Mateleena Ylipski

By Enoch Sithole: Matleena Ylikoski journalism lecturer at Finland’s Tampere University, is about to launch one of the first courses in sustainable journalism. Ajenda caught up with her at the recent meeting on sustainable journalism, which brought educators and media workers from various countries to Nairobi between 23 and 25 March 2023. 

Ajenda:   You teach sustainable journalism: what exactly do you teach? 

Matleena Ylikoski (MY): Good question! This is our first course in this fall. I am building the concept and I am recruiting lecturers for different areas of sustainability. We are going to work with students in workshops and explore the concept of sustainability, only after these workshops I will be able to answer on what is it that I am going to teach and the course will be about. But basically, we just want to cover all the three dimensions of sustainability.

Ajenda: What are the three dimensions?

MY: These are the ecological, or environmental, the economic and the social dimensions. The social responsibility and social sustainability are key. I suspect that globalisation and the global thinking is not so popular nowadays. There are more and more people that are turning into themselves and nationalism is growing. So, I think my young students will be keen to want to see things in the global perspective, but I cannot assume it will be like that.

Ajenda: Are you saying sustainability is linked to globalisation? 

MY: I think so. I think that if you ask yourself, ‘what is sustainable?’ You have to ask what is sustainable for the globe? And then also ‘what is sustainable for us’, but they are linked together? The climate change is a perfect example. We (in the global north) have our own troubles due to climate change, which are different from those from the global south, but we have to see the connection. You always have to have a global perspective when dealing with such issues. It’s like a mindset. 

Ajenda: Is your area of research linked to sustainability?

MY: My research is about the diversity of journalism. I think diversity is one key element of sustainability, because if we don’t represent everybody in the society, if we don’t hear everybody, if their voices are not heard in the media, it’s not sustainable. We cannot keep some part of society away from journalism. In journalism, sustainability must be in the story. I don’t mean that you have to write everything in the story like all the global perspectives and how this is connected to this and this and this, but you have to have those questions in your mind so that you understand widely. It’s good journalism, actually. As a journalist, you have to be interested on how your work is affecting the environment, social order and the climate. You also have to make sure that what you do is connected to global trends.