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Johanna Vehkoo appointed Professor of Practice in Journalism

Published on 15.6.2022
Tampere University
Työelämäprofessori Johanna Vehkoo
Journalist and non-fiction writer Johanna Vehkoo, who has specialised in disinformation and fact-checking in her work as a journalist, has been appointed Professor of Practice in Journalism at Tampere University for the 2022–2023 academic year

Johanna Vehkoo will take up the post of Professor of Practice in Journalism at Tampere University in August 2022. The overarching theme of Vehkoo’s year as Professor of Practice is journalism’s relationship with factuality and misinformation, and its second theme is the relationship between journalism and digital technology.

“I became interested in misinformation and fact-checking at the beginning of the 2010s while writing my first book, Painokoneet seis – Kertomuksia uuden journalismin ajasta (‘Stop the Press! Tales from the Era of New Journalism’, Teos, 2011). These themes have since become an increasingly important focus in my work.”

Johanna Vehkoo is one of the foremost experts in this field in Finland: She has been writing a series called Valheenpaljastaja (‘Lie Detector’) for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle since 2015, hosted a podcast with the same title, released a book called Valheenpaljastajan käsikirja (‘Lie Detector’s Handbook’) in 2019 and taught thousands of people over the years how to verify information and fact-check in practice.

“At least since 2015, there have been good grounds to say that the ability to recognise misinformation and fact-checking skills have never been as important as they are right now. First there was the refugee crisis and racist disinformation, next the United States presidential elections and the Brexit vote, and then the pandemic and misleading health information. And now, of course, we are seeing information operations and propaganda related to the war.”

Vehkoo considers the professorship of practice to be a great opportunity to temporarily dive into the world of academia. The last time she was able to do so was at the University of Oxford, where she spent two years as a fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism from 2009 to 2011.

“This is a luxury for a journalist because an academic environment facilitates in-depth study and examination of one’s own field in ways for which there is no room when working as a journalist.”

Johanna Vehkoo is an alumna of Tampere University, from which she graduated in 2008.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the students. It will be interesting to see how university education in journalism has changed since my own days as a student.”

“My goal is to see the students who participate in my workshop courses take their place at the forefront in verification and fact-checking in Finland,” Vehkoo says about her vision.

Johanna Vehkoo’s second theme for the 2022–2023 academic year is the relationship between journalism and digital technology.

“The purpose of my second theme is to introduce the students to critical journalism about new technologies, such as algorithmic accountability reporting. I’m not just talking about them understanding data and technological features but also contemplating the impacts of technology on democracy. As a journalist, I’m particularly interested in the intersections of technology and democracy.”

“Understanding both themes will make the students well-equipped for working life. Although technologies, platforms and verification tools change, the basis of critical thinking remains the same.”

Each year, the post of Professor of Practice is given to an experienced journalist who is expected to share their knowledge and experience with the students and contribute to the development of education and research in journalism, says Jyrki Vuorinen, Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences.

“The appointment group had strong grounds for selecting Johanna Vehkoo. Vehkoo is a highly accomplished journalist and researcher in journalism. She has published several books and articles on the digitalisation of journalism, fact-checking, crowdsourcing of information for journalistic purposes, and online harassment. Vehkoo is exceptionally skilled at fact-checking and recognising disinformation, and she can be regarded as a foremost expert on these topics in Finland.”

Jyrki Vuorinen adds that the appointment group also regarded Johanna Vehkoo’s international networks as one of her strengths. Along with her career in journalism, she has also been a fellow at the University of Oxford (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) and the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. Over the years, she has also collaborated with Tampere University’s Tampere Research Centre for Journalism, Media and Communication (COMET).

“In her work plan, Vehkoo also outlined a teaching schedule strongly focused on key themes of journalism, such as fact-checking and the relationship of journalism with technology. This is a particularly significant merit when it comes to the post in question. The ideas that she brought up fit excellently with Tampere University’s profile and the goals and long-term objectives of the education in journalism.”

The former visiting professorship in journalism, now called the professorship of practice in journalism, has existed at Tampere University since 2007. This academic year (2021–2022), the post is held by journalist Ritva Leino. The appointment group tasked with recruiting a Professor of Practice for the 2022–2023 academic year included Jutta Högmander from the Aamulehti newspaper and Marko Ala-Fossi, Heikki Heikkilä, Timo Hämäläinen, Milla Madetoja, Iiris Ruoho, Meri Vuorela, Jyrki Vuorinen and Riitta Yrjönen from Tampere University.


More information: Johanna Vehkoo johanna [at] 

Jyrki Vuorinen jyrki.vuorinen [at] +358 (0)40 8490 110

The previous Professors of Practice in Journalism (the post was called Visiting Professor of Journalism until 2018):
2007–2008 Hannu Olkinuora
2008–2009 Heikki Hellman
2009–2010 Hanna Rajalahti
2010–2011 Hannu Pulkkinen
2011–2012 Iikka Vehkalahti
2012–2013 Tuomo Pietiläinen
2013–2014 Elina Grundström
2014–2015 Renny Jokelin
2015–2016 Rauli Virtanen
2016–2017 Hanna Nikkanen
2017–2018 Jussi Pullinen
2018–2019 Elina Paasonen
2019–2020 Olli Seuri
2020–2021 Reetta Räty
2021–2022 Ritva Leino


Photo: Antti Yrjönen