Rant: Idiot government overlords win as Barents Observer ceases publication, editorial staff quits


Someday this sorry fishwrapper will cease to exist. God willing, it won’t be because of the utter hell another vital source of local news has fought against – and apparently lost – during the past few months.

BarentsObserver (yeah, we’re never quite sure if it’s supposed to be one word or two, but we’ll go with their website usage for now), has officially ceased publication and its entire editorial staff has quit because some Norwegian government folks have decided the online newspaper should be a propoganda puppet. We and pretty much every other media entity in Norway (plus plenty of folks in Russia, which should definitely tell you something) have denounced the recent developments, but obviously things have done nothing but get worse during that time.

BarentsObserver, published in English and Russian for the past 13 years, has been in turmoil since May when the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, consisting of government officials in Norway’s three northernmost counties, voted to strip the newspaper of its right to publish without censorship. The owners then fired longtime editor Thomas Nilsen in September, but rescinded the decision earlier this month.

A notice posted this week at the newspaper’s website announced it will no longer be updated.

“Following a conflict between the editorial staff of BarentsObserver and the owners of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the reporters of the BarentsObserver have chosen to resign from their positions,” the notice states. “All articles on BarentsObserver are now closed for comments.”

In a larger sense we’re used to seeing much-loved media sources die or diluted to the point of absurdity, one of the oh-so-many reasons we’re committed to keeping this stinky fishwrapper alive as long as possible even if it means sleeping in our editor’s car and getting our daily bread from the crusts left in the bread-slicing machine at the supermarket. But the death of BarentsObserver was a needless and foolish event by a group of government officials who seem to think they can simply publish more “patriotic” news and the ignornant sheep on both sides of the border will nod along in agreement.