25 years in business – Insider, a student magazine in English, in Finland

Cover Story, Editorial, Features

Vol 26, Issue 16, 09 February 2024

It’s hard to believe that just over 25 years ago, as a BBA student in Kymenlaakso Polytechnic (now South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences), I took an idea to our then Business Department Head, Markku Puustelli, for publishing a newsletter in English. He welcomed the idea and advised me to discuss it with our International Business Programme Head and marketing lecturer, Ulla Puustelli, who also embraced the idea, and we set to working out what form this would take. After gathering a few student colleagues together, (Heikki, Heidi, Joonas, Katja, Piritta, and Sanna), we formed an editorial team with myself as Editor in Chief, came up with some articles that we though would be of interest to other students, and on the 9th February, 1999, the first issue of what we now know as Insider, rolled off the department photocopier. As it stands today, that is more than 5,000 articles that have been published in the pages of Insider – and that is a very conservative estimate.

That very first black and white issue all those years ago was given the name “Business Department News” – not very imaginative I know. However, we immediately asked readers to vote for a name and the very next issue was called “Insider”, and the student magazine we know today was officially founded.

The look of the very first “Insider”

The journey from then has seen many milestones in the life of insider. We first started out with printed editions in black and white, but after a few years, the addition of affordable colour printing allowed us to make the break into coloured issues. Also, at that time, all copies of Insider had to be hand copied, that meant feeding in A4 prints to the photocopier, creating A3 sheets, and then feeding those back in to print the reverse pages, all while maintaining focus to ensure that copies were in the right order and not back to front or upside down. Also, each issue had to be hand-stapled using a special long stapler and then each copy hand folder into a magazine – there were a few finger blisters in those days. Needless to say, there were a few mistakes – I don’t want to remember how many, but let’s just say it’s lucky Finland is the land of paper-mills. Those first years meant that the editorial team spent many long hours each week in the photocopy room, and I remember a lot of cursing and frustration on some occasions, but thankfully, advances in photocopier technology slowly changed the process from fully manual to semi-automatic to fully automatic. Our last printed editions of Insider could be sent to the photocopier directly from the desktop and after about 30 minutes, 200 fresh copies of Insider would have been deposited automatically into a box at the end of the machine, nicely stapled, folded, and in with images in glorious high resolution. As it stands today, with 26 volumes, and more than 600 issues published, that is well over 1,000,000 sheets of A4 paper printed – and that’s without the many mistakes made – but nobody’s counting!

The first Editorial Team, how young they look!

Also, in the early days, the commercialisation of the Internet available to the public, allowed us to create our website which enabled us to add some colour to our articles through images, although at that time our photography was still analogue, having to develop films and scanning prints to add to articles. It wasn’t too many years before we managed to get hold of a digital camera with a whopping 2.1 megapixels – that really was the change that smoothed the way for including more photographs in insider, and led to the need to teach students how to handle a camera and take newsworthy photographs. By my, probably low estimate, we have published more than 25,000 photographs, but I’m sure it is a lot more!

In 1999 and 2000, we have received two different ISSN numbers for our printed and electronic versions respectively. These were issued by the University of Helsinki Library, where copies of Insider are still archived today. With the introduction of ISSNs, Insider became and officially recognised publication, and this opened many doors to editorial staff members through press invitations and promoting personal networks.

As for the location of Insider, in the early days we simply made use of the computer classrooms and a simple desktop publishing programme. Soon it was realised that Insider was an established entity and needed a place to work. We took over an old storeroom and were happy there for a few years. Unfortunately, space was a premium for lecturers and office space, and we were soon forced to look for other locations. Over the years, Insider has had seven different offices in three different buildings, so we can say we have at least travelled!

The editorial staff of Insider have come and gone over the years, with more than 250 individual students having earned the Insider Editorial Staff title and their very own press-card. They have come from all corners of the world, from each of the seven continents, from more than 45 different countries. Some have stayed just one semester such as exchange students, and some have stayed all through their study time only leaving when they graduated. However, some have even come back to write for Insider as Master students at Xamk, and several even going on to becoming employees of the university today, Jagat, Ulf, and Daria, to name just a few. The amount of credits earned in that time have been in excess of 2,000 – but for some it is the belonging to Insider that is important, not the credits.

As for myself, that humble student of more than 25 years ago, is still overseeing the creation that is Insider and continuing to serve as it’s Editor in Chief – I feel proud of what it has become. I could say that it is my accomplishment that we still publish Insider today, but it absolutely isn’t, it is the more than 250 students that have acted as editorial staff over the last 25 years – the praise goes to them, as without it’s editorial staff, Insider would not exist.

As for actors outside of the editorial team, thanks go the university of then and of now, for allowing such a publication, and for all of the support we have received from the various staff members, management, and support staff – you know who you are and are too numerous to be named individually.

However, special thanks go to the two people mentioned at the beginning of this article, Markku and Ulla Puustelli, without their initial enthusiasm and support Insider might never have got started.

Oh, and if anyone would like to volunteer to check all of the figures I have mentioned above, I would welcome them to trawl through every copy of insider ever published (I have my own archive), including our website, to count each and every printed page, each and every article written, and each and every photograph published! Maybe it could be a practical training position or a thesis topic…