| Fritt Ord |
|Founder||• Jens Henrik Nordlie|
• Finn Skedsmo
• Jens Christian Hauge
|Member of||The Hague Club|
|Membership||• Grete Brochmann|
• Christian Bjelland
• Frank Rossavik
• Guri Hjeltnes
• Sigrun Slapgard
• Bård Vegar Solhjell
• Anine Kierulf
• Knut Olav Åmås
• Erik Ruden
|Norwegian grant giving foundation with Cold War origins.|
Fritt Ord is a Norwegian private foundation, whose aim is to support freedom of expression and a free press. It was established on 7 June 1974 by Director Jens Henrik Nordlie and his subordinate Finn Skedsmo as well as the lawyer and deep politician Jens Christian Hauge.
The Foundation has its origins in the Cold War and the older US system of providing funding to select causes through Foundations, seemingly without deep state participation.
Fritt Ord has significant funds and is playing a part in supporting various projects in Norway, as investing in the newspaper Morgenbladet, supporting an encyclopedia (Store Norske Leksikon) and holding a 10.1% ownership in the media group A-Pressen. In addition it awards scholarships to students within media and journalism, awards the Fritt Ord Prize, and supports writing competitions. It has also provided funding for controversial projects, e.g. a book written by the blogger Fjordman, who calls for the deportation of all Muslims from Europe.
The organization awards three annual prizes to support freedom of speech; the Fritt Ord Award (Norwegian: Fritt Ords pris), the Fritt Ord Honorary Award (Norwegian: Fritt Ords honnør) and the Press Prizes for Russia and Eastern Europe (Norwegian: Pressepriser for Russland og Øst-Europa).
The owners of the kiosk chain Narvesen wanted to transform his chain of newspaper and magazine retailers to an institution, and on 1 January 1975 the company was taken over by the newly created foundation Fritt Ord at the same time it merged with the Norwegian State Railways (NSB) company Norsk Spisevognselskap, who offered services within catering to the railway. Fritt Ord got 59% ownership in the newly formed company while NSB got 41% ownership.
The dividends from the company made it possible for Fritt Ord to perform a number of tasks related to freedom of expression, including support for the Institute of Journalism and the Freedom of Expression Prize as well as a number of grants to numerous persons and institutions, domestically and internationally.
In 1995 NSB sold its shares in Narvesen and the company was listed on Oslo Stock Exchange. As a result of this Fritt Ord reduced its ownership in Narvesen to 34% in 1999 and in 2000 Narvesen was merged with Reitangruppen to form ReitanNarvesen. In 2001 Fritt Ord sold its ownership in the company to the Reitan Family. As a result of the capital freed from the sale of Narvesen, Fritt Ord has acquired holdings in Morgenbladet (30,5%) and A-Pressen (10,1%).
Economic power to stop David Irving in 2008
The organization was criticized by some for obstructing rather than furthering freedom of speech when it threatened the Norwegian Festival of Literature with withdrawing financial support if the British historian David Irving was allowed to speak at the festival. In October 2008 Fritt Ord's director, Erik Rudeng, demanded that its logo be removed from the webpages of the Norwegian Festival of Literature because Irving had been invited to give a lecture on his concept of truth at the festival. Irving's invitation was withdrawn only a few days later. Rudeng on his side defended the decision by stating that Fritt Ord only sponsored the literature festival in 2008 and thus it was high time their logo was removed when the program for 2009 was presented. This prompted some commentators to address the paradox of a self-proclaimed "free speech" organization which involves itself in a campaign to stop a controversial voice like that of David Irving from being heard in Norway.
The list of Board Members include the year 2022.
- Geir Ramnefjell, Fritt fram i Fritt Ord?, Dagbladet
- Fjordman foreslo nazi-løsning, Dagbladet
- NTB (8 November 2012 Fritt Ords Honnør til Nina Johnsrud Dagbladet, Retrieved 28 June 2013
- Emil Flatø (20 February 2013): Det skal ikke være lov å kalle romfolket «parasitter» og «brunsnegler» Dagbladet, Retrieved 28 June 2013
- the Press Prizes for Russia and Eastern Europe