Polar regions have always been fascinating and exciting, but also far away and difficult to reach. Today, the Arctic and Antarctic seem closer thanks to modern means of transportation and communication, but for many they are still a rather abstract terrain. Untamed nature, wild animals and ice characterize the image that many people still carry in their heads today. That’s why PolarJournal was officially founded one year ago: to show that much more happens in the polar regions than just icebergs that break off or penguins that breed.
True, the idea of sharing news from the cold zones of the earth with an interested audience is nothing new. Heiner and Rosamaria Kubny, Michael Wenger and Christian Hug were well aware of this at the beginning of July 2019. After all, together, they had been running a travel platform for years, which also had spread news at times.
“I see PolarJournal as a very lively platform”Julia Hager, PolarJournal
But PolarJournal should be different: publish daily news from all areas of life from the Arctic and Antarctic; Background information illuminate headlines that also appear in other media; Create a medium that does not come gonzo, but provides information in an interesting ans exciting way to people who are interested. The newest member of PolarJournal, Julia Hager, says: “I see PolarJournal as a very lively platform that brings the Arctic and Antarctic close to us with its knowledge and experience, making it virtually tangible for all age groups – whether the interest, the enthusiasm may lead to a journey or awaken memories or is perceived as a personal enrichment even without one’s own view.” For this reason, PolarJournal was officially launched on July 11, 2019.
As with all projects, to have an idea was of course not only sufficient, but also the necessary resources were needed. Fortunately, an investor offered to ensure the initial ignition and thus enable the start. “We are very pleased that our idea has also been considered worthy of support by an investor,” says Heiner Kubny. “Without this investment, PolarJournal probably wouldn’t have become what we had imagined.” Soon the website and posts were online and the social media channels were open. “We spend most of our time scouring various channels for news and information, looking for additional material and also checking whether these news actually correspond to the facts,” explains Michael Wenger. “We also spend a lot of time talking to a wide variety of people on social media channels. Not only with interested readers, but also with colleagues, guides, stakeholders and people who live directly in the regions.”
“We believe that our site is an important and interested portal for polar-savvy readers.”Heiner and Rosmaria Kubny, PolarJournal
Interaction with people is also important, because it is always apparent that explanations or discussions are required on individual topics. In some cases controversial, however, they are an important part of PolarJournal’s information culture. “For me, this is one of the most important aspects of PolarJournal: to see how people use our information to form opinions,” says Michael Wenger. Heiner and Rosamaria also find that PolarJournal has aroused a great deal of interest and appeals to people: “We believe that our site is an important and interesting portal for polar-savvy readers. In fact, the ever-increasing readership of our website confirms this,” say both.
The first year was also very exciting and peppered with some highlights. On the one hand, there was the participation at the Arctic Circle Meeting 2019 in Reykjavik, where the most important stakeholders for Arctic affairs met and provided an insight into the important topics. The invitation to the annual general meeting of the Austrian Polar Research Institute was also one of the highlights, where Michael Wenger was able to present PolarJournal as a communication platform. The journey to East Antarctica in the footsteps of the first Swiss, Xavier Mertz, and the opportunity to report directly from down there will also remain unforgotten.
“We were quite surprised at how quickly some companies had contacted us”Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal
But the platform also developed structurally quite rapidly, not least thanks to the fact that some companies also recognized the potential of PolarJournal and entered into partnerships. “We were quite surprised at how quickly some companies contacted us,” says Heiner Kubny. The platform was quickly noticed abroad, too. It was therefore decided to publish the articles in English. “It’s a bit ironic, but thanks to COVID-19 measures, we had the time to implement this step,” explains Michael Wenger. Since mid-May, the articles are also available in English. “Of course, we want to increase the readership and present the website in French in addition to German and English,” says Heiner Kubny. This is one of the goals we are aiming for for our young platform in the coming year.”
“I would like PolarJournal to encourage people even more to see the polar regions for what they really are: a diverse, exciting and fragile habitat that offers more than ice, snow and animals.”Michael Wenger, PolarJournal
Not everything was just a walk in the park along the way so far. In particular, the current COVID-19 crisis has also hit the platform. Some of the plans that were still pending had to be withdrawn or discontinued for economic reasons. This included the magazine. “We were deeply saddened when we had to decide to put the magazine on hold,” says Rosamaria Kubny. “But on the other hand, ideas for alternatives emerged, which we are now developing,” adds Michael Wenger. When asked what the team wants for PolarJournal next year, Heiner and Rosamaria say with a wink: “That we will be number one. And if the situation allows us to go on a trip to the Arctic or Antarctic again.” Julia also has clear ideas for the coming year: “First of all, of course, I would like PolarJournal to reach more and more interested readers with our articles in the coming year, who pass on their enthusiasm. I see PolarJournal as a possibility to be able to make a difference with dedicated articles on a wide range of topics.” And Michael Wenger on the same question: “I would like PolarJournal to encourage people even more to see the polar regions for what they really are: a diverse, exciting and fragile habitat that offers more than ice, snow and animals.”