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September 2007
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A big news day in Norway

An American finds himself in Norway on one of those unbeatable news days:

Today, there was a hot story out of Norway. During my three-hour presentation, he [Carl-Erik Grimstad] received 15 voice mails from journalists asking him to comment on the latest screwup by the royal princess Martha Louise.

Seems Martha is young, pretty, vivacious, quick to share her views, but unfortunately handicapped by a gene pool that has weakened over time. She is not too bright.

Yesterday, in a visit to Sweden, she told reporters that women have achieved equality in the workplace in Norway, get paid as much as men and that the feminist movement is, apparently, no longer needed.

The women of Norway who fight a many-layered glass ceiling and who make far less than their male counterparts, went crazy and the princess was the target of venomous attacks this morning. Carl-Erik was being asked to comment...

...Now, as an American, I had to laugh at this. Our forefathers ceded to us a democratic republic. We elect our leaders. As a result, we never put in power stubborn, ill-informed, hereditary figureheads from weakened gene pools who ignore the advice of lawmakers, turn a blind eye to the country's political mandates, show insensitivity to social and cultural divides and who say dumb things while visiting foreign countries. This is why our country is better than Norway.

I'll be the first to admit that this is a weird country, and it's always ... interesting ... to see what people take away from it. Especially seeing how Norwegians are prone to see the country and its capabilities in a rather glorified light... The presentation mentioned in the above quote was certainly light years away from the Norwegian media reality, but tremendously interesting, so hope get back to it in more detail later...

How to make a fool of yourself at a press conference

You arrive more than legally late due to practical problems and just want to sneak in quietly and find a seat somewhere in the back without anyone noticing. Yet, once you arrive, you end up basking wildly in the air, unable to control your movements, for several seconds. Finally on ground, you miss your chosen chair and almost sit down in someones lap.

Yes, I was in Second Life (SL), and it was all because the software was so slow to respond to my instructions after I'd spent ages downloading the latest updates (which crashed once or twice, hence my late arrival in the first place. And I'm far from blaming SL as such, my internet connection is volatile and just suffered a major internet blackout the day before).

But since this was the first Norwegian press conference in Second Life, for the launch of Kamimo, the virtual campus of Molde University College, and partners University of Kalmar and Central University of Missouri, there was a story even in the failure of some journalists to handle this environment (some didn't even take the trouble of creating their own avatars, just followed the launch safe behind the computer screens of more SL savy folks, while I was out there making a fool of myself).

I certainly let myself down here, big time. Particularly since I've navigated SL well enough for interviews, seminars and launches on previous occasions. Next time I'll make sure to check for SL updates before the day starts, or at least two hours before the event.

My avatar, lost in dark thoughts

Who wants to write for newspapers when you can earn more delivering them?

I guess the answer is obvious: if we were in it for the money, most of us would be in a different trade. Still, it is rather worrying when you can earn more delivering newspapers than cranking out the copy that makes them worthwhile reading.

In Norway, the best paid newspaper delivery folks at Aftenposten, earn about £65 – 75K – that's much more than your average journalist in this country. Apparently you have to work hard for that money, but even in a normal full time job you earn about £30 – 35K delivering morning and afternoon editions of the paper– still more than what many a journalist can bring home each year.

The demand for newspaper delivery folks here up north has become such that, not only has the editor-in-chief of Tönsbergs Blad succumbed to delivering the newspaper himself, but Edda Media, Mecom's Norwegian arm, is contemplating offering free company cars and Saturdays off – in addition to setting up its own recruitment firm in Latvia (via Dagens Medier).

When I want to hedge against late and unpredictable payments from media organisations, I normally translate and copy edit manuscripts, but newspaper delivery – perhaps that's something to consider...