Bridging and depolarizing journalism for debate in Helsinki

Posted by on September 21, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off


On the annual Nordic Freelance seminar in Helsinki I noticed a remarkable change: Journalists and editors are now listening to the voice of bridging and depolaring constructive journalism.

Last weekend I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on the annual Nordic Freelance seminar in Helsinki.  The theme was Future Journalism. The panel discussion took place at an old fort at the small Finish island Suomenlinna in beautiful surroundings along the rocky costline.

In the panel discussion we had focus on how the media should react towards polarization – and just that has been my primary focus area since I invented and defined the notion bridging and depolarizing constructive journalism in 2012. Every single day I work intensively using that method, both as a professional trainer and as a journalist writing articles, blogs and producing podcasts.

Before participating in the panel discussion I had time to follow other debates in Helsinki, and I noticed something very interesting. A huge change among journalists and their perception of bridging and depolarizing constructive journalism.

Five years ago only a few journalists really understood what I meant – and the majority propably thought that it was not their responsibility to consider how journalism can affect the way people look at each other.

Well however, in Helsinki I could establish that the perception has changed radically. Now focus has moved in such a way that journalists recognise that journalism also has to create nuances, diversity, community and mutual understanding.

This tendency responses very well with my own experience when I travel around Denmark meeting journalists and editors. Today, when I start telling about bridging and depolarizing constructive journalism they know exactly what I am talking about.

In Finland the historian professor Oula Silvennoinen and freelance journalist Elina Venesmaki also participated in the panel discussion on how the media shopuld react towards polarization in society and how journalists should work in terms of creating nuances, diversity and mutual understanding.

Sitting there it hit me that five years ago I could not have been in such a panel discussion, bacause they simply did not exist.  As mentioned before the bridging and depolarizing mindset was not on the agenda at that time. Now luckily, there is a different goodwill and openness for those debates.

Whether it is because our credibility as journalists is extremely low. Whether it is because of Brexit, Trump or the latest Danish election. Whether it is an actual desire for working differently It is hard to say.

However, my experience is that all of these reasons above are playing a role.

Journalism is moving in new directions and the debate continues – not only in Helsinki but all over newsrooms in the Nordic. Journalists and editors are listening to the voice of bridging and depolaring constructive journalism, and I am now being asked to speak about my method and my work.

Below You will find some examples from the Finish seminar on how journalists have focus on the bridging and depolarizing elements in their work today:

  • Anders Hofseth, a strategic analytic at NRK had focus on fake news and his advice was: The truth is not simple, so tell nuanced stories, find relevant facts and take proportions into account. Also dr. Mari K Niemi had focus on polarization and on how media has reacted on  populist parties around the Nordic countries.
  • Anssi Komulainen, the founder of Finish Yle Beta – that develops new types of visual storytelling – has designed a new technique which as capable of showing the Finish people how Helsinki would look like if there was a war going on and thereby make them understand how war feels.
  • Paulina Tervo, CEO and producer på Lyfta Py is producing bridging interactive videos for pupils in school. The goal is to invalidate prejudices and instead increase empathy and mutual understanding among countries.

If you want to know more about my method and the way I work with bridging depolarizing constructive journalism you are more than welcome to contact me:

Phone: +45 26700292

You can also read more about my method here.