Theater of Cruelty


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs receives hundreds of press inquiries every day. Who answers first?


[journalism] Is it the case that large media have better access to sources than smaller ones? Ny Tid asks press sources about priorities: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gilde and information adviser in the Oslo police, Jørn-Kristian Jørgensen. We'll call him first.

- Hello, this is from New Time. Do you have a minute?

- I'm sitting on another phone, can you call me back?

Afterwards it is busy.

Then we call Guild.

- Hi, we are making a case about media pressure and priorities…

- Yes, I know a little about that. Nina Sundqvist, Gilde's communications director, just chuckles. Gilde has had over 10.000 media reviews in connection with the E.coli case this spring, around 3500 a month, compared to the normal 250. Sundqvist claims that they have tried to treat the media equally and that everyone has received answers, both large and small.

- It irritates me that the media does not

accepted that we were in crisis. Journalists consider themselves to be of utmost importance, and expect us to pull everything we have into our hands and just serve them, she says.

At the most hectic, there were 100 phones a day. Some of the journalists were so annoyed that when Guild saw that they were the callers, they were given priority.

- Who was it then?

Sundqvist will not answer that. She just says it surprised her who it was.

Fair treatment

So the hypothesis is that the big ones will be prioritized: NRK, TV 2, Aftenposten, VG.

Media advisor and politician Tor Mikkel Wara shakes his head so we can hear it through the phone. He has worked extensively with the business community and says it is often about reaching out to his groups.

- In business, Dagens Næringsliv is much more important than VG, because they are reserved in relation to tabloid journalism. And television is a medium many feel uncomfortable with. The most important thing is not to be misunderstood. There are two factors: You want to reach the right target group, and you want a fair treatment, he says, and adds that the sources know that if you promise the media exclusivity, the ads can be greater.

- But when it really burns?

- It is of course situational. In the E.coli case, VG was most important to Gilde, in order to reach as many people as possible, says Wara.

At 12.59 we call Jørgensen in the police again.

- Can you call me in a quarter of an hour? he asks.

It is 13.15 and Jørgensen says:

- You, now I'm sitting in a meeting here…

We'll send an email so he can call when appropriate. But when it suits Jørgensen, Ny Tid is busy. Jørgensen says on the phone

the respondent that the police work must be given priority, but that they answer the press in turn and as best they can, no one favors.

Walking and talking

Anne Lene Dale Sandsten, Head of Communications in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) is in the middle of a reorganization in the Ministry. She says there are 14.000 meetings every day. She has another meeting about a quarter.

- There's a phone in each hand. Around the clock, she says.

She has let me into her office, the phone has already called three times, she has asked the room not to transfer phones to the office. Sandsten laughs when she hears Guild's number of phones.

- 100 press inquiries in one day, it is a completely normal day for us. If it detonates a bomb, we quickly reach 300, she says, and adds that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs obviously thinks it is good to have "great attention to foreign policy".

There has been a lot. There have been tsunamis and caricature drawings and internal quarrels and reorganizations and a new, popular foreign minister. If you search for "UD" in the text base A-text, you get almost 6000 articles since New Year. Sandsten says they have had a steep learning curve and that they have become very proficient in crisis communication.

- How do you prioritize?

- We try to answer everyone who calls – and to satisfy everyone. We probably prioritize more by type of interview than size of media. The Minister is more available for case interviews than so-called profile and portrait interviews.

The cell phone rings.

- Are the biggest media prioritized when time is short?

- Yes, it is clear we are working strategically to get our message out to as many people as possible. But we try to prioritize in the name of justice, she says.

- So when TV 2 has had a lot of time one day, do you prioritize NRK next time?

- Yes. I'm ihuga Kantian, I think it must be fair, yes, says Sandsten.

The cell phone rings again.

Sandsten says most journalists are professionals, that you depend on good cooperation, and that it is much easier when it is a top case at a time, because then everyone will have answers to the same questions. A colleague comes into the office.

- Now I'm out too late, again.

Sandstone smiles.

- We get to talk on the way down there. Walking and talking, that's how they do it in the President, that, heh, heh.

The ladies disappear, click, climb down the stairs.


We call Jørgensen in the police again. It is busy at 13.50, 13.54, 14.07. 14.11 the pipe is lifted.

- Yes, hello, what you have witnessed right now, that is what we are struggling with. When something happens in the city that calls for attention, it rings all the time. There is no one here who does not want to talk to the press, but we will first and foremost carry out police work, says Jørgensen.

The Eastland Broadcasting and Aftenposten call the most. When big things happen, the police even contact media who have joined a list. In addition, the news agencies NTB and ANB are called.

- NTB understands the importance of this. That some journalists do not get the angle or case they want, we can unfortunately not do anything about, says Jørgensen.

Recently he had a conversation with the media who are calling the most. He says they work to get better, using the internet, holding press briefings. In the autumn, a separate press corner will be built at the Police House.

A few days later we call to check quotes. Jørgensen would like the police to have a clear policy on the level at which they speak, all based on the area of ​​responsibility: the strategic, practical – and operational. We say we will try to get it.

- And you, just call me if there is anything, says Jørgensen.

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