Media coverage of the women and children refugees of the al-Hol camp is a low for Finnish journalism

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The Finnish media should stop using a bazooka to kill an ant.

Is the Finnish media fair when it reports about migrants and minorities like Muslims? Is its reporting biased and unbalanced? The Oulu sexual assault cases and the debate surrounding the al-Hol are the latest examples.

Certainly, State Broadcasting Company Yle’s coverage of the Oulu sexual assault cases is a low point and an example of overkill. From November 27 to February 13 is a case in point. Back then, the state-owned broadcaster published a whopping 77 stories on the topic. On January 14, Yle published 13 stories about the issue.

Not only did the media cover the story disproportionately, but politicians and even the police poured fuel on the flames of suspicion and racism. Matters got so bad that Muslims feared to go to the city center and were barred by the city of Oulu from visiting child-care centers and elementary schools.

Even if the media, politicians and the police suggested that the sexual assaults of Oulu pointed to an epidemic, only eight were convicted.

Another example of overkill by the Finnish media is the repatriation of some 30 children, and possibly their mothers to Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat published 36 stories that dealt with the al-Hol camp in Syria. Source: Helsingin Sanomat.

Just like in the stories written about Oulu cases earlier this year, Yle published 71 stories during twenty days (December 2-21), with Helsingin Sanomat publishing 36. The average number of stories that Yle and Helsingin Sanomat published daily was 3.5 and 1.8 stories, respectively.

The most active day for Yle was December 19, when it published 11 stories, and for Helsingin Sanomat it was December 17 and 16, when it published six stories a day apiece.

Considering that Finland does have good journalists like Jessica Aro and the country scores second on the World Press Freedom Index after Norway, I wonder where the Finnish media would stand on its coverage of minorities like Muslims?

The top-six countries on the World Press Freedom Index, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Holland, Denmark, and Switzerland, are inflicted by social ills like Islamophobia. Add to the latter the underwhelming size of minorities working as staffers, and we can decipher why media coverage is biased and unbalanced.

Considering that 16% of Helsinki’s population is not white Finnish, Helsingin Sanomat appears to not have a single journalist who is a minority and a full-time staffer. Source: Helsingin Sanoamt.

How do we get more balanced and less biased reporting of minorities? One important step would be to hire more journalists who don’t have only a white perspective of society.