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Honorary Alumni of the Year: "Education is the cure for most things"

Education is enormously important and we should never take that privilege for granted, says Erkan Özden, who is receiving Roskilde University's newly established Honorary Alumni Award.

Erkan Özden
"I learned to appreciate the culture I didn't necessarily bring with me myself. It's not just about becoming a doctor, a lawyer or dentist," says Erkan Özden. Photo: Agnete Schlichtkrull.

Journalist and news anchor Erkan Özden is receiving this year's honorary alumni award. He talks here about his work as a journalist and his views on education. 

What are the most important values in your work?

"It's knowledge. Formulating something broadly, so that everyone can understand it. I find that really fascinating. Others have dreamed of toppling governments, but for me it's the communication part that's exciting. To be able to take a really difficult subject and make it easy and understandable. Personally, I think international relations and everything about technology, such as space technology, are really interesting. But everything can be exciting if it is told well. I have remained a generalist, and I’m curious about many things."

"And I also really believe that we need unifying media. It was interesting to see how well TV Avisen (Danish Broadcasting Corporation main news programme) was received during the Corona crisis. Not all that untrustworthy stuff. Not to glorify traditional media, but it's one of the least bad things we have."

How do you use your education?

"The whole idea of being grounded, learning the craft of journalism, but being an academic at the same time – it's provided an academic ballast."

"In Journalism we had to learn to angle a topic, we had to cut to the bone and call a spade a spade. Over time, some of the academic interest has crept back into my life. As a journalist, you have to be able to angle a topic, but it's also good to have a bit of judgement. Especially in this day and age, it's not always about cutting to the chase."

"In recent years, I have asked several critical questions. ‘Why are we covering this story in this way?', 'What is the context of this figure? It is like a kind of compass that I have taken with me from RUC. It may be a bit long in the tooth, although the nuances of news journalism are difficult. This could for example be: Why is the cover image of an immigrant in news broadcasts always a lady in a scarf seen from behind with a discount supermarket bag? I am also critical of the use of terms. There is a difference between immigrants, refugees and descendants. It's about accuracy, not political correctness."

"A bit like the women's struggle for equality. It has also been dismissed with 'oh, aren’t we allowed to say anything any more?' But it really does matter what words we use. Back to the problem formulation approach: You have to know what problem you want to clarify before you can clarify it." 

Erkan Özden

Erkan Özden

Erkan Özden

Facts about Erkan Özden

  • Graduated journalist, MA (Communication Studies) from Roskilde University 2005.
  • Has studied Danish and journalism.
  • Journalist and host on TV Avisen on Danmarks Radio [the Danish Broadcasting Corporation].
  • Author of two books on fake news: “En pandemi af fake news” [A pandemic of fake news] and “Falske nyheder” [Fake news], which are free and open access and targeted at young people.
  • He also hosts “Sandhedens Tjeneste” [The Truth Service], a workshop for schools and colleges that confronts students with journalistic issues – a major nationwide project to make young people more critical online. 

About the Honorary Alumni Award:
The award is given to an alumna who has created a career worthy of recognition and who builds on RUC's values and gives something back to society. The prize comes with DKK 10.000, which is donated to charity.