114th Operating Year of News Media Finland
Reliable information for Finns
The 114th operating year of News Media Finland and its predecessors was characterised by the transition from one crisis to another. Before the COVID-19 pandemic finally eased in the summer, our operations had still been restricted by assembly restrictions in the spring.
The new exceptional period started with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. The importance of free media and independent journalism became clearer both around the world and in Finland. The reliability of information needed to be evaluated more critically. We quickly started providing support to the independent regional news media in Ukraine together with the other Nordic media federations.
The digitalisation of news media progressed. This was accelerated by the increases in paper and delivery prices.
Safeguarding of interests
Starting from the spring, we influenced the upcoming Government Programme with the theme Luotettavaa tietoa suomalaisille (“Reliable information for Finns”). The accurate information produced by the news media is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy and the “mental security of supply” of the nation. On this basis, we promoted a comprehensive media policy, decreasing the value-added tax for newspapers and a fairer competitive position for news media.
Parliament discussed the Government’s proposal to reform the Postal Act and to support the delivery of newspapers. At the same time, Posti was planning to switch to area pricing, along with several changes that would negatively affect the delivery of newspapers. Local newspapers were faced with the threat of being left outside delivery support.
The amended Act on the Finnish Broadcast Company entered into force in August, and a proposal to bring the EU Copyright Directive into force was discussed in the Parliament committees. The European Commission published a proposal for a European Media Freedom Act.
We were actively involved in the international representation of the interests of news media publishers at the European level and through strong Nordic cooperation.
Marketing and surveys
The surveys conducted during the year revealed that Finns consider newspapers to be the most reliable media outlet by far and that nearly all Finns read either printed or digital newspapers. We offered our members support to increase their digital subscriptions when we investigated the obstacles to and incentives for subscribing to digital newspapers.
We produced a number of marketing materials for the use of member media on the advantages and importance of news media. In the spring, all our member newspapers signed a Ukraine-themed declaration on the protection of freedom of expression.
We also highlighted environmental responsibility by including World Environment Day and Finnish Nature Day in our marketing materials for the first time.
In the news week, we focused on local journalism. With the Perehdy paikalliseen (“Get to know the local”) theme, we encouraged children, young people and adults to get acquainted with the news media offerings of their home municipality. In addition, we investigated teachers’ media attitudes and wishes and development proposals regarding media education.
To support media education, we produced new education materials for schools and educational institutions. We published the Tekoäly toimittajan työkaluna (“AI as a tool for journalism”) podcast series, which delves into the relationship between technology and journalism.
The need for information literacy increased as foreign nations sought to feed their own propaganda into the minds of Finns. We launched a project aimed at improving the knowledge of the principles of journalism and the ability of Finns to distinguish between journalism and other online and social media communications.
Free newspapers and local newspapers
Responsible local journalism and presence were at the heart of our activities aimed at city and local newspapers. In the spring, the city newspaper campaign Ikkunasi arkeen (“Your window to daily life”) and the local newspaper campaign Pureudu paikalliseen (“Focus on the local”) reminded us of the diversity of the news media field in our country.
The planned changes to delivery services raised concerns about the future of local newspapers. In addition, the increased prices of paper and energy forced many city and local newspapers to cut back on the number of delivery zones and publication days.
The prizes for the best city and local newspapers were awarded at the Vuoden parhaat (“Best of the Year”) gala at the Suuret Lehtipäivät event in Joensuu.
Suomen Lehdistö developed its digital presence. In the spring, we launched our renewed website with a better hierarchy of articles and a layout that is also suitable for in-depth content. The site now also highlights more content for the visitor to read.
We launched the webinar series Tekijä, which was made with a journalistic approach and has turned out to be surprisingly popular. In the webinars, the best news media experts were interviewed on current hot topics, such as how to create a feature story or news analysis that makes people willing to pay in order to read it.
Events and training
The association’s variety training courses and events were continued in a diverse manner: either fully online or in a hybrid format. In November, the Suuret Lehtipäivät event in Joensuu saw the members come together for a joyous meeting.
The events that we organised reached more than 1,700 people during the year.
Services for members
The years of the pandemic strengthened the association’s relationship with its members. 55 per cent of the respondents to the spring member survey felt that the association’s operations had improved in the past year. The association was considered more reliable than before and easily approachable and was seen as serving the interests of its members.