VG reported the shocking story of Odin Olsen Andersgård from Aurskog in Akershus, who was bullied in two schools. On 19 March last year he took his own life, aged 13.
The Norwegian Journalist of the Year Award is one of the highest accolades in the Norwegian press, and has been presented for more than 20 years. Sixteen different projects, journalists and editorial teams were nominated for the award in 2015.
“This year’s award-winner has researched and communicated it so powerfully that the rest of us also sense the unbearable burden of journalism. ‘There’s no point speaking out because they do nothing about it anyway,’ said thirteen-year-old Odin before taking his own life. His deep despair proved too much for the young adolescent to bear. He saw no way out. This is the story tonight’s winners have told us, and it is one that shocked the whole country,” said Harald Stanghelle from the Association of Norwegian Editors and jury chair.
The award is co-sponsored by the Norwegian Press Association, the Norwegian Union of Journalists, the Association of Norwegian Editors, the Norwegian Media Businesses Association, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, TV2, and the Norwegian Specialized Press Association.
The story of Odin generated a massive response. A torchlight procession against bullying was staged, and the King mentioned the issue in his new year address. Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservative) said: “We must learn from the Odin story,” and Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservative) said: “All the alarm bells should go off when someone speaks up.”
“The most important reason for the jury’s decision is as simple as it is decisive: it does help to speak out. Good journalism helps. It affects us as people and as a nation. We need it badly. We are proud to present this year’s award to VG’s Synnøve Åsebø and Maria Mikkelsen,” said Stanghelle.
VG journalists Synnøve Åsebø and Maria Mikkelsen say that winning the award means a lot to them:
“As we’ve said before, it is one of the most difficult but most important stories we’ve worked on, so this acknowledgement means a lot to us.”
They feel privileged to work in a media house where journalists are given the time and scope to research stories in depth over several months.
“We’re also proud to work in an editorial department that dares to take on such a difficult topic,” say Åsebø and Mikkelsen.
VG’s Editor-in-Chief Torry Pedersen was involved in the work on the story, and says that he is extremely pleased with the way in which VG handled it.
“One of the proudest moments in my career as editor was when we published the Odin story in November, both because it is rock solid and because of the way in which we handled the ethical issues we faced,” says Pedersen.