Juha Kauppinen is an award-winning freelance journalist and author – and a biology graduate from the University of Jyväskylä. He is specialised in investigative journalism and has written boldly about nature and environment. Kauppinen thinks the student community had a significant role in shaping his personality.
Nature has been Juha Kauppinen’s hobby for thirty years. Already as a ten-year-old boy from Hämeenlinna he cycled to the forest near his family’s summer cottage to watch birds. After upper secondary school, biology was a natural choice for studies. Kauppinen applied to many universities and the University of Jyväskylä was high on the list because some of his friends from Hämeenlinna had moved to study there.
“In my dreams, Jyväskylä was a lively town with a lot of young people, and it actually proved to be true,” he says.
In addition to studies, for Kauppinen the best thing in Jyväskylä was the community spirit in his class as well as with the students of the previous and next classes. In addition to biology, or more precisely ecology and environmental care, he studied journalism and became the editor-in-chief of the student union journal Jylkkäri in 2000–2001.
“Biology students were probably a quite separate group at the University, but I got acquainted with dozens of nice and smart people,” he says. “It was priceless. Looking afterwards it considerably affected what kind of person I became.”
In his journalism career, Kauppinen is specialised in reporting about the consequences of human behaviour for nature. He studied and wrote his master’s thesis in the centre of excellence in evolutionary ecology at JYU. It created a strong knowledge base for writing about nature and the environment. “Teaching at the university was mostly of high quality,” Juha says.
After his stint as the editor-in-chief of Jylkkäri, he worked as a journalist for the magazine Suomen Luonto in 2002 and found his professional self as a journalist. The magazine had an open atmosphere and many of his colleagues there came to influence his work.
The courage to write fearless articles grew only after several years of experience as a journalist. His work as an investigative journalist strongly reflects academic values: readers have the right to know how things are. For a journalist, continuous learning is a cornerstone and a way of life.
“So far I haven’t actually obtained any further education but I am always reading research papers, popularised international articles on biology and anything online to learn more and deepen my competence and understanding in biology,” he says.
Kauppinen started to write about the problems of the Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo and authorities’ attitudes towards nature in 2012. He was among the first to write critically about the mine. His long-term dedication and high level of knowledge in environmental matters gained him the Great Journalist Award of Bonnier in 2012 and the Lumilapio Award for investigative journalism in 2013.
He wrote his first book, Talvivaaran vangit (‘Prisoners of Talvivaara’), in cooperation with Sampsa Oinaala in 2016. His second book, Monimuotoisuus (‘Diversity’), is a feature story about a trip to locations where Finnish species are disappearing. For the second book, Kauppinen received the Kanava Award in 2019. In his book, he explains how intact nature has dramatically disappeared from Finland, as it has elsewhere in the world. Even though much of the diversity of nature has been lost, he thinks we still have hope to save it.
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