Thomas Nilsen is  Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Barents Observer, which now received project funding through the municipality-owned company Sør-Varanger Utvikling Ltd. (Photo: Atle Staalesen)
Thomas Nilsen is Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Barents Observer, which now received project funding through the municipality-owned company Sør-Varanger Utvikling Ltd. (Photo: Atle Staalesen)

Wants To Distribute Barents News in Chinese


The Independent Barents Observer online newspaper is looking into the opportunity of distributing news to the Chinese market. The plans receive support from local authorities.

Sør-Varanger Utvikling, the local authorities’ business development initiative, has decided to support the newspaper’s scheduled feasibility study with NOK 210,000, according to a recent press release. The study extends from 1 March, 2018 to 28 February, 2019.

Increased interest in the North

– The opportunity for distributing online news in Chinese in a time of rapidly increasing international interest in the High North and the Arctic shall be explored. As Kirkenes and Sør-Varanger strengthen their cooperation with Chinese actors, the opportunity for creating a Chinese section at the International Barents Observer will be investigated. The foundation for producing local news of an international, including Chinese, market will be assessed through the feasibility study, according to the project application from the Independent Barents Observer.

Atle Staalesen of the Independent Barents Observer

Atle Staalesen of the Independent Barents Observer

– It all boils down to surveying, exploring and looking into the options, says Director Atle Staalesen of the International Barents Observer.

– For many years, we have published in English and Russian because that has been the relevant languages for reaching our readers. Now we are curious to see whether, perhaps with time, there have become so many interested in East Asia that it may be interesting to publish in Chinese too. We want to find out, he says.

Wants to strengthen the editorial staff

One of the newspaper’s goals is to investigate the possibilities for creating two new jobs in the area of ‘new business’.

The proposed project shall a.o. contribute to mapping relevant market actors and potential cooperation partners. The newspaper hopes that news broadcasting – in Chinese too – shall strengthen the paper as a Kirkenes-based, international news publisher and knowledge-based company.

In the fall of 2015, Thomas Nilsen (former editor-in-chief of the Barents Observer) left his former employer, the Barents Secretariat, to launch the new and independent online newspaper ‘The Independent Barents Observer’ together with colleague Atle Staalesen.

The new newspaper, which was officially created in October 2015, is organized as a limited company. It is owned by the journalists, Editor-in-Chief Thomas Nilsen and Director Atle Staalesen.

– You have been an independent newspaper for nearly two and a half years now. How are you faring?

– We are building, stone by stone, and things may not go as fast as we want. However, it is going well, it feels right and we are happy, says Staalesen.

Sør-Varanger municipality owns Sør-Varanger Utvikling Ltd., the company that has now decided to support the independent newspaper.

The main task of Sør-Varanger Utvikling Ltd., is restructuring, and the company’s vision is to act as a spearhead for the municipality and contribute to setting the agenda for developing Sør-Varanger and the Barents region.





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