How fair is the Finnish media when it reports about racism and bigotry?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

What role has the media played in spreading racism and bigotry in Finland since the 1990s? If it has played a big role, has its reporting improved or got worse? 

The narrative of the media, and that of politicians concerning our ever-growing culturally diverse society, has changed but it still has a lot of room for self-criticism and improvement.

When the media serves politicians and other voices that single out certain groups, victimizing them because they are of a different religious or cultural background, it’s clear that this exercise is costly to taxpayers.

It is ironic that politicians of anti-immigration parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, and the tacit support they receive from other politicians from other parties, want Finland to fail in becoming a successful culturally diverse society.

Why would politicians like MEP Jussi Halla-Aho, MP Olli Immonen and many other in this country would not want to see us succeed in building a successful culturally diverse society?

The answer is simple: They would be out of a political job and career.

Let’s go back to the original question: Is Finland’s media racist and bigoted?

While we can’t claim that Finland’s media is racist they do publish a lot of racist and bigoted things. Many of these stories are in code and serve the anti-immigration narrative. One recent example is of a story by YLE on crime rates committed by foreigners in Eastern Finland.

The YLE story’s headline stated that crime committed by foreigners rose by 179% in the beginning of the year. We find out later in the story that we’re speaking of only 206 suspected crimes, which is only about 1.5% of all 14,923 crimes reported during that period.

A story doesn’t have to be “racist” to be inappropriate. Unfair journalism that is slanted is just sloppy and unprofessional journalism.

While not all police ethnically profile people and while not all journalists are multiculturally challenged, it’s those that have these issues that give these professions a bad name.

Take a look below at some of the ads from the 1990s published by Ilta-Sanomat, a tabloid that continues to publish racist stories about migrants, asylum seekers and minorities. Certainly the stories that Ilta-Sanomat writes today have changed from about 25 years ago. Even so, it’s still the same narrative but in a different context.

Some of these diehard narratives are that migrants are rapists, criminals, social welfare bums and just plain bad people that shouldn’t be trusted.

Check out these Ilta-Sanomat ads below for yourselves.

Näyttökuva 2016-4-24 kello 15.24.10

Näyttökuva 2016-4-24 kello 15.26.20 Näyttökuva 2016-4-24 kello 15.32.56 Näyttökuva 2016-4-24 kello 15.34.19


Näyttökuva 2016-4-24 kello 15.37.09

The question that we should ask and hope to address is how reporting in Finland can be fairer and report fairly about people who are migrants and minorities.

Last year, Migrant Tales documented 48 cases of suspect and sloppy reporting about migrants and our culturally diverse society.

If I worked only for Migrant Tales full time and got paid for my workI’m certain I could have documented hundreds of cases of sloppy reporting during 2015 when it comes to cultural diversity.

The media plays an important role in defending our values. One of those values that it should maintain is fair reporting of migrants and minorities.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”