Media and the Baneheia case

October 10 2023

The Norwegian Press Association and Fritt Ord present a comprehensive report on the media coverage of the Baneheia case.

The report contains three independent studies and analyses, as well as multiple points for discussions in newsrooms and in public discourse.
“We believe it is important to take a critical look at the media coverage of this case through different periods of time. Given that Viggo Kristiansen was acquitted after being wrongly imprisoned for a very long time, the media must conduct a thorough review of their own role. We hope this report will be an important contribution to doing just that," states Elin Floberghagen, secretary general of the Norwegian Press Association.
“Cultivating criticism and self-criticism are prerequisites for the media to be trusted by the public. That is why it is crucial at this juncture to make an internal as well as an external examination of the very special story at the heart of more than 20 years of Baneheia coverage – to learn from it and prevent something similar from happening again," maintains Knut Olav Åmås, executive director of the Fritt Ord Foundation.

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The release of Viggo Kristiansen from Ila Prison in Bærum, June 2021. His father, Svein Kristiansen, arrives to pick up his son after the Supreme Court vacated the conviction of Viggo Kristiansen in the Baneheia case, allowing him to be released. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB

The report consists of three main chapters:

• A quantitative content analysis of roughly 3 000 articles across eight media outlets. This was carried out by Retriever, a media analysis agency.
• A survey of relevant media on their coverage, use of sources and editorial assessments. This was carried out by a group of journalists and editors, led by Arne Jensen of the Association of Norwegian Editors.
• A researcher analysis of the media coverage, based on the insights gleaned from chapters 1 and 2, as well as qualitative interviews with members of the press, lawyers and those who supported Viggo Kristiansen. This was performed by Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Social Research.

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Arne Jensen of the Norwegian Press Association presents the findings from the report.
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Knut Olav Åmås of Fritt Ord and Elin Floberghagen of the Norwegian Press Association open the seminar. Photo from the seminar: Henrik Pryser Libell
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Eivind Ljøstad (Fædrelandsvennen), Per Arne Kalbakk (NRK), Kelly Lillesund (formerly Discovery) and Kenneth Fossheim (TV 2) engage in discussion during the seminar.
What has the media learned? Einar Tho (Haugesunds Avis), Eivind Ljøstad (Fædrelandsvennen), Karianne Solbrække (TV 2) and Tora Bakke Håndlykken (VG) engaged in discussion.
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VG editor-in-chief Gard Steiro shows VG's poster about the ethics of reporting on criminal cases – in the light of the lessons that VG and other media can learn from the Baneheia coverage.


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Norway's first journal about narratives. Reports, investigative journalism and new grants for journalism

December 5 2023

“Those of us who do not live in cities also deserve access to rich public discourse,” says Tora Hope, editor of Jaja, a new journal about narratives based in the village of Fjaler in western Norway. The student newspaper Universitas has received funding to examine the situation for freedom of expression at educational institutions, and photojournalist Nora Savosnick has been on a reporting trip to Israel and Palestine. See the new grants for journalism (list in Norwegian only).

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Freedom of Expression and the War in Gaza

November 27 2023

The Fritt Ord Foundation, Masahat for Arab Culture in Exile, and Vega Scene cordially invite the public to a conversation on Wednesday, 29 November 2023 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Vega Scene in Hausmanns gate 30, Oslo.

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How to avoid deadlocked debates in permanent culture wars.

November 16 2023

“It takes differences of opinion to have a debate. When the stakes are high, discussions pick up momentum, but a high level of conflict combined with an irreconcilable tone raises concerns about democracy per se,” says author and social geographer Anja Sletteland, who has earned a PhD in ‘deadlocked debates’. The controversy surrounding the NRK programme Brainwash got her interested in debates ‘that go bananas’, and in cancellations. Now she is writing a book about why this happens and how to avoid sliding into perpetual trench warfare, where no one listens to each other. See the grants that Fritt Ord awarded in October (list in Norwegian only).

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Open debate and discussion: Male roles in Muslim communities

November 6 2023

Fritt Ord’s project ‘Islam in Norway’ invites the public to an open debate and discussion on male roles in Muslim communities, with a special focus on the situation of boys. The event will be held on Thursday, 9 November 2023, from 6 to 7.30 p.m. in ‘Skramsalen’ at the House of Literature, Wergelandsveien 29, Oslo.