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State Awards for Public Information go to astute and fearless debaters

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 4.6.2024 11.30
Press release

The eight winners of the 2024 State Awards for Public Information were praised for calling attention to issues that would have otherwise been sidelined, shaking up entrenched attitudes, and promoting international perspectives in the Finnish public debate.

Minister of Science and Culture Sari Multala announced the State Awards for Public Information on 4 June. In her speech, the Minister thanked the award winners for increasing collective knowledge in society and inspiring social debate.

“I would like to thank and congratulate the Committee for Public Information and, above all, the winners of this year's awards for their high standards and for being fearless in sharing information with the public,” Minister Multala said.

Each winner received 18,500 euros, with the exception of the Friends of Queer History, which received a community prize of 20,000 euros. If the winner is a working group, each member will receive an equal share of the prize money.

The Ministry of Education and Culture gives the State Awards for Public Information annually on the proposal of the Committee for Public Information. The awards celebrate excellence and timeliness in publishing information. The winners have communicated reliable and evidence-based information to the general public in ways that are understandable, inspiring, responsible and diverse. Information can also be communicated by means of art.

State Awards for Public Information 2024

Andreas Koivisto and Tom Björklund: Ikikallion tarinoita - Urbergets berättelser (Aviador)

The Vantaa City Museum's exhibition and book Ikikallion tarinoita continue the authors' multifaceted and long-term work to tell prehistory and early history in an accessible way. The narrative and illustrations focus on the children and their families who lived in the present-day Vantaa area. In Ikikallion tarinoita, the natural environment plays the narrator's role, which represents continuity from the Stone Age to the present day. Life in the past millennium is anchored in the local environment, which can still be explored today. The child characters from the Stone Age to the beginning of modern times are richly and realistically portrayed as actors in their own environment. The stories convey the harsh conditions of life in the past, but also the caring nature of life, in a way that is appropriate to the child's level of knowledge. The book about the exhibition offers a Finnish and Swedish narrative within the same covers. The varied illustrations invite the reader to explore the section published in the other national language, and the book can also be used for language practice.

Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo

Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo have used art and research to deepen our understanding of the diversity and endangerment of Finnish natural forests. They combine insightful research, literary tradition and documentary video and photography. Their work culminates in the final book of the Forest Trilogy, published in 2023, Pohjoistuulen metsä (Hiilinielu tuotanto and Miellotar) and an exhibition in various cities. Pohjoistuulen metsä is a depiction of Finland's natural forests as a life-sustaining biodiverse space. It depicts the rich ecosystems that northern coniferous forests are at their best. The exhibition also deals with the threat and loss of forest nature. In addition to this book, the authors have published Puiden kansa (1997), a book on Finnish forest mythology, and Metsänhoidollisia toimenpiteitä (2009), a book on the downsides of forestry.

Ilmari Käihkö

Ilmari Käihkö has expertly explained the war in Ukraine to the general public in various media. Käihkö's analyses of the Russian war of aggression are dispassionate, clear and based on extensive international research. War propaganda makes things look black and white, because the parties need to portray the situation as hopeful for themselves, but Käihkö strives for objectivity and points out the grey shades of the war situation. Käihkö has a uniquely broad international experience as a researcher and the ability to bring a broad perspective to the Finnish debate on war in a clear and calm manner. As well as contributing to the public debate as a war researcher, Käihkö distinguished himself as a non-fiction writer in early 2024. He published a book, Sotilaan päiväkirja – kuinka rauhanturvaaminen muuttui kriisinhallinnaksi (Gaudeamus). The book sparked a much-needed debate on the daily life of crisis management forces in UN operations.

Ville Mäkipelto and Paavo Huotari: Sensuroitu – Raamatun muutosten vaiettu historia (Otava)

Sensuroitu – Raamatun muutosten vaiettu historia explores the multi-step journey of the Bible with a scholarly yet lay-friendly approach. This ambitiously written encyclopaedia sheds light on how sacred texts have been altered and censored over the centuries for political and religious purposes. The expertise of authors Ville Mäkipello and Paavo Huotari opens up new perspectives on the manuscript that has had the greatest impact on humanity and how it is seen through research. The Bible becomes interesting in a new way for readers of all ages and backgrounds. This multi-layered book shows how crucial language is to our understanding, and how cultural meanings and ways of thinking travel unnoticed along with language.

Oskari Onninen

Oskari Onninen is a freelance journalist who writes and speaks on a wide range of topics, especially related to culture, media and science, in various media. Onninen brings researched information to life through personal portraits and wide-ranging writing approaches. He takes an in-depth approach to his subjects and finds non-mainstream perspectives in his texts. In this way, he often manages to surprise even the most experienced reader. Onninen is an active participant in public debate, including on social media, and is not afraid to expose himself to criticism. This is also reflected in his choice to write sharp media criticism, a brave act for a freelance journalist working in a small country. Without Onninen, much less would be known and talked about in Finland about culture and its many meanings.

Shadia Rask

Shadia Rask has contributed extensively to the current discussion on equality and equity, inequality and racism. She actively shares research knowledge as a social debater and columnist, whose analyses and contributions can be found on Yleisradio, Taloustaito and Image. In addition to her research work on the well-being and health of individuals, communities and populations, Shadia Rask, PhD, is also an important role model: she can communicate about complex issues that raise social tensions in a constructive, humane and persuasive way, basing her analysis and arguments on research evidence.

Leena Valkeapää: Kansallispuvun kulttuurihistoria (Vastapaino)

Kansallispuvun kulttuurihistoria is a definitive book on national costumes. It traces the costume's early role as a political tool during the national romantic awakening and its establishment during the inter-war period as an expression of provincial spirit and as a practical and beautiful costume for all festive occasions. Valkeapää also provides a background to the commercial use of female figures in national costume and their subsequent commentary in contemporary art. Valkeapää does well to point out that the national costume and its changing, transgressive use is a living cultural heritage. In the 2020s, the use of national costume and its components is also a contribution to the discourse for sustainable dress, natural materials, craftsmanship and community. Special mention should be made of the successful illustrations and layout of the work.

Friends of Queer History Association

Founded in 2020, the Friends of Queer History (Sateenkaarihistorian ystävät ry) promotes the research and recording of rainbow history and understanding diversity of gender and sexuality. Highlighting one's own history is particularly important for communities who have been discriminated against and persecuted due to lack of knowledge. The association's informative website, in Finnish, Swedish and English is user-friendly and provides access to rich content. It offers articles popularising research in the form of an online magazine and provides guidance and advice on collecting and presenting information and cultural heritage in the field. The association's activists have also participated in various media projects (e.g. the Finland is Queer documentary series), which has brought these issues to wider public attention.

The Community Prize is awarded to the Friends of Queer History Association.

Inquiries: Henriikka Mustajoki, Secretary General, The Committee for Public Information, tel +358 40 7335 935, [email protected]