The cheap journalism of Helsingin Uutiset and its editor’s long roots in the anti-immigration movement of Finland

by , under All categories, Enrique Tessieri

Two of the worst complimentary publications in the Helsinki and Greater Helsinki area Helsingin Uutiset and Vantaan Sanomat. Since they don’t charge people to read their publications they depend heavily on advertising revenues. The way that they get such revenues and readers is by spreading xenophobia and suspicion of migrants and minorities. 

The latest example is of a story by Helsingin Uutuset that claims that sexual crimes have soared to dizzying heights.

Read the full story here.

The story has a lot of holes. For one, it takes a jab below the belt and claims that somehow the large number of asylum seekers have something to do with this issue. For example, the story doesn’t clarify – but suggests instead – that it’s the fault of asylum seekers without mentioning how many tourists and non-asylum seekers it’s talking about.

It doesn’t even tell us if the cases that it cites are suspected and convicted rape cases.

We don’t know and we’re not supposed to know. Even so, Helsingin Uutiset’s shoddy reporting is no surprise since this is the way the publication spreads falsehoods and racism about migrants while attracting advertisers.

But let’s look at the volumes, not the percentages that the story cites.

According to the newspaper, there were 268 suspected cases in 2016, which is 133% rise from 115 cases in the previous year.

The publication sensationally claims that rapes had soared but we disagree. Let’s calculate how much is 268 cases from the amount of asylum seekers that came to Finland in 2015 and 2016 and the total number of 229,765 migrant residents living in the country in 2015. [1]

Ready? If we compare the rape cases with the number of asylum seekers and total foreign residents to the percentage we arrive at a “dizzying” 0.70% and 0.117%, respectively. Remember the headline that sexual crimes had soared?

This type of journalism by Helsingin Uutiset is cheap opinionated reporting.

Should we be surprised by this lowly type of journalism considering that the editor of Helsingin Uutiset’s as well as Vantaan Sanomat and Länsiväylä is A-P. Pietilä?

Pietilä’s views of migration, migrants and minorities are well-known and documented. He is mentioned in Milla Hannula’s Maassa maan tavalla book, which was published in 2011, as one of “the pioneer” anti-immigration voices to emerge from the 1990s. The book attempted to give a history of the anti-immigration movement from an anti-immigration and extremist perspective.

Pietilä has also been criticized for his homophobic views.

By anti-immigration voices we mean far-right extremist groups like Suomen Sisu, Hommaforum, neo-fascists like Teemu Lahtinen and some politicians of the Perussuomalaiset* party that were sentenced for ethnic agitation like MEP Jussi Halla-aho.

As an academic experiment, Hannula’s book was a flop.

[1] We reported incorrectly the suspected rape cases as 340 in 2015 and 150 in the previous year. Even if the figure is 268 and 115, respectively, it doesn’t escape from the fact that the amount is very small, or less than a percentage. 

The official translation to Finnish of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is the Finns Party. In our opinion, it is not only a horrible translation, but one that is misguided. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Such terms like the Finns Party of True Finns promote as well in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and thereafter the acronym PS.