The Norwegian American (NA) is a newspaper that publishes material contributed by writers from Norway and the Norwegian American community. The Norwegian American is distributed on a biweekly basis by mail to thousands of subscribers in the USA, Canada and other parts of the world. NA continues what was once a very strong tradition of Norwegian American newspapers, as detailed by Pr. Odd Lovoll in his book Norwegian Newspapers in America: Connecting Norway and the New Land. At their height, Norwegian American newspapers had large local circulations and most of their content was in the Norwegian language. As such, Norwegian language newspapers formed part of what was once a very important body of non-English language periodicals (see American Association of Foreign Language Newspapers).
Prior to May 2016, the paper was distributed on a weekly basis and was known and the Norwegian American Weekly. The paper was formed in 2006 under the auspices of the Norwegian American Foundation through the merger of regional papers The Western Viking (Seattle) and The Norway Times (New York). The subscriber base and many of the editorial contributors can be traced to the Viking and Times. NA roots also touch back to Decorah Posten and the paper continues to publish the cartoon strip Han Ola og han Per, the creation of Peter J. Rosendahl originally carried by Decorah Posten.
The Western Viking was founded by two Norwegian immigrants Frank Oleson and his brother in 1889 as the Washington Posten.
Period under the Scandinavian Publishing Company (1890-1959)
Oleson sold the company to the Scandinavian Publishing Company in 1890. Editors included Gunnar Lund (1905-1938), Ole L. Ejde (1938-1959).
Washington Posten was renamed to Western Viking by Henning Boe. Boe bought the business in 1959, changed the name and introduced more English language content. Boe had immigrated from Norway in 1951. He was trained as a master printer in Norway and planned to return after learning about printing technology in the USA. Instead, he worked for Decorah Posten and later joined Washington Posten in 1954. As owner of the Western Viking, Boe went ahead and bought Decorah Posten, which at the time was the largest Norwegian newspaper in the United States. The Viking also acquired the newspapers Ved Arnen, Minneapolis Tidende, Minnesota Posten, Norrøna, and Skandinavian in this period. At 74 years of age, Boe celebrated the centennial of the paper in 1989.
Alf Knudsen, a retired music teacher, bought the paper in 1990, turning the paper over to his daughter, Kathleen Hjørdis Knudsen, in 1997. The Knudsens shifted the paper to include even more English language content while expressing a desire to keep immigrants connected to "the old country" through articles on current events in Norway.
Nordisk Tidende was the original name of the paper and was started by Emil Nielsen in 1891. It focused on gossip, scandal, and murder in the Norwegian-American regions of Brooklyn. The tone of the paper changed to become more serious when its audience grew to include churches, Sons of Norway lodges, etc.
Carl Søyland served as editor-in-chief from 1940 to 1962. In his career he had served as a foreign correspondent writing articles for several papers. He joined Nordisk Tidene in 1926. During the war and the German occupation of Norway, Nordisk Tidene served as an uncensored voice on Norway. The company had more than 40 employees, book-publishing, and its own printing press during this period. The paper spread to a larger audience throughout the U.S. and Canada and the name of the paper was changed to the Norway Times. In 1996, the Norwegian investment company that owned the Norway Times wanted to sell it, but the employees purchased the paper to keep it alive. The paper continued to serve its readers for another decade before it merged with Western Viking.
See main article Decorah Posten
Kathleen Hjørdis Knudsen continued as editor while the newspaper transitioned to a new look and emphasis. Prominent members of the Norwegian-American community, under the auspices of the Norwegian American Foundation, became its owners and began introducing new elements and emphasis to the paper. Kim Nesselquist, who serves as Consul of Norway in Seattle, was first listed as the publisher of the Norwegian American Weekly in the April 20, 2007 issue. In the August 17 issue, Jake Moe is listed as "Publisher & Editor in Chief" for the first time, and Kim Nesselquist is titled President. Kathleen Hjørdis Knudsen is listed as Editor in this same issue, but does not appear in any of the mastheads of subsequent issues.