Meet our MIJ-students
Meet some of the students at the Master's Programme in Investigative Journalism. Where do they come from, why are they here, and what are their plans for the future?
" ... to gain insights to stories that ought to be investigated"
Stirred by changes in journalism and changing journalism, Karin Johansson chose to study Investigative Journalism.
Twenty-first century journalism is marred by online news sourced by all and sundry, and misinformation. On top of that jobs in journalism are increasingly becoming short-term contracts: security and stability for working journalists are becoming rarer. Yet, Karin Johansson resolved to establish herself in the profession with greater resolve for the digital age.
A practising journalist at Östersunds Posten, Karin enrolled on Master’s in Investigative Journalism at JMG, not only to achieve an academic qualification but also to satiate her curiosity, to find answers for the challenges in journalism, and to contribute to the profession in a meaningful and credible ways either locally or nationally or globally. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall, and studied TV journalism for a semester at Aarhus University in Denmark. She interned at Sveriges Radio and worked at the local edition of TV4, and went on to work fulltime at Östersunds Posten. In 2016, she chose to study the Master’s programme started by the JMG in order to learn more about investigative journalism in the backdrop of globalization, digital journalism and the unfolding opportunities for independent journalists.
You learn new things everyday…about the society, about the system.
Consciously, Karin chose journalism as a professional career albeit aware of the pay packages and professional instabilities. She asserts: “My choice of being a journalist was not about income but because of the ideas…a lot of ideas. Now I can go to learn a little bit about lot of things. You meet a bus driver one day, then a professor, or a politician. You learn new things everyday…about the society, about the system.”
She is studying investigative journalism (2016-2017) to build upon her existing journalistic skills and to gain insights to stories that ought to be investigated. She is concerned of the misinformation on-line, and its repercussions on readers. Moreover, she is worried about the cutting-down of staff in the newspapers and broadcast organizations. But, not a pessimist: she sees the need for journalists to reinvent their storytelling techniques and find new platforms because professional journalists are valued for credibility.
Hailing from the county of Jämtland in northern Sweden, Karin shifted to Gothenburg to pursue her Master’s degree. She is cherishing her determination to come down here albeit fraught with some misses, and the comforts of home and hometown. She pines for her Frans the dog but her studies are also a priority, and Gothenburg is a happening place…’an air of warmth and welcome’!
Upon completing her Master’s programme she aims to work as a journalist, or to be in the academics to teach and research on a topic of urgent concern.
...exploring newer platforms for investigative journalism
Currently Karin is experiencing new ways of working, developing contacts, exploring newer platforms for investigative journalism (crowd-funding) at a time when the green shoots of independent journalism are emerging. She is refining her story-telling techniques and how to add in-depth content to news items. “I am used to write articles and that’s what I have down. Now I have the time to sit down and look at the articles. We discuss the projects we are doing. We analyse them, ask questions…why did you do this way and that way?”
Is it correct for journalists to vouch for an idealism and ideology of one’s choice, and campaign for their idealisms and ideologies through their work? Karin Johansson is aware of the activist- and campaign-journalism but she is neither Left nor Right nor Centre. Her ideological leanings are based on the grounds of ‘fairness’, and to work for a society that is ‘fair for all’.
The Master’s Programme at JMG has a combination of theoretical aspects and practical assignments that demands to be on the field and investigate an issue or topic of public importance. She says: “I came here to learn lot of things and be inspired… I like this data journalism and the new tools and programmes and how to collect information and analyse it.” Because the programme has experts in journalism and media giving guest lectures, and with a faculty at JMG with vast experience in research and reporting in all areas of journalism and media.
The composition of the class makes Karin feel that she is in the midst of international environment. The international students are helping her to build contacts and explore opportunities to work on collaborative projects that involves stories beyond one’s borders and territories.
Text and photos by Kovuuri G. Reddy
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Dimitru Stoianov: "Journalists bias should be towards public interest."
Facebook and Google have grabbed the traditional revenue models of newspapers, magazines and television channels: advertisements. They are also publishing and broadcasting mostly sourced by users! New is almost free (but comes with a price!). Corporatization of media is a reality: profit is the prime motive not the public service. In such an environment, there are people like Dumitru Stoianov determined more than ever to work as a journalist and work in the interest of the public.
From the landlocked Moldova, Dumitru Stoianov aka Dima, has unlocked his vistas and vision. His zeal to contribute to his country’s democratic institutions and deepening of democracy is palpable. After completing his Master’s in Investigative Journalism at JMG, he wants to be in journalism in order to enable the audience to make an informed choice because he is passionate and interested in the democratisation of Moldova.
Lofty goal? “It is a post-Soviet country, and the mentality is very post-Soviet I would say. We have a goal to become European country and the journalists have a word to say to that,” says Dima. He reckons journalists should be unbiased but if there is a bias the bias should in the public interest!
Moldova is different. We aim to become a stable and a powerful country and with a good powerful independent institutions. And, we need good journalists right now to help to do that.Moldova the nascent nation-state has two highways but has to choose one: Russia or EU? Which one and why? Dima infers that Scandinavian countries have established institutions which propel the democratic process irrespective of the Fourth Estate but that is not the case in his home country. “Moldova is different. We aim to become a stable and a powerful country and with a good powerful independent institutions. And, we need good journalists right now to help to do that.”
At the threshold of teenage, Dima chose to become a journalist, and he studied journalism in his under graduation, and started to work as a journalist. With technological advances impacting journalism, and the challenges journalism is facing (technical and editorial), and the need to have a qualification in higher education, he decided to study Master’s in Investigative Journalism.
Why at University of Gothenburg’s JMG?
“I just googled for Master’s in Investigative Journalism. I found one in London and one here in Gothenburg. And I chose this one. It is simple because Swedish Institute also gives scholarships for students like me…this Master’s course was eligible.”
You have to be always very relevant to the place where you are working as a journalist.
Many professions need a qualification but politics and journalism are always exempted. Because anyone can become a politician, anyone can become a journalist but it is not the case for a doctor or dentist, psychiatrist of psychologist. But a politician or a journalist should have copious common sense and a spirit to work in the interest of the people: for the greater common good of humanity at micro or macro level. Dima pinpoints out that journalists are people without skills but surmises that is a very challenging profession. Challenging because one has to interact with people, chase information, know what is public interest…it is not the most difficult thing but you can become irrelevant with time. “You have to be always very relevant to the place where you are working as a journalist. So, it is a very challenging profession.”
The Master’s in Investigative Journalism at JMG in Gothenburg has been up to his expectations especially the faculty, the environment in the city and also learned news aspects in his profession. He says, “I learned some things such as mobile journalism but I never understood its potential but this is the top thing I learned here.”
In a media environment, where publishing and broadcasting news echoes patriotic bias or nationalistic tone, Dima says there is a need for independent journalists like never before and to strengthen the public service broadcasters. He points to the news portal meduza which is anti-Putin but pro-Russia but biased towards public interest.
Text and photos by Kovuuri G. Reddy