Alumni Profile: Kimmo Lundén

Kimmo Lundén

Photo: Juha Roininen/EUP-IMAGES

Green Templeton alumnus Kimmo Lundén (Journalist Fellow, 2008) works as a business and economics reporter at the Finnish Newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Maaseudun Tulevaisuus is by readership Finland’s second-largest daily newspaper, published both in print and digital. Kimmo graduated from the University of Turku (MSc Economics, 1989), and studied at the London School of Economics (Industrial Relations an personnel management, 1989-1990). He has spent over 30 years in the journalism industry in various Finnish newspapers and business technology magazines.

Here he reflects on his time at Green Templeton

I came to the University of Oxford and its Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism to find out where the newspaper business is headed in the digital age. At the time, in 2008, media’s business model was in change because of the web and online news. It still is.

Reuters Institute runs a Journalist Fellowship Program and I was among the first journalist group from Finland to take part in the one-year programme. I was sent by The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, which for provided me the stipend and opportunity to study at the Reuters Institute.

So, I and my family – dear wife Tuula and our sons Joakim and Jaakko-Juhani – moved together to Oxford before the programme and the term started in September. We rented a home in Summertown, Osberton Road. Our sons were then 8 and 11 years and we reported them to local state schools. Joakim, 11, started at The Cherwell School and Jaakko-Juhani at the Wolvercote preliminary school.

For J-J the beginning and the first days at the school were somewhat challenging as he had not yet started English language courses in his school in Finland. Anyhow, we were very pleased with the standard of tuition in both of their schools in Oxford. Jaakko-Juhani got the help he needed from his assistant teacher in the beginning. His primary teacher, Mr Harris, was very professional.

When the next term started in January, Jaakko-Juhani held his first presentation in English – I remember his topic was Finnish sauna. So, both boys got friends in their schools and the year was a good experience for all of us.

Our daily life in Oxford continued and I started my studies and research at the Reuters Institute.

At the beginning of the Autumn term I applied to become a member of the newly founded Green Templeton Boat Club. I had rowed before longboats in Finland, but rowing eights is and was for me a totally different sport.

According to the Institute’s staff, I was the first Journalist Fellow to take part of the College’s rowing team’s exercises. For me, it was an excellent way to know better fellow students from all over the world, and learn, how to row eights.

I used to row stroke blade. After those three terms my physics condition was in much better shape, thanks for all the various exercises and bump competitions on the river.

I believe there is a future for printed newspapers, alongside the web, especially for those newspapers which are able to re-invent their core businesses and are able to link it with their readers and audiences.

Shortly I realized that the same questions are for all the media, not only for business media. Globally.

During and after those years I had seen in my work, how the owners and newsroom executives of prominent medias have cut their costs and editorial staff – without having a clear vision on how the business will look after some years, even after some months. Just cutting costs is not a business plan.

The problem for the online news industry so far has been that the advertising revenue is insufficient to cover the lost advertising revenue from print or all of the costs of online content production.

Is the market for paid news failing? Is the need for news failing? No.

Kimmo With Michael Pierre in college gardens

Kimmo With Head Gardener Michael Pierre in college gardens

As Professor Robert Picard put it bluntly in our fellows’ seminar and later on, when I interviewed him: ‘In a place like Reuters Institute, what you can get is not all the answers but a lot of new questions about what and where the news industry is heading to.’

There ain’t any single answer or business model to follow. That’s what I have come across during preparing my thesis, interviewing academics, editors and journalists – and later, when I returned back to Finland to work again as a journalist.

In time – after many papers and titles have tried and possibly gone to wall, the market will eventually have publishers, which have found their core competence and ways to monetize it. Some new, some old mainstream titles and news brands.

For now, in the fall of 2023, The Reuters Institute celebrated its 40th Anniversary of the Journalist Fellowship Programme. Also I followed the invitation to the anniversary and seminar which gathered journalists and fellows all over the world. The gathering during the weekend was a moment to remain friendships, a reunion of the Journalist Fellowship programme. 700 journalists from 96 countries have taken part to the community.

The Green Templeton College brings me always warm memories.  The time I spent in Oxford and learnings at its Reuters Institute Fellowship programme has helped me and other journalists in Finland to invent new paths in our journalistic occupation: our important role in democracy –  analysing and reporting the society we live in.