Helje Soldberg began working at VG, Norway’s largest daily, in 1994 as a political reporter, before holding positions such as Editorial Department Manager, Sub Manager, Managing Editor and Executive Managing Editor. Now, Soldberg is the Acting Editor/Managing Director of VGTV and has received such recognition for her work as the SKUP Award for Investigative Journalism in 1995 and the Norwegian Grand Prize for Journalism in 1996. In addition to her work on the board of the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association and as a member of the Oslo Editor Association, Soldberg is also an active member of WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom Brain Trust. WAN-IFRA caught up with Soldberg to learn more about her participation in this important program.

By Colette Davidson

How did you first get involved with the Brain Trust?

As a mentor in the Media Professional Program, I became part of the Brain Trust.

I was asked to join the Brain Trust at the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association where I am also on the board of this group. When I was asked to join, I was just delighted. I had heard of it through the WAN-IFRA newsletter.

Can you explain your involvement thus far?

For the last two years, my colleague Hildegunn Soldal from Aller Media and I have been mentors for media executives in Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. The aim is to support them to address editorial and commercial challenges, and to strengthen their media organizations overall. We work with them in their home countries, as well as engaging with them by Skype or email during the intervening months.

What has been your favorite part of working with the Brain Trust?

We have gotten to know amazing and gifted media managers. It’s hugely impressive what they achieve during such challenging times; in terms of resources, technology, access to information and press freedom-issues. We are grateful to be a part of the program, and look forward to its continuation.

What is the most surprising thing you have learned from your travels as a Brain Trust member?

First, I think the Brain Trust is hugely important. There are many ways to succeed as a media house – many paths to success. It’s so important for media executives to find their own way. We have learned so much from all of the participants, especially about the diversity among the media houses and the countries. On a more personal note, a pleasant surprise was the very warm and generous welcome we received when we came back the second year. That and the feedback from the participants are much appreciated.

Why do you think the Brain Trust is important to the media industry?

I think the sharing experience is really important and if I can contribute to that, I am grateful. I have learned so much from the media executives inside and outside of Norway from sharing experiences. Even though some of our challenges are different, many are the same. For example, the digital transformation and revolution. In order to cope with it, we have many of the same challenges. What’s very important is to dare to invest in the future and to think long term when it comes to journalism. In addition, for media managers all over the world, it’s increasingly important to be open and externally oriented. We live in a world where no single organization has all the answers. To collaborate and work with colleagues from other places, to exchange ideas and experiences, is inspiring and important for all of us.

WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom Brain Trust is an informal association of media executives drawn from our membership community who have an active interest in supporting their peers in emerging and post-conflict markets. Members of the Brain Trust contribute their time and expertise to WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom programmes as trainers, mentors or advisors. 

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