Media Monitoring Group of Finland [1]: Viimeinen sana program left out some important questions unanswered

by , under Enrique Tessieri

THE STORY WAS UPDATED

Yle’s Viimienen sana invited three guests to talk about Finland’s alleged youth gang problem and how the media treats the topic. The three guests clearly indicated how the talk show would frame the topic.

In the first place, there were no minorities taking part in the debate. All of the guests were white Finns.

Viimeinen sana did not a word about Marko Forss’ past, the policeman invited to the program and from questionable backgrounds.

Forss has a shady history when it comes to minorities and migrants. Even if a racist joke about the Romany minority is a minor matter for him, he was an admin of a racist and secret Facebook page that Long Play uncovered.

Here is the updated Long Play link to the scoop.

The Facebook group where Forss was the admin consisted of over 2,800 members, or about one-third of Finland’s police force of 7,000, according to Long Play

Did any of the police officers in the group get reprimanded? What about Forss?

Nothing happened.



The other two guests were Tiia Palmén from MTV, which writes pretty biased stories about migrant youths (see above), and Matti Näsi of Helsinki University.

While Näsi pointed out that the gang problem in Sweden is light years from Finland, a minority youth worker and even I would have given a different view of things.

Two important questions weren’t answered on the program:

  • Why are we reporting youth crime in Finland in such a sensationalist and even racist manner?
  • Why has interest in the topic risen in the fall?

We have a lot of unfortunate examples of how the Finnish media victimizes migrants and minorities. One of the most shameful ones was in 2019-2019 with the sexual assault cases in Oulu. Yle alone published 77 stories on the topic, 13 in one day, about the sexual assault cases from November 27, 2018 to February 13, 2019. During that period under review, the Oulu police published 13 statements.

The police even went as far as to warn young girls not so talk to foreigners.

Together with the politicians, and taking into account that there were elections in April 2019 like there are now in the same month, the police played a role in feeding the hysteria.

The reason why the media went out of control concerning the sexual assault cases in Oulu is because Finland, like the media, see migrants and minorities as a threat. It is called xenophobia in plain English.

Am I exaggerating?

A news story below published by MTV, which Palmén must have seen before it was put on air, follows the Oulu 2018-2019 scheme: add drama and exaggerate the problem by forgetting that the media is a powerful weapon and you don’t need a bazooka to kill an ant.


Markku Heinikari, head of the police criminal unit, has appeared on some talk shows about youth crime. MTV used him as a source with the following headline: “Underaged youth robbery cases soar in Helsinki – the police are worried about the trend: “Idealizing gang life and criminal lifestyle.” Source: MTV

While Heinikari’s is concerned about youths idolizing gang life, he’s not worried about the causes and roots of the problem. He has no qualms, like what happened in Oulu, to label and victimizing whole groups.

If I asked Heinikari if we should label all security guard scandal as bad because a few use excessive force, the answer would be clear: we shouldn’t.

Why does he then label all minority youths? Shouldn’t he state that even if there are many so-called “youths of migrant backgrounds” in these gangs that the majority of them are not in such gangs?

Is it because they are minorities?

Treatment of the youth gang topic by the police should have been under scrutiny by Viimeinen sana. What role does police prejudice have in their assessment of the issue?

I was disappointed by the guests’ answer or non-answer.

The answer to that question begins with the results of the Swedish election in September and how the radical-right Perussuomalaiset (PS)** wants to capitalize on youth gangs with our elections only a few months away.

The topic of gang violence has paid off handsomely for the PS: they have risen in the latest opinion polls to second place after the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus). Like in Oulu, the police and media have helped the Islamophobic party in hammering across their message of fear and how dangerous migrants and minorities are.

The PS used the same narrative (those ghastly foreigners!) in the 20112015 and 2019 parliamentary elections.

Contrary to the last three elections, Prime Minister Sanna Marin has openly criticized the racist views of the PS and said it does not want to form part of a government with such a party. The Greens, Left Alliance, and Swedish People’s Party have made similar pledges.

Will this impact the parliamentary election of April?

Time will tell.

We should be asking now not how the media writes about minority youths but why they frame such minorities in such a negative light.

The answer is pretty obvious: like media, like society.

[1] Media Monitoring Group of Finland aims to promote fair and accurate reporting by the Finnish media of underrepresented cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious groups. As Finland’s cultural diversity continues to grow, the role of the media in forming public opinion and attitudes about minorities becomes even more relevant.

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