Investigation journalism – Norwegian style

Heather Brooke and Julian Assange speaking at SKUP

I attended the Norwegian SKUP conference of investigative journalists this past weekend. There were about 560 journalists from all across Norway in attendance plus a handful of international speakers including myself, the Guardian’s investigations editor David Leigh and one of the founders of Wikileaks: Julian Assange.

I was blown away by the sheer number of journalists in attendance as I’ve never been to a UK conference with anything close to this number of journalists. In Scandinavia the tradition is for reporters to cooperate and share knowledge. In the UK we are still getting over the hyper-competition of Fleet Street where journalists tend to view each other with suspicion and the instinct is keep knowledge to oneself. While this has some advantages, in the current climate it makes more sense for journalists to band together, particularly when it comes to common interests such as libel, freedom of expression and freedom of information.

Most of the talks were in Norwegian so I can’t offer much enlightenment on them though I did hear about some amazing journalists: one of whom was exposing his ninth miscarriage of justice, another wrote a book about Norway’s most famous bank robbery.

The speaker who impressed me the most was Julian Assange. I tweeted quite a lot from his session (@newsbrooke) but one thing he said struck me: that despite releasing primary source material to anyone and everyone via Wikileaks – the biggest scandals didn’t become stories until written about by an experienced journalist at a mainstream newspaper. He cited the release of a leaked US military manual in relation to Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo abuses along with a few others. An army of citizen journalists didn’t know what to do with this and passed it by. It was only the experienced reporters at big media institutions who wrote about it and made it a story.

It seems there is hope for the traditional Press after all.

2 Responses to “Investigation journalism – Norwegian style”

  1. Harbour Boards.
    Tomorrow,(25th March2010) Mr Colin Hitchcock,has his appeal against his dismissal for doing his job.
    This is held at the Littlehampton Harbour board at 9.30am.
    See Littlehampton Gazette.
    In your book ,I note that Harbour Boards,do not fall into FOI act.
    This case is more than interesting!!

  2. He lost his appeal(as expected) but he will take this as far or or as high as it takes.There is no PIDA as of todays date.

Leave a Reply