Grigory Pasko: A Portrait of Norway’s Erling Borgen

Erling the frenetic A portrait of a journalist against the background of a fortunate country Grigory Pasko, journalist Если Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда. The Norwegian television journalist Erling Borgen is sanguine and choleric in one package. He is large and emotional. He knows how to captivate people with his non-indifference to life. He stirs up public opinion with his documentary films, forcing people to think about things that lie on the surface. Erling-2.jpg Norwegian video journalist Erling Borgen (photo by Grigory Pasko)

Like, for example, the marble embankment along the waterside in Oslo or the Millennium Square in Bergen. To force people to think – in all of history this has been a not-easy matter, and at times even dangerous. But Erling is lucky: he lives in peaceful and democratic Norway. He says: “I’m afraid of causing harm to those people who give us interviews in less fortunate countries than Norway. I’ll leave, but they have to stay…”For twenty years he’s worked at the state television channel NRK. He managed to squeeze thousands of reports into 1 minute 56 second segments – this was how much time was allocated for one report. He worked in Latin America and China. Now he owns his own studio and answers to no one but his own professionalism and conscience.“How do we unmask official Norway?”, he asks and shows his documentary films. For example, a film about Indian marble for Norway. In this film the faces of some of the heroes are hidden in the shadows. But the faces of children – and there are many of them there – are not hidden. The film isn’t even about the marble that Norway had purchased in India, but about how this marble had been polished by minor-aged children. For many-many hours, ingesting marble dust. … Erling put Norway to shame for using the slave labor of children. And Norway, it seems, understood.“There is no such thing as objective journalism”, says Erling. “There is always the choice between one person and another. We always, for some kind of reasons, ourselves make a choice to interview one person and ignore another. But three principles of journalism must be observed. First: truth. There is no “nearly truth” or half-truth. Second: whatever you’re intending to tell must be fundamentally meaningful. Third: all those whom we attack must have a chance to defend themselves.”Good words and principles. But …For normal countries. For example, in my country, you also need to try to stay among the living or out of jail after you say/attack/show the truth.Erling’s film «Flip the coin» – about how the Norwegian company Telenor used the child labor in Bangladesh – was shown in May of this year, but the passions it raised have not died down to this day.And also there were films: about the cutting down of forests in Brazil by a relative of the Norwegian kind; about tea producers on Sri Lanka; about the oil company Statoil in Azerbaijan; about arms production in Norway; about the participation of a Norwegian company in the guarding of prisoners in Guantanamo…I watch the film about Statoil and I understand: Erling is upset about the fact that Norway is doing business with a country in which human rights are being violated. This, in his opinion, is amoral.…But I recall Russia and her western partners, those who couldn’t care less about violations of the rights of people in my country, because profit for them is more important than human lives and the future of an entire country.Erling Borgen excites Norway with his creative output. Lord! – where are his Russian television colleagues, as full of courage, principle, dedication, and confidence in themselves and in the work they’re doing? Can it be that every last one of them has shrunken out of cowardice and self-contempt?Ah, journalists! Don’t fear the Putins: they come and they go. Fear destroying the profession inside yourselves: it does not suffer cowards. You will say: Erling’s got it good – he lives in Norway. Yes, he does have it good. But if we want to live in just as free a country, then we’ve got to do something to get ourselves there. For example: to remember that the profession of a journalists – is a noble profession. And that you and I have plenty more people besides Borgen we can take a cue from…