Jash Doweyko-Jurkowski från Neutral Media

Neutral Medias initiativtagare Jash Doweyko-Jurkowski blir intervjuad av Ben Firn från USA i projektet och boken ”Passion Over Pay” som Ben gjort tillsammans med sin kollega Mark Bennett. Boken presenterar 13 olika initiativtagare från hela världen, vars projekt har en ideell grund som gemensam nämnare. Intervjun handlar huvudsakligen om varför och hur Neutral Media startades.

Om du liksom Neutral Media tycker att Passion Over Pay är en god idé så kan du köpa och bli inspirerad av ett eget exemplar här. Läs mer om projektet Passion Over Pay på Indiegogo-sidan här. Är du nyfiken på vem Ben Firn är finns mängder av spännande läsning på hans egna hemsida här.

Intervjun kan läsas i sin helhet på engelska längst ner i detta inlägg.

Jash Doweyko-Jurkowski is the creator and purveyor of Neutral Media, a Swedish media initiative that focuses on conducting objective interviews as a means of uncovering information and remediating bi-partisan politics. Neutral Media is unlike others in its field, as it has no political or economic motivations. Jash lives in Malmö, the southern tip of Sweden, and has a background in text-editing.

Tell me about Neutral Media and what you’re trying to accomplish with it.

Neutral Media is an independent media platform that interviews citizens across a wide variety of topics, such as politics, philosophy, psychology, history, health and culture. The aim is to give an honest picture of the people I interview, and to conduct the interview in such a way so that the listener can truly make his or her own opinion about the subject. Hopefully this will encourage healthy and objective conversations.

Tell me more about Swedish media. Is there a big need for Neutral Media and other alternative media sources?

We currently have very polarized media in Sweden. People don’t seem to be interested in talking to their opponents in politics and other cultural topics. Most Swedish newspapers have a political orientation that colors their published material. Often media outlets receive money from both political and private interests that in turn shape their content. Many people feel state media is angled, and that tax-financed public service media should be impartial. But it isn’t impartial, and in most cases ideologies and regulations control what gets published.

As a counter reaction to Swedish state media, we’ve seen a lot of alternative media pop up around the country. These sources often focus on corruption and crimes commited by immigrants, so they have developed a hateful, extreme and right-wing reputation. I’m not saying one or the other is wrong, but it is bothersome that these alternative sources also have an agenda.

Talk to me about your initial video and how it incidentally started your project.

The idea of Neutral Media was born when I shot a video of the 2016 New Year’s celebration at Möllevångstorget in Malmö. I decided to venture outside with my camera and document the firework display that night. I put the video up on YouTube and it went viral and got almost 900.000 views. Both national and international media sources, left and right-wing, used snippets of the video to publish stories in accordance with their political agendas. So there was media in Sweden and in the U.S. that were reporting about this in different ways. Some painted this as how badly men behaved in groups, and there was a big push to ban firefowks in Sweden. Others were blaming the rowdiness of the influx of immigrants and spun the video to make it seem like a war-zone. It was all very ridiculous and was taken completely out of context.

How soon after news outlets picked up the video did you realize you needed to do something to combat the state of media in Sweden?

When the video started to go viral the day after it was published I was not prepared for the amount of attention it received. Several journalists immediately called and wrote to me, and people were leaving opinionated and hateful comments on my YouTube channel. I was shocked and stressed out, and spend the next two days talking to different outlets. Then I started to realize how sources were spinning my video. I felt compelled to write about my intentions with the video (which were none) and how I felt about the partisan and untruthful stories. The event triggered me to start Neutral Media and encourage people to see objectivity.

Did you have a background in journalism and media before the 2016 New Year’s celebration?

No, actually. I studied some journalism in high school and write a few freelance pieces, but I didn’t have formal training. Instead of finishing my University program, I took a job writing product texts for a website. At the moment Neutral Media is just a hobby for me, but even it it only inspires one single person I know my hard work has been worth it.

What is your interview process like? What type of people do you select to interview?

Since the platform is still only a few months old, I have not yet solidified my process. Freedom of expression is a big part of Neutral Media – I do not restrict the topic or type of person I interview, and my personal opinion as a journalist is totally irrelevant.

I am trying to give a voicce to controversial people and organizations that don’t really get exposure in other outlets. I firmly believe that everyone from the street cleaner to the businessman has a passionate story to tell, and they should be allowed to tell it.

Not only am I focusing on controversial subjects, but I’m also giving attention to topics that are missing from Swedish culture and society. I will try to interview politician, police, entrepreneurs and the like.

My latest interview was with a hippie that was promoting the use of psychedelic drugs that are currently illegal in Sweden. My job is not to frame anyone but rather give them the liberty to tell their story. I am more interested in their passion and feelings and how they formulated their beliefs. I’m going to try to talk to spiritual leaders too, like priests, monks and rabbis.

It’s very admirable that you are suppleenting Swedish state media. Have you felt any self-doubt along the way?

Absolutely. Self-doubt has been one of the most challenging things. Aside from investing so much time and energy into a project that doesn’t provide a paycheck, the biggest doubt is the fear of being judged. Mainstream media outlets and journalists don’t believe in what I’m doing, and get provoked when I try to give a voice to everyone.

It’s been isolating at times and has caused me to question whether I should continue. But I’ve realized that all people and organizations thrive on the possibility to think and speak freely, because it helps build tolerance between different perspectives. Defending this movement is more important to me than my image.