Long-term editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, the largest subscription newspaper in Finland and the Nordic countries, Janne Virkkunen is also a former Chairman of the International Press Institute as well as Friends of History Society of Finland and a board member of Finnish History Days. “Knowledge of history has been an outstanding resource throughout my career”, says Janne who majored in political history.
“Journalist writes in the moment, but it cannot be understood without knowing the background. Understanding history makes journalist’s work easier because the background research is often as if already done”, Janne explains. For Janne, knowing history is part of general education and therefore necessary for everyone: “It is difficult to understand society if you don’t know how it´s built. Even more difficult is to evaluate how society can move forward if you don´t know how it got here”.
Janne evaluates our organization based on its international potential. Bringing historians’ knowledge into the work of conflict resolution is especially important to him: “Historical knowledge should be utilised more in conflict resolution.
History politics and the use of history are an everyday phenomenon, but we have difficulties recognizing them. There is enough work to be done here even for a larger movement”, Janne says.
He sees developing and expanding the International Network of Historians without Borders as the most important task for HWB in the following years. He takes the example from the Reporters without Borders, which he considers one of the most important actors in the field of freedom of the speech. According to Janne, their basic pillar is the widespread network of sub-organisations, on which operations are based on. Janne sees HWB developing in the same direction: “The founders of Reporter without Borders were probably not aware how important organization they were creating. As they did, Historians without Borders has an equally excellent idea”. As a board member, Janne is working to expand the HWB network internationally.
Janne is a founding member of Historians without Borders in Finland and he has acted as board’s vice-chair from 2016.