The Barents Observer values freedom of speech and support for democracy
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 Barents Observer is funded by donations from many individuals, private companies, foundations and others. A grant from European Endowment for Democracy makes it possible for us to publish all news in Russian language for our thousands of readers in Russia. Despite Kremlin’s censorship authorities, the Roskomnadzor, tries its best to block the Barents Observer from the Russian internet, we still manage break through. The Foundation Fritt Ord has granted project support, Henriksen Shipping provides partner support. 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 2019 published the report “Free Media on the Scaffold”. In 2017, it issued the “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 secretariat still holds the domain name ‘barentsobserver.com’ hostage and is unwilling to share the article-archive for the period 2008-2015.