Gopika Nair ’18 visits Norway as part of The OWU Connection to study why the Scandinavian country ranked No. 1 in 2017 in the World Press Freedom Index. (Photo courtesy of Gopika Nair)

News in Norway

OWU Journalism Major Visits Oslo to Explore Freedom of Press Issues

By Ohio Wesleyan University

Name: Gopika Nair ’18
Major: Journalism
Minor: Theatre
Hometown: Dubai, UAE
Experience: OWU Connection Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Freedom of Press: What the U.S. Can Learn from Norwegian Media”

Nair traveled to Oslo, Norway, for a week during spring break to investigate the factors that led to Norway having the highest press freedom in the world in 2017. Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit organization that promotes and defends freedom of the press, began publishing the World Press Freedom Index in 2002. Since then, Norway has consistently maintained a high ranking. By contrast, the United States has shown several fluctuations depending on the number of press freedom violations. For her research, Nair interviewed Norwegian journalists, media directors, broadcasters, and lawyers specializing in media law.

Lessons learned: “Traveling to Oslo and having the opportunity to meet and talk to seasoned journalists and advocates for press freedom was an incredible experience. Because I took Media Law (JOUR 370) during my junior year, I had sufficient knowledge about the laws regarding press freedom in the U.S., and I was able to employ that knowledge to frame questions for my interviews regarding the freedom of press in Norway.

“Academically, I gained further insight into the role of the news media in Norway as well as other Nordic countries such as Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.

“I learned that one of the major reasons why Norway has a high freedom of press is because of an act relating to editorial freedom that was passed in 2009. According to the act, the editors-in-chief of all media organizations have complete control over editorial matters and the owners of those organizations cannot intervene or demand to know the content before it’s made publicly accessible.           

“Professionally, this trip cemented my love for journalism and further established my desire to go into this field. Hearing other journalists talk about their profession and the work they had done throughout their careers as well as learning about the differences between the U.S. and Norwegian media were highlights.

“Being given the chance to learn more about the role of the press in a country other than the U.S. was fascinating. From what I gathered, the Norwegian news media, both broadcast and print, strive to be as unbiased and objective as possible and there aren’t many news outlets that are open about their political leanings.           

“Finally, orienting myself in an unfamiliar place alone was instrumental to my personal growth. Oslo is also home to the Edvard Munch Museum, the Nobel Peace Center, the Vigeland Museum, and the Viking Ship Museum, among others. Having the chance to visit these places taught me a lot about Norway’s history, culture, and art.

“One of my favorite museums I visited was the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, which featured Munch’s “The Scream” and works by renowned Norwegian and international painters, including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Gauguin.”

Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan: “I wanted to attend a liberal arts college so I had the chance to learn a variety of subjects instead of being confined to only taking classes within my major. Some of the schools I considered also didn’t have a journalism program.”

My plans after graduation: “I don’t have any concrete plans, but, ideally, I’d like to work as a reporter. Ending up in Norway again would be a plus.”