"You don't often hear the chairman of a new British newspaper publisher begin his launch press conference by saying how inspirational things are in Norway," Peter Preston writes in today's Observer.
He's writing about former Mecom-boss David Montgomery's newest media venture, regional newspaper group Local World, and it must be said it's far from the first time Montgomery has praised online developement in the Norwegian media market.
And rightly so, while Montgomery was in charge of Mecom, the company's Norwegian arm, Edda Media, was top of the class within the pan-European company both in terms of online product development and of earning money online.
My recent visit to the US for the Online News Association (ONA's) annual conference also brought home to me to how well Norwegian media (Schibsted, Edda, A-pressen etc) measure up, even compared to international media, when it comes to online journalism and innovation. But then it must also be said that as the founder and former president of the Norwegian Online News Association (NONA), where I'm still on the board, I may of course be somewhat biased.
A more interesting question is perhaps how well the ideas Montgomery bring with him from his time in Mecom, so controversial among Norwegian journalists, will go down with UK journalists.
Preston describes the gist of it as re-modelling local newspapers as "a one-stop shop for content and commerce".
That sounds very much like something along the line of what Montgomery described more in detail in this debate arranged by the Norwegian Union of Journalists (NJ) here (see the text below the subtitle "Newspapers to sell lingerie and wine). Or are we past that debate about knocking down the walls separating editorial and advertisement by now?
In either case, here's a few perspectives on Local World I found in my newsreader (amazingly my Icerocket search on Mecom still works, I'm so used to useful free online services being bought up or shut down by now):
- David Hellier: Montgomery finally gets chance to prove his worth
- Rick Ducey: Local World: Oxymoron or Success Formula
- David Worlock: Monty's flagging circus
- Robert Andrews: Three-way-tie-up promises to re-invent local news