Nominee Threshold Award Commercial Practices
Meet Joppe Soons! Joppe was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Commercial Practices with his graduation project ‘De Nieuwste Amsterdammer’. In this interview, Joppe tells us about his work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
People requesting asylum in The Netherlands, 'asylum seekers' or 'refugees' are constantly talked about and scrutinized in our society. Political parties release statements blaming them for being the cause of numerous problems, newspapers write about every aspect of their lives and tv shows question their intentions. My conclusion is that everyone has an opinion about asylum seekers. I started to wonder why everyone is talking about refugees, instead of listening to what they have to say?
So I researched the influence asylum seekers have on the societal discussion about the refugee crisis. The conclusion was threefold: there is a lack of a podium or platform for asylum seekers to voice their opinion, there is lack of journalistic skills, and they are dealing with a language barrier. In collaboration with the newspaper De Nieuwste Amsterdammer I looked for a way to address these issues. I put together a team of twenty three people who, at the time, lived at a refugee center in Amsterdam Nieuw-West, or who had very recently been granted asylum. Then I composed a team of editors, photographers (o.a. Robin de Puy and Jan Dirk van der Burg), journalists (from De Volkskrant, Parool, Trouw, NRC) to support the team of (ex) asylum seekers in creating high quality journalistic content. This became a two-month course in which each person was individually guided.
Finally, I created a digital platform on which these stories were published. Some were read over 3000 times! I raised 10.000 euro to print a physical newspaper and have it distributed to 50.000 homes in Amsterdam for free. For one day we were the biggest newspaper in Amsterdam. We were also invited to De Tweede Kamer (the second chamber) to present the project, where one of the participants (a person from Libya) sat down with Rob Jetten to discuss asylum seeker policy.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
With my project I aim to address the way in which the media represent asylum seekers. Everyone has an opinion about refugees—whether they are positive or negative—but what are these opinions really based on? Most often these opinions are based on assumptions or interpretations, rather than on conversations with, or information coming directly from asylum seekers themselves. I hope to close this information gap and give a voice to people that have important things to say.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
I am currently working at Media.Monks as an advertising creative. I hope to use the experience I am gaining here by running large international projects to create larger and more impactful projects in the future, either in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the world.
To read more about Joppe’s work, pay a visit to his Graduation Catalogue Page or read this article by Het Parool. Furthermore, his journey can be followed on Instagram and his Website. The winner of the Threshold Award Commercial Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.