Couple’s break-up set off media storm

Tone Damli Aaberge, a 24-year-old Norwegian singer from Sogndal, has received more publicity than she probably could have imagined in the past week, because of perceived public interest over her broken engagement to actor Aksel Hennie. All the hype in the celebrity press led to a certain degree of media soul-searching over the weekend.

Young singer Tone Damli Aaberge has been in the news lately because of her split with actor Aksel Hennie. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Young singer Tone Damli Aaberge has been in the news lately because of her split with actor Aksel Hennie. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

The reportedly dramatic Aaberge-Hennie break-up figured most prominently in the tabloid press, best known for its attention to local celebrities. But it even led to more serious newspapers like Dagsavisen, which prides itself on not covering much if any celebrity news, getting into the act on Saturday by interviewing the “celebrity news editor” of large Oslo-based newspaper VG, Camilla Bjørn. Dagsavisen, it seems, saw a need to report just why the break-up of a young singer and an actor was so dramatic.

“I can’t remember the last time it was so hot on the job,” Bjørn told Dagsavisen, who claimed she had to sleep with her Ipad and mobile telephone on her chest every night last week, “because there were so many decisions to make around the clock.” Bjørn went so far as to compare the Aaberge-Hennie break-up to that between American actor Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston several years ago.

Bjørn was coy about saying how long she’d known about the break-up before VG’s top editors apparently decided to run with the news, “because that gets into our work processes and consideration for our sources.” She was clearly thriving in her role of being on the “in” side of gossip and speculation, though, and then being part of deciding what’s published and what’s not, at least in VG.

In this case, she told Dagsavisen, there’d been a “flood of speculation and rumours” about the couple, “coverage of the break-up, and coverage of the coverage of the break-up – I’ve never seen anything like it in the 10 years I’ve worked with celebrity journalism.”

So why was the broken engagement between Aaberge and Hennie such important news?

“Because this was a couple who actively had invited folks into (their lives) and used their relationship in the press, on social media and most recently on TV2 in a documentary about Tone, where they (Aaberge and Hennie) discussed their wedding and feelings completely openly,” Bjørn said. “That all had to do with their break-up being so public.”

Media debate centered on where the limits should go on coverage of the private lives of public persons, since the Norwegian media traditionally is more restrained than media in other countries. Bjørn seemed confident that Aaberge, who dropped out of school after placing second in a Norwegian Idol competition on TV, could tackle the media pressure despite her young age. Bjørn was a bit more reserved about Hennie, who among other roles played resistance hero Max Manus in the film by the same name, noting that he never seemed to like questions about his private life. He was, Bjørn said, “one of those I never dared to asked personal questions because I knew he didn’t like it.”

The break-up news, which broke in the glare of social media buzz early last week, continued to grab headlines this week when a city court in Oslo ordered blogger Christian Burmeister on Monday to remove his posts about the couple’s break-up along with all related links. That was aimed at stopping the rumours that continued to flow after the couple confirmed their wedding was cancelled.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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