The man behind the news

Tapani Leisti has followed the Barents cooperation as a journalist for a couple of decades. Today Leisti makes news stories for Finnish radio, television and internet especially in Finnish Lapland but also all over the Barents region as a journalist of the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle.


Tapani Leisti presenting Yle studios in Rovaniemi for the Barents journalists in the Barents Mediasphere journalist course in Rovaniemi in 2014. Photo by Arto Vitikka, Arctic Centre.

Leisti says that language skills and journalists’ networks help him in his work on the Barents region. Besides Finnish, he understands English, Norwegian and Swedish, but getting information in Russian he finds problematic. He maintains contacts with fellow journalists for example by attending the annual meetings of Barents Press International, the network for the journalists of the Barents region.

– I usually draw inspiration from the news stories of NRK, SVT or IBO news. As a source of information I use authorities, researchers and journalists in Finland, Norway and Sweden and their press releases, reports and reviews.

Detente, peace, trust and a sense of proportion

Tapani Leisti started as a journalist in 1987. He worked in Helsinki in the 1990’s so he missed the boom of the Barents Cooperation.

– My understanding is that the cooperation in the Barents region has developed since that time. Today the cooperation seems to focus on economy, environment, human rights and security policy. Lately there has been discussion about issues related to refugees and immigrants.

Leisti brings up some issues that have caused drawbacks during the past years.

– Russia has restricted the rights of its citizens related for example to freedom of speech and cross-border cooperation of NGO’s, and the development is propaganda-oriented. Russian military intervention in Crimea has also caused tension between Russia and EU and other Western countries.

– Global challenges, such as the amount of refugees, poverty and climate change, will also have direct or indirect effects on the cooperation. The policies of the world’s strongest nations have not solved these problems but made them even worse. Instead, what we need is detente, peace, trust and a sense of proportion.

Amid these global concerns, does Tapani Leisti believe in a brighter future? He says yes – if we just understand that we need to change our perspective.

– We need to be very careful with the natural resources and avoid new natural catastrophes. We need to see our pure and untouched nature as a special economic value. It is the prerequisite for well-being.

Interview by Johanna Westerlund


Barents Euro-Arctic Council official website 2021

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