Tundra voice will sound at full capacity

Eleven young indigenous journalists are ready to start broadcasting news in Nenets and Russian. Photo: Andrey Vokuev

The implementation of the joint Russian-Norwegian-Canadian project “Vyngy syo” (in Nenets “Voice of the tundra”) aimed to organize broadcasting in Nenets language is going on in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.


The project “Voice of the tundra” was initiated three years ago by the Working Group of Indigenous People of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. However, the practical implementation of the project started only in September 2012. The project aims to create a permanent broadcasting on Nenets and Russian languages to disseminate reliable, topical and important information for the Nenets population living primarily in rural areas of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) and leading traditional way of life. 

The Nenets Broadcasting Company (NBC) is the main Russian partner in the project. The Norwegian side is represented by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat and NRK Sápmi (Sami branch of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation), and Canada is represented by the Indigenous Media Institute.

Saving of the Nenets language is a burning issue in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Mostly older people speak Nenets, while young people prefer to speak Russian. The project is designed to help preservation and popularization the Nenets language among the indigenous population, especially among youth.

Eleven young indigenous participants were selected for the project last September. They are from five localities of the Okrug: Naryan-Mar, Krasnoe, Nes, Nel’min-Nos, Bugrino. This was no easy task, because one of the main criteria was knowledge of Nenets language which most part of indigenous youth knows badly. Most of the selected participants understood Nenets and were able to read and write it, but did not speak fluently. Therefore it was decided to have Nenets language study as a central part of the training program, along with journalism and camera work. 

The entry-level indigenous journalists also studied rhetoric, logic, culture and literature of the Nenets people.

The training program was completed by a three-day workshop with Norwegian specialists Bjarne Store-Jakobsen, journalist and at the same time Norwegian manager of the project, and Harry Johansen, print and radio journalist of NRK Sápmi, filmmaker. The Norwegians shared secrets on how to make TV stories, features of work in indigenous communities. As a result of the workshop, participants created two TV stories what have been shown on air on NBC. 


Project participants and teachers gathered in Naryan-Mar. Photo: Andrey Vokuev.

The participants are now in their settlements, where correspondent’s offices will start work soon. All the eleven project participants became employed correspondents and cameramen in the Nenets broadcasting company. 

The Nenets Autonomous Okrug supported the project and provided funds in size of NOK 1,2 million to the NBC for the establishment and operation of the Nenets broadcasting unit, training programs, equipment purchase. The Norwegian side represented by the Foreign Ministry and the Norwegian Barents Secretariat will finance training of the project participants in Norway. The Canadian partners allocate funds for such trips to Canada.

In March, the young Nenets journalists will have training in Naryan-Mar with Canadian coaches and weekly training at the NRK Sápmi in Karasjok, Norway. In the second half of this year they will have a trip to Canada to learn experience of the Aboriginal Voices Radio Network and a trip to the Indigenous people program Department of the Yamal-Region broadcasting company in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. But most important is to organize regular Nenets news and program production that can be exchanged with other world indigenous broadcasters.