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Bonnier Journalistic Award goes to Minna Lindgren
By Esa Mäkinen
The Swedish media conglomerate Bonnier handed out its 2008 Awards for Journalism in Finland on Wednesday of last week.
Freelance journalist Minna Lindgren was the winner of the Bonnier journalists’ prize for Story of the Year in 2008.
Lindgren won the accolade for her article Isän kuolema (”My Father’s Death”), which was published in the April 2008 issue of Kuukausiliite, the monthly magazine supplement of Helsingin Sanomat.
Isän kuolema is a story of Lindgren’s father, who would have wanted to die in peace, without life extension and pointless treatment.
In practice, the bureaucracy of care homes and hospitals nevertheless makes it difficult to make a dying individual’s wishes come true.
According to the jury, the article is a simple and well-written story of the last attempt of a defenceless senior citizen to fight for his human dignity and to die in peace.
Moreover, it is a thought-provoking expression of opinion on the status of terminally ill patients in Finnish hospices in the 21st century, the jury says.
Lindgren says that the article has attracted a lot of attention. Since it was published, a number of authorities, including the National Institute for Health and Welfare, nursing staff, and those involved in working with dying individuals, have all got in touch with her.
Lindgren has been asked to make speeches in many places, and people have poured out their experiences.
”This was not a tragedy to me, as my father had prepared it all carefully”, Lindgren notes.
”Since then I have been reflecting on the question of how ordinary people are able to cope with their grief in this highly medicalised world”, Lindgren says.
Having previously worked as a radio and television journalist and as a head of programming at the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, mainly in the sphere of classical music, she requested an unpaid leave of absence and started to earn her living as a freelance writer.
The article published in Kuukausiliite, was actually Lindgren’s first piece as an "official" freelance journalist.
”This sort of thing is bound to encourage a 'beginner' writer like me”, laughs the 45-year-old.
The Bonnier journalists’ prize for Journalist of the Year in 2008 was handed out to two China correspondents, namely Katri Makkonen of YLE and Petri Saraste of MTV3, a Finnish commercial television station.
According to the jury, both Makkonen and Saraste have been reporting on difficult issues: the Sichuan earthquake, the disturbances in Tibet, and on the Beijing Olympic Games. The jury praised the multifaceted and personal reports filed by both correspondents.
The Disclosure of the Year 2008 award was taken by MTV3 journalists Salla Vuorikoski and Jussi Eronen for their reporting on the fraudulent WinCapita pyramid scheme.
The jury noted that the two had been among the first to report on the issue already in the autumn of 2008.
The Internet-based Ponzi scheme was one of the largest financial scams in Finnish history, reportedly involving around 10,000 people who invested a total of almost 100 million euros in the investment club WinCapita.
The annual prize in each series is worth EUR 7,500.
This was the eighth time when the Bonnier Journalism Awards were handed out in Finland.
Everyone is invited to send in proposals for worthy candidates, while a jury comprising influential persons in the media sector makes the decisions on the eventual winners.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 19.3.2009
ESA MÄKINEN / Helsingin Sanomat