I have been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg, appointed by the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The complete citation reads as follows:
”Paul Ronge is a recurring teacher at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG). He has worked as a journalist for over 20 years, at Aftonbladet, Rapport, and Expressen, among others. In his current profession as a media consultant, he is active as a media advisor, offering guidance to authorities, businesses, and individuals who are at risk of, or have received, unwanted and negative publicity and media attention. Paul Ronge has written the books ”När Janne Josefsson ringer – så hanterar du pressen” and ”Social Media – en halv sekund från ord till handling”. Paul Ronge provides a unique contribution to one of JMG’s leading profile areas: risk and crisis communication, and his collaboration with JMG is also a shining example of cooperation, interaction, and dialogue between academia and professionals in the industry.”
The appointment was also noted in media such as Resumé and Dagens Opinion.
The appointment is, of course, enormously prestigious, a testament after a career of more than 45 years in which I have lived in, of and for media. I have breathed journalism and constantly strived to become better as a media trainer, advisor, and crisis manager.
It is also proof that my work is increasingly seen as ”acceptable”, that it is legitimate to help individuals, businesses, and organizations manage the risk of ending up in the media spotlight.
We are several who are increasingly explaining and analyzing crises and their processes in the media, not only myself, Jeanette Fors-Andrée, and Hampus Knutsson, but also others.
We have entered a time where journalism is increasingly questioned, and where abuse against people, biased reporting, and sloppiness are debated like never before. Benny Fredriksson and Mats Löfving are tragic examples in Sweden. Social media is boiling over with media criticism, and even internally within the once unified journalist corps, conflicts are brewing.
Some criticism is, of course, unfair or even malicious, such as Donald Trump’s, Vladimir Putin’s, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s. Other criticism must be taken seriously, not least if factual, consequence-neutral news journalism is replaced by activism and opinion. In my crisis management work, I often see how relevant facts are filtered out by journalists who want a straight and clean angle in bringing down my clients, preferably with a CEO resignation that increases the chances of winning the ”Stora Journalistpriset” or a ”Grävpris”.
However, wherever I lay my Doctor’s hat I will always have my love for journalism. It is absolutely necessary for democracy, and it must also be allowed to make mistakes.
The balance is to fight mistakes and exaggerations but realize that all media scrutiny is fundamentally healthy.
The first thing to do when a crisis is looming is to try to define where the critics (often the media) are right and do something about it. Then you can handle inaccuracies and exaggerations. Both right and wrong are present in almost all investigations. That approach has been a recipe for success in my crisis management work.
The University of Gothenburg and JMG stand for a curious, society-oriented, unbiased, and constantly knowledge-seeking application of academic training, which makes me extra proud to have been awarded an honorary doctorate there.
Many thanks to those who nominated me: Marie Grusell, Bengt Johansson, Marina Ghersetti, and Orla Vigsö.
Every time I visit you and conduct a course, I have learned something new when I take the train back!