IT expert with humanities background elected to Jyllands-Posten Foundation board

Anja Bechmann, associate professor in media studies, has been elected to the Jyllands-Posten Foundation board. She presents her view on why Denmark’s largest media company needs her profile, and why board work is important.

2018.05.28 | Marianne Ester Back

In addition to her new seat on the Jyllands-Posten Foundation board, Anja Bechmann is research director of DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research, associate professor in media studies and a Jens Christian Skou Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies at Aarhus University.

You are replacing Uffe Riis Sørensen, previous CEO and editor-in-chief of Ritzaus Bureau. Why do you think they have chosen to replace his seat on the board with an IT profile?

There have been a number of structural changes in the media industry, resulting in the digitalisation of many paper products. This puts them in a different competitive situation with digital media and technologies, such as social media and search engines. The increased competition limits the national advertising market, while potentially expanding it internationally in the global media picture. Therefore, there is a need for a different set of competences on the board. I have an IT background and may be able to contribute knowledge which the industry needs in order to optimise their future business.

What can you especially contribute considering your IT profile and your background in the humanities?

My profile is interdisciplinary. I have a background in the humanities, where my primary focus has been the understanding of user behaviour in society, which I have linked to subjects within computer science and information studies. This gives me the opportunity to understand technology in a more holistic social framework, but also in a user perspective. When I see technology, I see technology developed by humans. Many of the challenges we face are not necessarily technologically regarded as a matter of coding, but rather as a matter of incorporating mindsets and values into the code. This way, I am a classical humanist and can see that there are some cultural, political, social and human relations which are important to take into account to optimise a technological business model.

Why have you decided to engage in board work?

What I find interesting about being involved in board work in my spare time is that I establish a network which may also benefit Aarhus University. It is important for Aarhus University to keep up with developments in Danish companies, and JP/Politikens Hus is one of Denmark’s largest media companies. Being a board member is also an important way of linking business and industry with students, for example, and ensuring that our degree programmes are as up to date as possible.

Arts, Medievidenskab og Journalistik