Digging out the truth, learning from the best in the lot

The latest addition to my snail-pace growing Swedish vocabulary is “gräv”. Not just the word, but the deeper connotation of its use. In Swedish, Gräv means to dig, and where did I learn this? – At a conference on investigative journalism. Does the connotation in this context already emerge to you? The conference is called Gräv, and is a take on the work investigative journalists do – digging out the truth.

Being a signal processing student, I have to constantly work with data and see if different sets of data have any correlation built between them. With this paradigm, it was all the more easy to grasp the presentation of the conference which was trying to emphasise on the need for “free press and stable states”. Invariably, nation states with the most dynamic and independent media vents – print, TV, radio and now the most important Internet, clearly are more democratic and even though this puts them in trouble, it also places them in position to debate, discuss and solve their problems.

And Sweden tops this positive correlation. One of the most vibrant media landscape in the world thrives in Sweden. The Swedish Institute organizes awesome events such as this as being a Swedish Institute scholarship holder, I have the opportunity to apply to and participate in many of them. It was exhilarating to be at the unofficial capital of Northern Sweden – Umeå for the conference. Umeå happens to be the European culture capital for 2014.

The impeccably scenic Umeå

The impeccably scenic Umeå

A brilliant conference at an impeccable venue, this one was. I interacted with many important investigative journalists from across the globe. Of the more than 600 Swedish journalists at the conference, I got to interact with many important Swedish journalists like Nils Hanson, the editor for SVT’s Uppdrag granskning; Sven Bergman and Joachim Dyfvermark  duo of the Cold Facts fame who revealed to the world many ground-breaking investigative reports like the CIA’s Extraordinary Rendition stint with Sweden and dealings of TeliaSonera in troubled states.

Personally, the most fruitful of discussions I had was with author and Guardian journalist David Leigh, who has closely worked with the likes of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Jacob Appelbaum, bringing out some of the most explosive pieces of journalistic work ever done.

David Leigh talking about the Snowden files

David Leigh talking about the Snowden files

Apart from all the positives, the conference also revealed to me the state in which investigative journalists are working in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebannon, Belarus, Palestine, Ukraine and Russia. Meeting them in person and to hear their anecdotes of covering some of the worst ongoing human crises. To say that I was inspired or moved during my meetings with them and hearing their anecdotes of covering some of the worst ongoing human crises would still not capture the experience. It has left me changed, for the good.


As part of the event, an interaction with the indigenous people of Northern Sweden – Sami people, was organised. I shall focus on that in a subsequent post, but will only commit to the fact that I totally relished on their authentically cooked reindeer meat meal.

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  1. Pingback: Knowing the ‘Sami’ dimension of Sweden | Chalmeristbloggen