A proposal to incorporate the rights and duties of editors and their editorial freedom into Norwegian law to protect them from meddlesome owners is said to be a response to David Montgomery’s acquisition of Orkla Media last year. While denying that it was a direct precedent for the new law, the culture minister, Trond Giske cited a dramatic change in the nature of the country’s media ownership as one of the triggers, according to Kristine Lowe.
Norway has had a voluntary agreement on editors’ rights and duties for more than 50 years, signed by the editors and ownersÂ associations.
Montgomery’s Mecom business’s trail of acquisitions across northern Europe is taking him into very different territory to that he experienced in the UK when he ran the Mirror group and established a reputation for ruthless management. Germany and the Scandinavian countries have a more consensual tradition than the UK.
But the sudden replacement of the Berliner Zeitung’s editor last year suggests he he has lost none of his old style. The journalists were extremely disgruntled about the lack of consultation but there was little they could do about it.
It is difficult to see how a law could make much difference unless owners’ sole rights to appoint editors were taken away. His record suggests that Monty is not easily tamed.