Göran Svedberg – A life of journalism



I first met Göran Svedberg in the photos above ca 12 years ago. Then we have met a few times over the following years and I’ve also joined him on a couple of his assignments as a reporter. Yes, Göran Svedberg is a journalist and an interesting man. A little time ago I asked him if he accepted an interview by me for my web log, which he accepted. He says that he’s reading two web logs, mine and foreign minister Carl Bildt’s.  Göran Svedberg was born in Forsa outside Hudiksvall, in April 1949. His father was working at the railroad with checking the signals for SJ (the national railroad), and his mother was a hairdresser. In school Göran found it easy, but didn’t like it very much.  When he was in upper-secondary school the family had moved to a railway junction called Ånge.  Göran was tired of school in those days and played truant a lot. Since he skipped so many classes his grades became lousy and he was expelled from school. When he was about 20 years old he decided that he must do something about it and became a pupil at the municipal adult school, in Swedish called Komvux. There he studied all the major subjects that he had lost by skipping upper secondary school, did well and within a year or two he had enough grades to get into university. Göran became a student at Lund University where also I and many others have studied. Göran focused on history and political science. 

While he was studying in Lund he also was working a little beside to make contacts. He was working at the photo laboratory Kungsfoto, and was given the suggestion by a co-worker there to ask her husband who was working on the evening paper Expressen in Malmoe if they had any jobs. This was in the summer of 1974. He was given a summer job there by the chief editor Edgar Antonsson, and did several coverages that summer. The first one was an interview with the famous Greek singer Demis Roussos who was having concert in Sweden. Back at Lund University Göran asked a career guide if he should become a history teacher for all his interest in the subject, but she said that there was too much competition for those positions. She adviced the young man to become either a priest or a journalist. Since the journalist education was shorter, (two years compared to the priestly one – five years) Göran chose the first. And he loved it. He ended up studying at the Journalist Training School in Gothenburg, JHG. There he studied 1974-1976. One of his class mates was the renowned Lars Adaktusson who later ended up as a TV-reporter and now has become a politician for the Christian Democrats.  After the studies in Gothenburg/Göteborg Göran got a proper job as journalist with Expressen in Malmoe. Back then they had an editorial office at Friisgatan. Göran met his wife to be, a beautiful Polish woman, got married in Dalby church, and continued working as a journalist. It was freedom under responsibility.


In 1979 the editorial office for Expressen closed down in Malmoe and all the staff was moved to Stockholm. But Göran missed his family down here and came back from Stockholm after just a year. Now he started working for Kvällsposten/The Evening Post instead. In 1982 the nuclear power station in Harrisburg, USA, suffered a disaster.  Göran remember calling one of the high officials at the Swedish nuclear power inspection about the different kinds of reactors. In 1982 Mr Svedberg became the new crime reporter for Kvällsposten in Malmoe. He used to visit the local police station in Malmoe at Davidshall, talk to the different police officers about what had happened, then the city court and back to the office to write his pieces. When dramatic things happened he covered it as well as possible. One dramatic incident in the mid-80’s was a man in the old inner city’s western parts in Malmoe who was running riot with a sword. Another time a man from former Yugoslavia had been involved in a robbery at NK, (nowaday’s Hansacompagniet). During the following investigation, a police officer happened to fire a shot by accident in the man’s flat during interrogation. The bullet went through the wall and into the kitchen, shocking the girl friend who was there. When Göran wrote about it in the newspaper that police officer became very angry, and the other staff at the police station told Göran not to show himself there for a couple of weeks.

As we talk, sitting at the restaurant in central Malmoe, I notice Göran’s facial expression. He seems to be rather at ease and content, and I can understand why. He has experienced a lot, and continues to do so. His face makes a subconscious twist as he remembers the assasination on Prime Minister Olof Palme in Februray 1986. That morning Göran got a call on his phone by some colleagues in Copenhagen, Denmark, who wanted to know more about the assasination. He was shocked and had to learn more. He took the plane to Stockholm, saw the spot at Sveavägen, and talked to the police there.  In connection to the Prime Minister assasination Göran and a couple of others made a journey to Bundes Kriminal Amt in Wiesbaden, Germany. Some clues in the investigation went in that direction and German police arrested among others people from the Scientology Church. When Göran, the photographer Lasse Svensson and Göran’s colleague from Sydsvenskan, Ulf Matsson, came to Wiesbaden, they too were searched and interrogated by the German police. Since Göran back then had black hair the German police officers thought he looked like a Yugoslav drug dealer. Back home he nevertheless continued writing his articles about the investigation of Palme’s assasination.

1987- 1990 Göran Svedberg was news editor at Kvällsposten which he just mentions briefly. Göran’s face lightens up when he recalls the next job, as foreigner correspondent in the USA, 1990 – 1992. He got to meet many enticing people high and low, see many places and cover a lot of events. He met the crime novelist Mickey Spillaney on a boat, and Spillaney told Göran about his new book, and shifted his t-shirt a couple of times, even if they were very similar. Göran met Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and then Carl Bildt in New York and also asked George Bush Sr a few questions, alongside Lars Adaktusson. Svedberg has met celebrities like Tina Turner and Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC, seen lots of boxing games in Atlantic City, and Mike Tyson. Tyson also chased a photographer working with Göran when the photographer had taken a picture of the boxer kissing a woman.  Göran met the Swedish pop group Roxette during their break-through tour in the USA, saw Davis Cup and talked to Björn Borg when he tried to make a come-back as top tennis player. He also went to South America when some Swedish people had been murdered there.

Back home in Sweden Göran became chief editor at the new TV station TV4.  He says that in the beginning the only ones who really knew TV were the technicians and cameramen. The reporters, newsreaders and quizz masters had mostly come from Radio or newspapers. As chief editor for commercial TV station 4 he was working 1992-1998. They did lots of rubbish, especially during the first years, he recalls, but some successes, like “Fångarna på Fortet”/The Prisoners on the Castle, “Rena Rama Rolf” and other things. Göran is most proud of two things from those years. During the World Mastership in football the Swedish team did really well. When they came back to Sweden they were celebrated in Stockholm. TV4 in Malmoe wanted to celebrate them too, and since several players came from Scania, even more important. No-one in Malmoe or the rest of Scania had planned any celebration, so Göran and the others went out with the news that they planned to do it at Stortorget/The Major Square in Malmoe. The journalist Patrik Ekvall had the right contacts and succeeded in persuading some of the foot-ball players to get down to the Malmoe celebration. When TV4 went out with this piece of news they were joined by Sydsvenskan and Radio Malmöhus. That way 10 000 people were gathered on the square to celebrate Martin Dahlin, Thomas Brolin and the others.

Another thing he is proud of from the TV4-years was the Nedira fund, http://www.nedirafonden.org. A reporter on the TV-station from former Yugoslavia learned of the girl Nedira Muratovic who suffered from the illness Apert’s syndrome, a severe handicap which needed surgery. They wanted to help the girl and gathered through their campaign half a million kronor in order to help her. She was nevertheless helped in another way, and they stood there with this money. So Nedirafonden was founded, in order to help children from the Balkans and other parts of Europe to get medical care in Sweden. During the war in former Yugoslavia and afterwards many good things were done. Clothes were gathered etc. Kurt Sköld was an important person in the foundation of Nedirafonden, which though doesn’t exist any more. When Göran left his chief post at TV4 he was replaced by two or three new ones. Since 1998 Göran Svedberg has continued as a stringer. He writes for eight-ten magazines, and he has found that it is easier to get in contact with people when you work for weekly or monthly journals, cooking magazines, gardening- , technical magazines and the like, rather than as reporter from an evening paper and tabloid press. People are more uneasy when those appear since they don’t want to be nailed or dragged in the dirt. Göran is a columnist for several magazines and some newspapers.

In 2000-2001 he made a journey to the south of Ukraine, and visited Gammelsvenskby/Old Swedish Village, or Zmievka, as it called in Ukrainan. It is situated by the western shore of the Dniepr River. During the 13th century Swedes emigrated from the mainland and ended up in the eastern parts of the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Finland, off the coast of Estonia. There on Dagö they settled and continued speaking Swedish. In 1721 Sweden lost this part of the Baltics to the Russians in the peace treaty of Nystad. In 1780 the local population on Dagö protested against the Empress Katerina the Great of Russia, and they were banned and sent into exile on August 20th 1781. The death march went through Belarus and on May 1st 1782 they arrived in southern Ukraine. There they settled, built a village and still live there. Since their kind of Swedish is very archaic you can still hear and see the old traces of what Swedish once used to sound like. Göran Svedberg made interviews with the local population and wrote a book “Gammelsvenskby – En by i Ukraina”, with beautiful photos by Erik Mårtensson. It was released in 2001 at JR Hain Publishing Company and was much appreciated, also by the Swedish Royal Family.  In 2005 IKEA released a book called “Living in ten metropolitan cities”. There Göran was well payed for writing the pieces about Warzcaw and Moscow. He went there and made several interviews. In the autumn of 2008 he joined the Swedish king Carl XVI Gustav and queen Silvia on their journey to Gammelsvenskby. Just before that trip a school class from the village visited Malmoe, and during three days I gave them lessons in Swedish, as part of their experience here.

Apart from his journalism Göran 2005-2010 also imported Vodka and tried to sell it here. “Vodka Gammelsvenskby AB” the company was called and he kept the bottles at a farm in Skivarp. Now he has also started a travelling bureau, “Caucasian Tours”, http://www.caucasiantours.se with journeys to Georgia and Ukraine. Göran is here co-operating with local people in Tbilisi, Georgia, Travel Fabric in Malmoe and Field Wood Travel in Ystad. They offer 1) a guided tour around Georgia, 2) company journeys, 3) Horse riding journeys and 4) Wine and Dine journeys.Trips to Ukraine and Gammelsvenskby/Zmievka are also planned.  Göran believes that these journeys might attract well-off Swedes who want to see something new.  No doubt Göran Svedberg has lots of things to do, much to offer, and is a man full of knowledge and experiences. When we said good bye on that restaurant two days ago we promised to keep in touch. His life as a journalist has been interesting along with everything else.

Anders Moberg, September 19th 2013


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