedom of expression, Fritt Ord decided to gradually sever its close ties to Narvesen. The bond between Fritt Ord and Narvesen came to an end when Fritt Ord sold its last shares in Narvesen in 2001.

Fritt Ord will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024. This will be commemorated, among other events, by the publication of a critical, independent book on the foundation’s history from the time it was founded in 1974 and up to the present. The book is being written by Hilde Gunn Slottemo, a professor of History at Nord University. In addition to the Fritt Ord Foundation’s history, the book will address and reflect Norwegian and international societal trends during the same five decades.



In Oslo for discussions across the dividing lines of the war

December 5 2022

Journalists, writers, film-makers, artists, cultural critics and other cultural personalities will be meeting in Oslo for discussions and conversations to explore questions related to exile, colonialism, conflict and cooperation – across the dividing lines of war.

Skjermbilde 2022 11 23 kl. 02.49.22

A TV documentary about Shabana. New Fritt Ord grants in October

November 27 2022

Fritt Ord’s list of ordinary allocations in October for more than NOK 100 000 has been updated to include grants for a wide variety of different projects, including a documentary series about Shabana Rehman.

23 juli 2011

Survey of media coverage from 2011 to 2022 of the terrorist acts committed on 22 July 2011

October 26 2022

For the first time, a systematic analysis has been made of 11 years of media coverage on the acts of terror committed on 22 July 2011.
Nearly 500 000 newspaper articles have been published about the right-wing extremist acts of terror from the time they were committed until the summer of 2022.

Andriy dubchak

Ukrainian journalists, photographers and media to receive five Free Media Awards for 2022 from the Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT-Stiftung

August 19 2022

Photographers, videographers, journalists, war correspondents and media in Ukraine are risking their lives to cover Russia’s brutal war of aggression in their country. This year, all five of the Free Media Awards’ Press Prizes are destined for Ukrainian photographers, journalists and media in recognition of their efforts to document the suffering and the challenges that Ukrainian people are facing due to hostile destruction and war crimes committed by Russian troops. The journalism being produced under extremely trying circumstances is of exceptional quality.