Norran invests in English-language local news

To reach the increasing numbers of new Skellefteå residents speaking English, Norran is now starting a new English sub-site. Here, Norran's own articles will be published in the English language, but the site will also feature content that is specifically aimed at the new target group. Paul Connolly has been hired as editor for the project.

New English editor Paul Connolly and editor-in-chief Malin Christoffersson hope to facilitate newcomers to Skellefteå finding their way in society more easily.

New English editor Paul Connolly and editor-in-chief Malin Christoffersson hope to facilitate newcomers to Skellefteå finding their way in society more easily.

Foto: Gerth Hedberg

Skellefteå2023-02-10 11:16

Paul Connolly has a long career behind him as a journalist at The Times, Daily Mail and Reuters in the UK and as a freelance journalist and translator in Sweden. He has been living in Västanträsk for almost eleven years now and knows what it's like to be new to Skellefteå.

–  It is difficult to penetrate Norrland society when you first move here. I hope to be able to accelerate and make easier the integration of newcomers into Skellefteå society, says Paul.

New English editor Paul Connolly and editor-in-chief Malin Christoffersson hope to facilitate newcomers to Skellefteå finding their way in society more easily.

The background to the English language project is that Skellefteå has grown significantly in recent years due to new industrial establishments and many new Skellefteå residents coming from other countries. At Northvolt alone, roughly half of the 1,500 employees are from other countries. They are English-speaking and, on top of that, fluent in the language.

In Skellefteå today there are English-language schools, everything from preschools to high school, and there are also several hundred English-speaking students on campus.

–  Skellefteå has in a short time acquired an international character and we notice that it is difficult for our new residents to feel a part of what is happening in town; there is a feeling of exclusion which is not good. By making Norran's content available in English, we hope to contribute to Skellefteå's new residents feeling welcome and becoming part of society, says Norran's editor-in-chief Malin Christoffersson.

–  We are starting with a simple English subpage on, but over time we hope to be able to expand with more functions and coverage and a better framework. For the first time, we will also let these English articles be open for everyone to read, says Malin.

You can find the news in English at

The subsite will be on Norran's website under the heading "English" but you can directly access the English version at There will be a selection of Norran's biggest news and reports from all departments, but there will also be content produced that is particularly aimed at English-speaking newcomers.

In 2012, Paul Connolly and his girlfriend, Donna, moved from an apartment in London to Västanträsk. An accident that nearly killed Donna on a road trip in the USA in 2010 kickstarted the thought of change. 

Their jobs on English newspapers involved very long hours. They wanted to have a family but work was too intense. 

– We just thought, 'life is too short' to spend 12-14 hours a day working - we wanted a change, Paul says.

On a roadtrip to Sweden in 2011 their experience of seeing the northern lights while standing on a frozen lake near Porjus was so beautiful that Paul and his wife Donna could imagine moving to Sweden. They finally ended up in Västanträsk. 

– We moved here in June and four months later Donna was pregnant with twins.

Paul Connolly.

Paul Connolly worked as a translator for both the municipality and Norrland companies. Then the couple started the monthly magazine Norrland Living in March last year. It  is mainly focused on newcomers' stories and everything is written in English.

– We have become evangelists for Norrland, and Skellefteå in particular.

He has extensvie experience in moving to another country, experience that will come in handy as editor of Norran's English venture.

– I want to share things we wanted to know when we first arrived. Help people find short cuts to integrating in Skellefteå society.

One of the first stories Paul has  written is about the Winter Swim.

Is it something you would like to try?

– It's nothing that really appeals to me, but Donna is desperate to try it.

Sanna Bäckström, communicator at Northvolt in Skellefteå.

Northvolt, which has so far recruited people to Skellefteå from more than 80 different countries, is a partner in the venture and sees Norran's English material as something very valuable for their employees.

– When people move here, of course, they get a social context through work, but in order to grow into Skellefteå life, other information sources are also needed. Access to local news is something that many have requested. Having good information and becoming part of society creates a sense of security so that people want to stay here, and so we retain great employees, says Sanna Bäckström, communicator at Northvolt.

News in English
News in English

Paul Connolly

Age: 59 years.

Family: Girlfriend, Donna Richmond, 49, and twins Leila and Caitlin, 9.

Lives: Västanträsk, Bygdsiljum.

Current: Editor of Norran's new English initiative -