Freedom of Expression Tribute to Per Edgar Kokkvold and Nils E. Øy
Press Release, 14 May 2013
During an event at the Association of Norwegian Editors yesterday evening, Per Edgar Kokkvold and Nils E. Øywere both awarded the Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute.
The Fritt Ord Foundation's Board of Governors states in its grounds for the award that Kokkvold is being honoured for "his firm defence of freedom of expression, not least in the face of years of death threats, and for his many and sharp comments about journalistic practices, which have contributed to self-criticism and the self-regulation of the press".
Øy is being awarded the tribute for "his indefatigable struggle over 40 years for full disclosure, free public access, editorial independence and professionalism, as well as for building up a unique archive of material in these fields".
Per Edgar Kokkvold (born in 1946 at Røros) began as a journalist on Arbeiderbladet's foreign affairs desk in 1972, and was subsequently named foreign affairs editor (1984–91) and editor (1991–96) of the same daily newspaper. From 1996 to 2013, Kokkvold was secretary general of the Norwegian Press Association.
Kokkvold was at the very heart of the controversy about the Mohammed caricatures that Jyllands-Posten in Denmark published in 2005. Kokkvold defended the decision to publish, also when publication took place in the Norwegian Magazinet. Early in 2006, he began receiving death threats and he has been under police protection for extended periods of time. Kokkvold has consistently maintained that Norwegian media not must give in to Islamist or any other threats of terror when freedom of expression is at stake.
With his concise, often surprisingly opinions on a number of other controversial matters, Per Edgar Kokkvold has made significant contributions to the public debate on press ethics, journalistic practices and the intellectual level of the press.
Nils E. Øy (born 1946 in Ørsta) began as a journalist in Fredrikstad Blad in 1964, and subsequently became head reporter. He acted as deputy head of the Norwegian Institute of Journalism (1977–84) and was editor of the Gudbrandsdølen Lillehammer Tilskuer (1984–88). From 1988–96, Øy was head of the Norwegian Institute of Journalism and, from 1996 to 2013, he was secretary general of the Association of Norwegian Editors.
For years, Nils Øy has been in the vanguard of the press' efforts to ensure proper practice of the Freedom of Information Act, to fight for free public access to information and to insist on the protection of sources and freedom of information as basic values. Through a number of committees, reports and book publications and through his own activities as a teacher, mentor and generous colleague, Øy has helped set new standards for professionalism and the development of methods in the industry. Later this month, his new book Media Law for Journalists will be published, summarising his professional experience and insight. Nils Øy's unusually extensive special archive on these areas is now being prepared to be opened for public use.
The Freedom of Expression Tribute acknowledges remarkable efforts to promote free speech, often in connection with current events. Tributes are accompanied by a cash award of NOK 100 000.