Just a quick update, to counterbalance the effects of summer laziness and sweltering heat – Oslo has been hotter than Mumbai in recent days.
News has been thin on the ground lately, the death of Michael Jackson pushing everything off the map. Leading tabloid/Norway’s bestselling newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) had an amazing concentration of stories on their web site; at one point it was difficult to find anything else to read about, even with them condensing links to over half a dozen Jackson stories in their top item. Other national dailies were slightly less obsessed, but on the whole it was an embarrassing exercise in extracting the most far-fetched connections to the story, preferably with an obscure Norwegian link.
On the subject of new media and (new) journalism, a very interesting development on the Twitter front in Norway, especially if you can read the language. Today a major story – the re-arrest of Arfan Bhatti, who featured in a high profile anti-terrorism trial in Norway – was broken on Twitter by the PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) the Norwegian Police Security Service.
Their Twitter account is @PSTnorge and from their output today it would appear that they also fielded questions about the arrest, which means this should become a normal news channel. The PST has been using Twitter since March.
Today was a brilliant example of what the Norwegians call ‘agurk’ news. Literally it means cucumber news, but it signifies the mindless fluff that gets promoted to feature status due to the summer holidays, when everyone, including most journalists and news sources, take their vacations and leave conventional reportage in short supply.
To mark the start of the season, two perfect agurk specimens made the Norwegian headlines; the world’s biggest cucumber, and even more important, the return of the bent cucumber, as the European Union dropped one of its most reviled and ridiculed regulations, a ban on cosmetically imperfect produce.
Agurk news can be just as entertaining as the moose beat, and hopefully some good, if less literal, examples will turn up soon. Until then, here is one of my all time favorites from the News in English archives – a summer job worth reading about.