Theater of Cruelty

The ideas that would not die

Radical newspaper. Editorial freedom.


It was a cramped birth. opposition magazine Orientering was created in a whirlwind of factional battles on the Norwegian left in December 1952 and January 1953. Orientering should stand between the the roaring superpowers of the Cold War, do not take a stand for the Soviet Union. Not for America. But the sample number was too one-sided, too US critical.

When the windy gang that was still standing up after the riots rushed in to the first constituent general meeting on January 28, 1953, Jacob Friis was all fired as editor and Sigurd Evensmo had agreed to take on the editorial job following pressure from Karl Evang. The newspaper should be free to criticize both power blocks, and the Communist Friis would not have been interested in it. But more importantly for the line that was to come Orientering it was that the NATO opposition in the Labor Party was denied access to the Workers' columns. So low was the ceiling for political opposition in McCarty's and Haakon Lies's time. Orientering should be an alternative. An open raw in an ice age.

Norway was full of parties that made a newspaper at this time. Orientering went the opposite way and finally made a party. It has been said that the result was most similar to a study circle with parliamentary representation, but the magazine was rather characterized by a potent mix between a fiery political engagement and a completely free editorial line. Orientering was a radical newspaper – but no external force was allowed to influence the positions. It promoted its views loudly, but was also an independent liberal debate arena. In the days of the party press, it was the exception and a forerunner of the principles on which today's editorial poster is based.

Beyond the fifties met Orientering and the circle around the newspaper hard opposition from labor party teams. The crushing silence of the Labor Party called Evensmo The silent kitten. Silence was first broken when Haakon Lie exploded and the Labor Party excluded Orienteringskretsen. What else to do other than forming your own party?

Relationship between Socialist People's Party (SF) and Orientering is in itself worth a study. In this context, it should only be mentioned that Orientering never became a party organ. Editor Evensmo always insisted on clear lines and full control over editorial dispositions. Here's how Orientering in a new phase the balance between political profile and editorial freedom, a prerequisite for good critical journalism. Other newspapers faced the identity crisis decades later.

Since then, the authoritarian tendencies in SF's youth department were settled with what would later become AKP-ml. But what seriously set the minds of the gradually tanned newspapers in OrienteringThe step was the formation of the Socialist Left Party in 1975 Orientering in and the party organ Ny Tid saw the light of day. It was an embittered group of veterans from the first decades who met for a beer at Sigurd Evensmo's cabin in Geilo in the summer of this year. After 22 years as a critical corrective to a one-sided Norwegian press, especially in foreign affairs, became Orientering "Busy" in Ny Tid and only parts of the tradition could live on. Then Orientering published his last issue, it was on August 13, 1975, the following words adorned the front page: "But the ideas will not die". Orientering was history, but the ideas of a liberal radicalism lived on.

In connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of Orientering in 2003, Ny Tid wrote that the newspaper in the first decade was a free university that educates knowledgeable radical troublemakers. The newspaper will continue to be – even if a new general meeting on a new January day should decide that the magazine gets new owners and regains its completely independent position.

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