“I do not care about payment and working hours, what is important to me is the meaningful task of journalism”

Vegard Velle (49) is a journalist, author and editor in chief for a newly founded newspaper in Norway called VårtOslo. He is an ambitious idealist whose main goal is to give good quality journalism to the local residents of Oslo.

By Anette Svendsen

What were your expectations when you first started working as a journalist?

I wanted to be tossed into new cases and situations, gain insight, meet new people and work and write new stories as quickly as possible. It was important for me to be able to engage in big and important cases and be able to be independent and critical of the people in power. I do not care about payment and working-hours, what is important to me is the meaningful task of journalism.

How is your work affected by the struggle to finance good journalism?

When it comes to financing, Norwegian media has the most recent years been a lot better at getting subscriptions, so that gives us a bit more economic freedom. I think it is also healthy for people to understand that making good and trustworthy journalism actually costs money. That way they will demand good journalism, and we will work hard to meet their demands.

Vegard and his employees at the newspaper, photo: Medier24

These last couple of years the media has had some trouble with their credibility. How can you as a journalist address this mistrust?

When it comes to credibility, I think Norwegian media is on the right track. There is a lot of good and trustworthy journalism. But I think it is important that we keep asking ourselves what we are really doing, and who we are doing it for. What is our purpose? We are said to be the fourth state power, but what does this mean? I think we could also work on being more open about our role in society, our fallibility and the ethical dilemmas that we face. I think we are still too smug and infallible, and we should be better at communicating properly with our readers.

As an editor for a newly founded newspaper, what do you think will be the biggest challenges for the newspaper in the future?

The biggest challenge is definitely the financing. And there are always a lot of ethical considerations we need to consider, and it is especially important that we act wisely and considerate in regard to our readers. There are also some technological challenges. We are now in a new era of robot journalism, and personalized media and tailored distribution of ads. This requires expensive expertise, and a small newspaper will not be able to develop solutions on our own, but we will have to lean on the bigger participants.