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Thinking back of Haparanda. Viewpoints from the young

May 24, 2016

The Annual Barents Press International Conference in April Haparanda appeared unforgettable. According to many in attendance it was one of the best. We are very grateful to the hosts – Barents Press Sweden! What do the young participants think back about? Here’re some viewpoints from different countries.

Here we are! Super selfy by Tim Andersson

Louise Gustavsson, journalism student from Umeå University in Sweden:

The Barents Press International reunion in Haparanda was the first Barents Press meeting I attended. I didn’t really have any expectations before the weekend, but even so, I was pleasantly surprised. The meeting was very well arranged, from interpreters to coffee breaks. The lectures were interesting and well performed and there was well enough time to mingle.

For me as a student there was time to sit down and discuss questions about the future of journalism, differences in education between the countries, etc with other students from the region. During this meeting, I got the chance to meet new people from all over the Barents region and that is, in my opinion, the most important part of the Barents Press Network. Meeting people and networking is the first step of cooperation across the borders.

Elena Smurova, Murmansk University, Russia:

In the framework of the annual conference of Barents Press International there was a discussion about the future of journalism education. Participants were students and teachers from the Barents Region. One of the topics of discussion was: what’s the difference in the process of training future journalists in each country. Teachers from Scandinavia noted that their learning process is dominated by practice when students can try their hand in the profession. In Russia the theoretical basis prevails.

After the open discussion there was a separate seminar for students where they could get acquainted with each other. All students were divided into groups of four, one representative from each country. Each team was given a question which they had to discuss within 15 minutes and come to some conclusion. For instance the students were discussing if it is difficult to find work in the city and if it is popular to be a freelancer. Some participants noted that in order to find work one has to move to a larger city. The guys from the other group proposed to create a web-site where journalism students from around the Barents region could communicate and share news.

In general the majority of students were passionate about their future profession: someone is already working in the media, someone is just starting his/her career and are resolute about it. Each of them hopes to become a good journalist.

Students' seminar. Photo by Narmina Geibatova

Benedicte Wærstad, North University, Norway:

I was chosen as one of the lucky students to represent North University at Barents Press Annual Meeting this April in Haparanda. It was very interesting to be a part of such a great network for journalists all over the Barents Region. The program had a lot of interesting themes that provided more knowledge across the borders. We can learn from each other, and create more understanding across the borders with these meetings and networking. Social events in the evenings (including parties) is also important. After a weekend in Hapranda I now have new acquaintances and friends all over the Barents region. 

I think that it was very nice to attend the annual meeting and conference around. I have learned a lot of things that can be useful both as a journalist and a citizen in the Barents region. I thank Barents Press for the opportunity to participate in important discussions and learn a lot of new things about journalism and society in our neighbour-countries.

I want to write specifically about the part of the program that was for the students, which was very good. Both for the social part of it, that it was dedicated a specific time for us to meet was great, but also the important themes that the groups were given for discussion. The questions made us learn of each other and discuss journalism. It is very informative to meet students and journalists from other schools and countries. I hope we stay in touch. These are the questions we were given: Group A Check and, what is the difference? And why do you think that is? Group B (In your group): How do your educations differ, and why do you think that? Group C How should we establish good relations between journalism students of the Barents Region? Group D How does your future as journalist look? Freelance?

Alexei Kovalev speaks about "weapons" of media wars. Photo by Yana Dacenko.

Yana Dacenko, newspaper Archangelsk, Russia

 We’ve discussed a lot. Starting from the need of verification of the facts, the possibilities of using infographic, new approaches to storytelling in pictures and ending with the consequences of strengthening border control and the future of journalism education in the Barents region.

The report of the Ukrainian colleagues, Vlad Lavrov and Oleg Khomenyuk who were the first to open the archives of the former President of the Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych was especially interesting. Several days and nights they, along with volunteers, dried and scanned piles of documents fished out of the water near the ex-President’s estate . Thus was born the project "Yanukovich leaks" - a website where anyone can find officially documented secrets of the former government. This spring the journalists from Kiev have launched a new anti-corruption project which reveals the tax returns, the income and property of officials and their relatives.

The theme of the propaganda war between Russia the West was covered by Alexei Kovalev. Previously he worked in the RIA, so he is much in the know about the Agency: how to falsify the facts and create the news . After leaving RIA he started a project of his own where he disproved the false information in the Russian media. Now the project has become popular and most of the news are sent by volunteers.

Next year Russia is to host the annual conference. It is planned that the meeting will be held in the Karelian town of Sortavala. The Iinternational Board is already planning many interesting things.

Dear colleagues, thanks a lot for your interesting stories and nice pictures!

Translated by Tatiana Polkova