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The Glass Girl

In August 2015, a 15-year old girl sent an email to several newspapers in Norway. She was isolated in an institution and asked the papers to scrutinize the children’s home where she was living. She told a story about force, abuse of power, isolation, and mistreatment. The story seamed to be too unlikely to be true. Schibsted’s Norweigan newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad decided to investigate it.

Half a year later an astonishing story was published. Not only was it the longest text every published in the history of Norwegian newspapers (64 pages), the company operating the institution tried to stop it, but did not succeed. Instead the story sold out the paper and – also for the first time in modern time – Stavanger Aftenblad decided to print an extra edition.

”Glassjenta” shows the strength of combining investigative journalism and classical, personal story telling. And the importance of telling a complex story – which in the end changes how things work in society.

What was first planned to be an ordinary story turned out to be a project that lasted for half a year. The reporter Thomas Ergos followed the girl, called Ida in the story, and described her case. Doing so, he was given a unique access to trials and documents connected to her case. All the time the ambition was to tell the truth, even if facts didn’t support Ida’s story or even if it put her in a bad light.

The result was a documentation of force interventions and abuse from the institution and from the police. It showed a record of hospital visits, self inflicting actions, suicide attempts and acting out, from a girl who before coming to the institution in January 2014 neither was know by the police nor had acted out before.

This unique story also resulted in several changes. Journalists are now more often granted access to trials regarding childrens’ welfare, authorities and politicians have promised they will learn form Ida’s case.

In 2016 Galssjenta were awarded Schibsted Journalism Award in the category Best Storytelling.

Watch the nominee video: