A new schoolyear, new beginnings
Changing times, changes at The Norwegian American
Dear readers and friends,
With every issue, it always feels like a privilege to send a personal message to you, but this edition feels extra special, because I am writing to you from Oslo. After being away for well over two years, I have been back to reconnect with friends and colleagues, to explore new places, and to vacation along the Pilgrim’s Path. You will be reading about some of my adventures in this issue and throughout the fall.
It has been wonderful to be here again, both on a professional and personal basis. As I told a good friend, I really love Norway! Every time I visit, I am impressed with how friendly the Norwegian people are and how they take such good care of their beautiful country and everyone who visits here.
I have learned so much on this trip, which seems appropriate since this is the Education issue. Excellence in education is something that is part of the Norwegian DNA. While it is not possible for us to present all the fine Norwegian-American colleges and institutions across the country, we are very pleased to present an overview of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where so many of our friends and colleagues have received their education. Many thanks to Business and Sports Editor Michael Kleiner and Travel Editor Cynthia Elyce Rubin for their work on their feature stories. They both went well beyond the call of duty. I should add that I have also had the pleasure of visiting St. Olaf as a guest of Amy Boxrud, executive director of the Norwegian-American Historical Association at St. Olaf College, which helped shape these stories. Finally, many thanks to everyone who offered their time to provide us with insightful information.
I would also like to give a shout-out to our summer intern, Nick Rogness, who did so much to help us pull this special issue together. Nick came to us from the Nordic Studies program at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with very high recommendations, and he delivered on all levels. While supervising an intern can be very time-consuming for an editor, Nick was able to jump in and contribute to the team right away. You can even read about his experience from his perspective in this issue’s op-ed column.
While here in Oslo, I also got the opportunity to meet some of our freelance contributors in person for the first time. Randi Millman-Brown, who had kept us in suspense for years with her column about her great uncle Thor Jensen, is in Norway for the summer to visit relatives, do more research, and focus on her writing at an artist’s retreat in Austmarka before returning home to Ithaca, N.Y., this fall. I was also able to connect with Oslo-based Tove Andersson, who has provided us with feature articles on Norwegian culture over the years.
In each instance, I realized how important it can be to have the special personal connection. I gained so much f rom both of these meetings. It also made me realize that Skype and Zoom just can’t replace the real thing. On this trip, I met and talked to so many people, and each encounter felt so special, so unique. For this reason, I am a true believer in travel as education. And while I have not yet left Oslo, I am already planning my next trip back.
A new school year, new beginnings
The start of a new school year always feels like a time of new beginnings for children, parents, and grandparents alike, and here at The Norwegian American, it will also be a time of transition.
Over the past two years, we have made a number of changes to our publication—changes that we hope you have perceived as positive—and now, more changes are on the way, which I would like to explain to you.
As you know, during the pandemic, we faced a number of challenges. At the outset, we had to completely pivot to a 100% remote work setup, and with the lockdown of society in both Norway and the United States, we had to make major adjustments in our editorial calendar. In all instances, our team showed great flexibility and creativity to deliver compelling content to you.
At the same time, we also faced financial challenges, with hikes in postal rates and printing costs, among other things. The list is long, and with inflation, it is getting longer by the day.
Unfortunately, we have not gained enough subscribers and donors to keep pace with these increases. Most sadly, a significant number of our longtime subscribers passed away during the pandemic.
Many of us have worked excessive hours to make up for budgetary shortfall, but this is not a sustainable model over time.
For this reason—after long deliberations and a lot of number-crunching—we have decided that it now makes sense for us to publish The Norwegian American on a monthly basis, with continuous online publishing.
This means you will receive the same high-quality publication once a month, with 12 issues a year instead of 22. It also means that we will not have to increase the price of your subscription, we can compensate our staff fairly, and we can make improvements to our production model and the content of the paper. We have many exciting plans in place for new features, and we will have more time and resources for marketing the paper and making it grow.
In the end, we hope you will see this as an enhancement to The Norwegian American, a decision that will allow it to carry on for the next generation.
In our last issue with its focus on Iceland, we talked about changing times and how we must change with them. That is exactly what we are doing, and thank you for your support along the journey.
Wishing you the best from our team,
This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.