Arctic Spirit: Sustainable Journalism / Roveniemi, Finland

Roundtable Discussion on Journalsim and Media in the Arctic



Two and a half weeks ago Hot Arctic got in a van and made the long trip south into Finland to attend the Arctic Spirits conference in Roveniemi. The 2017 conference's focus was Sustainable Development, though topics were flexible (the basis for most talks and discussions was the EU Sustainable Development goals for 2030).


Because of this flexibility, the most interesting and impactful moment of my trip was a panel called Indigenous People in the Media, though it wasn't directly about that subject head at all, it was more a discussion of sustainable journalism in the arctic.

Below is the makeup of the Panel. I may refer to some of the individuals in the panel but some of the points I thought were the most pertinent were shared by many people in the panel so assume that if an idea doesn't have a source it was just very popular!


The panel was so super-charged with issue and ideas for repair that it would be difficult to give an in-depth analysis of all of them. Instead I'll list my personal favorites with a small explaination.


Dangers of Parachuet Journalism: bullying communities and local reporters into interviews and information, creating stories
             This is the danger of pressuring journalists with such tight deadlines, as stories are fabricated, facts are exaggerated, damage is done, and what could have helped would have just spending the minimum of three weeks in the area and create something of actual value

Bullying and community pressure to publish or not publish on certain topics, which conflicts with ability to conduct research in the future if trust is breached, but being biased and not reporting on full truth defeats the significance and importance of the press

Community Interest: Difficulty printing articles on the Arctic Council etc because it takes time to write about and people just want to read about groteque things involving marriage and death 

- "What does the London factory worker want to see that doesn't skew the image of the Arctic too far" -Finnish guy on BBC

Language: preservation of language through representation (fear: putting alongside english may actually diminish other language, unintended consequence)

Fighting Erasure: Using media to give more power to Indigenous groups not so outright accepted in Russia (smaller indigenous groups that aren't Nenets)

 Barents Observer: freedom of speech, breaking down stereotypes, information from across boarders (Radio Murmansk),
                     "you don't want official news, you want to know what's really happening on the Kola Penninsula"
                       Two media outlets, one for original news (Eye on the Arctic) and another for translation and redistribution from Russian networks to the rest of the world

- "We worry about damaging our own relations and connections by engaging with skewed/undereducated producers and reporters, but this may result in an even worse product that does harm to our indigenous partners and friends" 

- Adapting to a new age: other Nunavet paper will likely die because it isn't digitized (150,000 people view the digitized paper although there are only 50,000 people in Nunavut)

Sami Representative: "if you know the cultural codes it is easier to become engaged in the communication" get more, better stories -- form relationships

Nunavut: know who you're reporting for and where you're reporting from

- Important point: The arctic is always represented in media through conflicts (by the global south for the most part)-- helicopter journalists, Cold War, "global warming", alcoholism, suicide, sexual assult, oil industry and environment

"Treat people as people and not as an interest!"











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