The Independent Barents Observer
With a devotion for cross-border journalism, dialogue and mutual understanding, the Barents Observer provides daily news reports from and about Scandinavia, Russia and the Circumpolar Arctic.
Our dedicated and experienced team of reporters produces news and multi-media contents with reach for global audiences interested in Arctic issues. We follow the key trends and developments in topics like climate change, energy and industry, shipping, civil society, borders, politics, ecology, national security and indigenous peoples issues.
The Barents Observer is a journalistic product following the principles of the Norwegian Rights and Duties of the Editor.
Our core values are freedom of speech and support for democracy. By providing impartial information and opinions across the borders of the Arctic and the Barents Region, we serve local societies, support regional development and promote international cooperation.
The Independent Barents Observer is a non-profit stock company fully own by the reporters. No regional or national authority have owner interests in the company, nor influence on the newsmaking. The newsdesk is located in Kirkenes, the Norwegian Arctic town located just few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland.
The Independent Barents Observer publishes in English and Russian.
The Barents Observer is funded by donations from many individuals, private companies, foundations and others. The Foundation Fritt Ord has granted project support, Innovation Norway and Sør-Varanger kommune have both given a business start-up grant, Henriksen Shipping provides partner grants and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has finacially supported the publication of the Russian language portal. The Nordic Council of Ministers supports our project Eyes on Barents, the collaborative partnership between news organizations and bloggers in the Barents region.
The Barents Observer takes the pulse on regional mass media and in 2017 published the report “Journalism in the Borderland. Barents Media Freedom 2017”. In 2016, it published the report “Barents Observer - Prosessen” (in Norwegian), the story about how Norwegian regional politicians tried to halt the editorial freedom of the only Norwegian online newspaper published in Russian.
The Barents Observer was started by Atle Staalesen in 2002 as a private initative based on the need for increased flow of cross-border knowledge in the Barents Region. The news site has since the start been bi-lingual English-Russian. In the period 2005 to 2015, the editorial desk of Barents Observer shared office and the reporters were employees of the Norwegian Barents secretariat. That secretariat was owned by the northernmost counties and in 2015 the board of the secretariat decided to remove the editorial freedom of the newspaper. Simultaneously as the secretariat tried to stop the editorial rights, Russia’s secret police, the FSB, asked Norwegian officials to close down Barents Observer.
Naturally, it was unaceptable for Barents Observer not to follow basic principles of free journalism and the reporters moved out, added ‘Independent’ to the name and re-launched the newsdesk as a journalists owned media.
The 2008-2015 archive of BarentsObserver.com was by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat shut down on June 6th, 2018 - the same day as the secretariat and the county officials from Nordland, Troms and Finnmark “celebrated” 25-years of Barents cooperation. An archive-version, though without the correct URLs and badly searchable, is online via wayback.archive.it. Sad that this important historical archive is on purpose made so little available for world-wide public and especially the seekers of the Barents history in Russian and English languages. The secretariat still holds the domain name ‘barentsobserver.com’ hostage.