How Finland’s media writes about migrants and minorities: Helsingin Sanomat does it again

by , under Enrique Tessieri

This story below by Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, is a typical example of how the media portray migrants and minorities in this country: There must be a picture of a Somali woman because it is about migrants, and not one member of the non-white Finnish community is interviewed. 

While the story gives superficial reasons why white Finns are so strict about whom they accept as Finns, the reporter should have dug deeper and ask how we ended up becoming a racialized society.

You will not have to search far because the answer is in our recent history. Even at elementary schools in the 1970s, children were taught that n stood for the n-word. While eugenics was relegated into the dustbin of history after World War 2, history books in Finland fifty years ago claimed that we were made up of two races: the Nordic and Eastern Baltic.

Learn your ABCs at elementary school in the 1970s. N-word washes her face, but it doesn’t whiten. Why do Finns have difficulty in seeing non-whites as Finns? Part of the answer is in the racist upbringing that we had at school.

In 2015, Migrant Tales published a series of stories highlighting the Finnish media’s deficient and opinionated reporting about migrants and minorities.

We will begin to publish more of these types of stories from June.

Read the full story here.

Below are some of the things to watch for when looking at the Finnish media’s bias when reporting on migration and minorities:

  • White sources are almost always used as authorities when immigrants and minorities are the topic;
  • Editors too often ask white experts – rarely if ever migrant or minority experts –  their view of the “immigrant problem;”
  • Editors of Finland’s main dailies are white Finns;
  • We give inflated respectability and importance to racists because they mirror our attitudes;
  • In Finland, the stronger racism became, the more airtime it gets;
  • The rise of racism in our society and our coverage of it reveals how unbalanced and uncritical our media is;
  • When it comes to fighting racism, the media are part of the problem.