A working newspaper museum

The Fjeld-Ljom Newspaper Museum at Røros in Central Norway is unique.

Fjeld-Ljom Newspaper Museum and the famous church of Røros.

It is situated at the original premises of the former Fjeld-Ljom newspaper, and includes the original editorial office and typesetting and printing departments. The technology is based on hot metal typesetting and letterpress printing, as was the case when Fjell-Ljom closed in the mid 1970s. The machinery is kept in working condition by voluntary work of experienced craftsmen. Every year a four-page broadsheet newspaper is typeset and printed at the premises.

Fjeld-Ljom («Mountain Echo») was established in 1886 in the small copper mining town of Røros, south of Trondheim. The mines closed in the 1970s after 333 years of digging for riches in harsh conditions more than 700 metres above sea level. Røros is today a charming small town of wooden architecture and a magnificent baroque church. It is visited by tourists all year round for its historical heritage, and is a UNESCO heritage site.

Olaf O Berg

The founder, printer and first editor of Fjeld-Ljom was Olaf O. Berg. The paper mixed local news with social-radical politics, causing opposition from the local establishment. Several prominent Norwegian authors contributed to it, among them Johan Falkberget and Arne Garborg.

From the start Fjeld-Ljom was printed on a handpress, which at a later stage was replaced by a sheet-fed cylinder press. The manual typesetting of the first 30 years or so, was by the time of World War One complemented by typesetting machines.

As a consequence of modernization of Norwegian spelling, Fjeld-Ljom later became Fjell-Ljom, which still exists as a weekly local newspaper, now set digitally and printed in offset. The paper experienced economical problems in the 1970s and moved out of the building. The machinery was left behind, and ten years later newspaper and printing enthusiasts took the opportunity to establish it as a newspaper museum. The house is owned by a charity, Rørosmuseet (The Røros Museum), which is part of the regional  Museene i Sør-Trøndelag. The machinery is taken care of by an independent organization of interested supporters, Pressemuseet Fjeld-Ljoms Venner (The Friends of The Fjeld-Ljom Newspaper Museum). Among the supporters are publishers, press organizations and interested individuals.

Twice a year a group of 10-15 former compositors, printers, graphic art industry experts, newspaper managers, younger graphic designers and journalists meet up for a few days maintenance and production, which results in a four-page newspaper, set and printed «in the old way». The museum is open to the public on one of these days. It is possible for groups to book visits at other times.

The editorial office on the first floor includes the offices of an editor and a journalist, as well as a reception where customers, advertisers and subscribers were served by a secretary. Some office equipment, like typewriters and printable plates with subscribers’ addresses from the 1970s and earlier, are on display, as well as wrapped-up clichés.

Typesetting the old way.

The typesetting department includes two Intertype and two Linotype typesetting machines, a Ludlow title setter, cases with type for setting by hand,  and a desk for page make-up.

The printing department is based on an old Nebiolo cylinder press that prints on one side of the sheet at a time. There is also a working Heidelberg platen press.

The  images needed for the annually printed newspaper are produced as high-relief polymer clichés on another location, by a member of the team of volunteers.

On display in the museum are also a number of older machines: among them a Typograph typesetting machine, a couple of manual platen presses («jobbers»), and a metal handpress from 1833.