Rewarding the Hard Work of Journalism
A range of journalism prizes from Bonnier support the best in journalism in three different countries.
Bonnier editors and publishers talk about some of their most important publications of the year and the impact they’ve had.
Dagens Nyheter’s revelations of an IT scandal at the Swedish Department of Transportation was the biggest political news of the year. The reporting led to the departure of several ministers and dominated public debate for a number of months.
“Investigative journalism has seldom been as important as it is now. Mikael Holmström’s and Kristoffer Örstadius’ investigation of the actions of the Department of Transportation have shaken things up and resulted in big changes. It shows how important it is to set aside resources for this type of reporting.”
Editor-in-Chief, Dagens Nyheter
In May 2017, Munich-based Piper Verlag published Denunciation, a book with stories from North Korea.
“The author’s pseudonym is Bandi, a literary writer who throughout the past decades has become a sharp critic of the North Korean regime, which he blames for mass starvation and human suffering. In his work, Bandi records the suffering of common North Koreans who have no one they can commiserate with and who are imprisoned in their own state. The stories were smuggled out of North Korea and have attracted a great deal of attention in Germany, both by media and the public, as Bandi offers a unique insight into the private lives of North Koreans.”
Felicitas von Lovenberg
Publisher, Piper Verlag
Mikael is single, poor and mentally ill. After having fought for eight years to get proper care, he’s given up, pulled down his house and escaped to the woods. KIT follows Mikael’s battle in real time, over fields and meadows, to a watchtower on the shores of Lake Vänern. This is a story of a human being as well as a blunt portrayal of a badly leaking social welfare system.
“Few reporters would take Mikael’s case since the issue of responsibility is messy and the story isn’t complete. Mikael’s fight with the system isn’t unique, but that’s what makes the reporting of particular interest to the reader. Many recognize themselves in Mikael’s helplessness and are actively concerned with his disappearance. And the story of his fight isn’t done yet.”
A police raid on a government agency. A general director fired. Eight people suspected of crime. One whistleblower who had enough. Per Hermanrud’s and Phil Poystis’ investigation of the National Property Board on TV4’s Kalla fakta (cold facts) investigative journalism show contains everything that a real scoop should have.
“An example of extraordinary journalistic craft, which was nominated for Sweden’s top TV award, Kristallen. It’s more important than ever now, in a time where dark forces want to undermine democracy and legislators want to restrict freedom of expression, that media has owners and management that protect investigative journalism.”
Program Director for News and Current Affairs, TV4
In 2017, Popular Science ran a multipart online series that focused on the Trump Administration’s efforts to disempower the US Environmental Protection Agency. Over the course of seven months, Popular Science ran more than a dozen deeply reported stories that featured exclusive government documents, debunking of anti-science mythology, and a hard look at the vital role this agency plays in our country.
“Our coverage of the EPA was a high point not just for 2017, but for the 145-year history of Popular Science. Amid all the hype and partisan politics, we were a clarion voice that sided only with science and reason.”
Editor-in-Chief, Popular Science
Äripäev’s best investigative story in 2017 was a story done together with Denmark’s Berlinske on Danske Bank in Estonia, which over two and a half years handled EUR 2.5 billion in gray money connected with the Azerbaijani dictatorship.
“A classic story about international money laundering. The story showed how the Danske local branch in Estonia organized extra profit from Azerbaijani transactions and sold the service in Baku. Our follow-up stories are showing that this was probably well-known in Copenhagen as well.
“The impact of this story was bigger in Denmark, where politicians reacted vocally, and we probably will see final results this year. The head of the Estonian branch of Danske left his position a bit earlier, and after the story we understand why. Danske Bank also strengthened supervision at the central office.”
Bonnier Business Polska’s most important journalism was published already on January 16, 2017. The story was an investigation by business daily Puls Biznesu into how PiS, the ruling party in Poland, fills top positions in state-owned companies with politicians and their friends and family members. The results were remarkable and included over 1,000 positions. That day, the entire paper was devoted to the investigation, with 24 pages of content on the most controversial cases as well as editorial commentary and texts. For even more impact, the paper took the unusual step of publishing a complete list of names and positions.
“It was tedious and time-consuming work but definitely worth it in the end. Our investigation was the hottest topic in Poland for a number of days. We’re convinced that Puls Biznesu has an important role when it comes to investigating and bringing attention to this kind of situation. Especially considering state-owned companies make up a big part of the Polish economy.”
CEO for Bonnier Business Polska
The September edition of Costume Norway magazine became a sensation in the country with an exclusive interview with Iman Meskini, star of the innovative international hit TV series Skam; Meskini also graced the cover. The issue was historic as it was the first time one of Norway’s biggest fashion magazines featured a young Norwegian Muslim woman wearing a hijab on its cover.
“The public reacted immediately, and the cover was talked about by press both in Norway as well as internationally, with an overwhelmingly positive response. A number of media have celebrated Costume Norway for its choice of cover girl and the magazine received quite a few thank-you letters for choosing to show diversity. The cover has been seen by over a million people in social media!”
Editor-in-Chief, Costume Norway
An important book this year from Albert Bonniers Förlag was the Swedish edition of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, about the slave Cora who sometime before the U.S. Civil War escapes from a plantation in the south, via an actual underground railway that slaves built.
“The book is a mix of Roots and Gulliver’s Travels, and succeeds in mixing the factual with the fantastical in a truly masterful way. The novel was a phenomenon, winning all the big book awards in the U.S. and praised by both Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Whitehead’s gripping interpretation of the savagery of slavery and the consequences that are still present today make history come alive in a way that only literature can. But the book’s stunning success worldwide, including in Sweden, showed that the loaded question of slavery and racism is hardly an American issue – we also live with the effects and it colors our world view today.”
Literary Director, Albert Bonniers Förlag
MTV News investigated homicides committed in Helsinki between the years 2000 and 2015. The report, published on Feb. 8, 2017, found that women were more exposed to crime in Helsinki than in other parts of Finland; that in almost all cases with a female victim the woman knew the perpetrator; that those involved were often intoxicated; and that in most cases, the crime was committed with a sharp-edged weapon.
“Plenty of thorough reports have been made about homicides in Finland both in journalism and in jurisprudence. But this was the first time ever when this kind of information was gathered and put on an interactive map, viewable by all on our website MTV.fi. All this is to help the audience figure out not only the amount, but also the circumstances of this kind of crime in the Finnish capital during a period of 15 years. The report is a smart combination of data and investigative journalism. The amount of raw data was immense to sort out, but without expertise in crime and justice and without excellent contacts to sources, it would have been impossible to create such a solid and detail-rich online report.”
Head of News and Current Affairs, MTV
Malmö has huge problems with crazy driving, with drivers speeding way above 100 kph downtown. All too often accidents happen, and in February 2015 a car drove up on the sidewalk in the middle of the city, crushing everything in its path. Including a mother and her tiny son in a stroller.
Sydsvenskan told their story in November 2017, first with an extensive feature and then in a long series of follow up articles.
“Certain stories go straight to the heart. The woman who was run over, Anna, was badly brain damaged and now lives in a bare rental apartment. She isn’t allowed to visit her son and is rarely allowed to see her own mother. When we started to investigate what happened after the accident, we found – beyond deep sorrow – fragmentation, deep conflicts and incomprehensible decisions by authorities. In the text, we chose to let as many different people as possible have their say. The conclusion, without a doubt, is that here there were no winners, only people who lost big.”
Business daily Børsen has devoted many pages to the challenges of the tight demands of Danish Immigration Policy and the implications for the Danish business community and its leaders.
“We have had a significant number of articles in Børsen about, for instance, managing directors leaving Denmark because their wives could not get permanent residence permits in Denmark. The articles in Børsen have resulted to a situation where the Danish Government is now considering changing the laws.”
Managing Editor, Børsen
Read more here (in Danish).
The terror attack in Stockholm in April 2017 was among the biggest national news of the year in Sweden. Just hours after the attack and before the police made it public, Expressen was first out with a photo from security camera footage of Rakhmat Akilov that made it possible to identify and arrest him.
“I stood in the small auditorium at Expressen’s offices in front of some 60 advertisers when the notification flashed on my mobile about the insane driving. It pinged and I finished my talk about DiTV and went up to the news desk. There, I understood immediately that something horrible had happened.”
The most important investigation – with a marked positive impact in 2017 – was yet another disclosure of outrageous costs of medical materials and pharmaceuticals incurred in public hospitals. Finance journalist Andreja Rednak, who is a specialist in the Slovenian health care system and public funding, released a well-documented story on unjustified differences in prices for the same medicines and medical devices among various hospitals in the same system. In addition – not only did prices differ enormously just among Slovenian hospitals, they were as much as four times higher than in Sweden and five times higher than in Germany. The main reason behind such elevated prices are wholesalers of medical equipment, and their constant, premeditated obstruction of public procurement procedures and contracts. A special saga in this respect are coronary stents, it goes way back to 2013. However, by the end of 2017 the largest Slovenian hospital ran the new tender and the result were much lower prices. Now, at least in some cases, Slovenians pay Swedish prices – instead of much higher Slovenian prices for coronary stents.
“It’s no news that content bestsellers of 2017 for Finance and Slovenia are bitcoin-related articles, together with articles on job opportunities, grants, subsidies and other public funds aggregators, and business opportunities news. Nevertheless, we still strongly believe that media are and should remain a watchdog, uncovering irregularities in public spending and distorted value models. In the time of all-digital and material truth and fake truth – being in a scandal on the front page of Finance is still a disgrace. We like to give people and companies a chance to improve. And from time to time – as seen in our above-mentioned investigation about health care costs – they do.”
In 2017, the business world change rapidly, something Dagens industri chose to reflect very clearly in its journalism. Besides Dagens industri’s natural focus on news and analysis within its core area – stock exchanges, markets, business and entrepreneurs – the business daily recruited star reporter Andreas Cervenka and gave him the special task of following the new digital business world. The news daily also increased its environment and sustainability coverage both in news and opinion pieces. And Dagens industri collaborated with Mentor, which works actively in the business sector with some of the biggest issues of the day: integration in Swedish society.
“This year it was a given to expand Dagens industri’s world and put extra efforts into coverage of everything from how tech giants in Silicon Valley are changing the world, to what climate threats, the #metoo revolution and the immigrant crisis means for Swedish companies – and those who work in them. I’m proud that Dagens industri can provide perspective and depth, and even through our opinion pages some guidance, on these difficult issues. And I’m proud our readers so clearly show that they appreciate it.”
Editor-in-Chief, Dagens industri