Tales of a journalist
Columnist Jyrki Lehtola zooms in on the worst factor in the diminishing quality journalism: us. Our voice is now dominant in the media, and it isn’t a particularly pleasant one.
Have you heard the rumours about the crisis in the media yet? Or their search for a new revenue logic that consists of repeating the words ‘Internet’ and ‘money’? I’m sure you have, even though the media itself claims to be getting along fairly well and can always find some perspective on its dropping circulation numbers that tells everyone they’re doing just fine. (For example, their numbers are better than in 1898 when the paper didn’t exist. Yes, we rule!)
But that isn’t the only problem. The other problem exists in us, the readers, listeners and viewers. Social media, discussion boards, and the media itself have given us a voice, and, er, well, it isn’t the kind of voice anyone wants to hear.
It turned out we have an ugly voice, and we want all the wrong things. More…
Celebrating Finnish Independence Day is a serious business involving lots of handshakes and plenty of pitfalls for the unwary, observes columnist Jyrki Lehtola. But luckily there’s plenty of fun to be had for ordinary Finns in complaining about it all
When Finland makes the news, it’s usually because of a national tragedy or something odd we do. The latter ripe fodder for filling the blank pages of the international media on slow news days includes such things as the Finnish penchant for competitions in such sporting events as Wellington boot /mobile phone tossing (saappaan- / kännykänheitto) and wife carrying (akankanto).
We have another odd national tradition, although it has never received as much international recognition as the fact that we carry our wives competitively. This time- honoured custom repeats annually on the sixth of December, when we close our shops and barricade ourselves gloomily within our homes. Its name is Independence Day. More…
Anyone can find the latest news and the vital information he or she requires – latest pictures of some celebrity’s breasts, the reasons why men cheat on their wives – immediately from the Internet. Jyrki Lehtola takes a look at why the printed media are in trouble
We are living in an age of newspaper death. Several publications have already closed up shop in Finland just this autumn. The most notable of these was Finland’s oldest and most influential teen magazine, Suosikki (‘Favourite’), which had been in circulation for some 52 years.
This was where several generations, particularly the boys of several generations, got all of their information about sex, where they learned how to tape posters to their walls without them peeling off, where they got information about rock stars’ drug use and favourite foods and where they learned that even if something can be expressed with a period, expressing it with an exclamation point is still preferable. More…
In the endlessly long days of the brief Nordic summer, what could be better than to go on a bender? Jyrki Lehtola explores a quaint Finnish custom
In Finland it’s cold and dark for nine months of the year. We spend the other three months drunkenly praying that tomorrow it might be warmer and lighter – and sometimes it is.
From the perspective of the national psyche, you’d think we might have learnt to live with the cold and the dark. We might have dealt with it and turned it into something useful to us and to our continued survival. Sadly though, this isn’t quite the case. For nine months we sit indoors staring at the television, complaining that there’s never anything worth watching and waiting for those three months to come so that we can go outside again.
And when we finally get outside, we go mad. No longer are we a silent, anxious people. Well, we are, but we pretend we’re a different kind of people: one that spends its time chattering joyfully on the beach, dancing, enjoying life, discussing, debating, participating, sharing.
The arrival of summer makes us go mad. By the end of June, this silent, anxious, suicidal nation has turned into the number one samba carnival of Northern Europe. More…
Life is hard, and then you grow up. Except that you don’t really, at least if you keep watching television. Jyrki Lehtola takes a look at entertainment for the Peter Pan generation – which, he argues, is pretty much all of us
When did we start making television for children? I mean, in theory for adults (believe me, advertises, believe me: for adults!) but in practice for children?
Theoretically television is a wonderful, flexible medium less dependent on big money than the film business. Why did we let it slip out of our hands as a form of expression?
Why did we start making adult programmes for children and children’s programmes for adults? In other words, why do we make exactly the same TV programmes for everyone? More…
In the new media it’s easy for our pet hatreds to be introduced to anyone who is interested. And of course everyone is interested, how else could it be? Jyrki Lehtola investigates
Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, how can we get the revenue model to work by using our old media, Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Twitter, hey, what about that revenue model of ours, Twitter.
The preceding is a poignant summary of what the Finnish media was like in 2011 when the rules of the game changed like they have changed every year. And we still don’t even fully understand what the game is supposed to be. More…
Are we dumbed down by the Internet? Jyrki Lehtola takes a look at who might be to blame
Because I am not a historian and Googling this topic would take more than two clicks, I do not know whether Gutenberg was accused of ruining the future of young people and making adults even stupider.
There would have been reason to. The invention of the printing press took us away from what is truly important. The world was better before Gutenberg.
People knew themselves and each other; they were connected to nature and what really matters. After Gutenberg invented the printing press, those poor people were forced to read books, creating an ever-worsening state of helplessness. More…
Big electoral turnouts are generally considered a good thing. But, writes columnist Jyrki Lehtola, in Finland the fact that the vote went up in the last Finnish general election caused a revelation. Educated urbanites and the media (perhaps near enough the same thing), are shocked by how 20 per cent of their fellow Finns think – and the ramifications caused tremors all across Europe
Listen up. Diversity is a resource. Except of course if it’s the sort of diversity that is a resource for the wrong people.
That sort of diversity isn’t the least bit nice. In Finland in the spring, we ran into the sort of diversity that even got the rest of Europe to start worrying. Out in the thickets and forests, diverse people had been springing up in secret, people of whose existence we urbanites were entirely unaware.
And they threatened to bring Europe down. Europe. Which was a bit much. More…
Elections are coming: what will the vox populi, the voice of the people, dictate? And which people will be deciding Finland’s political future? As columnist Jyrki Lehtola reports, a political debate has arisen about the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ sort of pollster – and the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of Finn
Finland will be holding parliamentary elections in April. We’ve been organising them every four years, like clockwork, for the past two decades, a rare example of stability in a parliamentary democracy. Finland is the European Union’s model student, and the differences between our main political parties are nearly pro forma (who wouldn’t want to protect nature? who wouldn’t want better health care?), so elections in recent years have been more like an endearing tradition than significant, world-changing events.
However, this year everything is different. The upcoming elections have forced us to look in the mirror – and we aren’t liking what we’re seeing. More…
Should a journalist show his hand? Columnist Jyrki Lehtola ponders the pros and cons of showing one’s true political colours
What’s the best way to present an initiative that would get the cynical, lazy news media to take an interest in the outside world?
The easiest way is to make a proposal in which the outside world is actually defined as the news media itself.
This is exactly what Matti Apunen did early this autumn: Apunen, a long-time journalist and the former editor-in-chief of the Aamulehti newspaper, had just left the paper to lobby for Finnish industry and trade interests as director of the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA.
He presented the Finnish media with a straw poll, following the Swedish model, in which reporters would anonymously answer questions about their political leanings. More…
Much is made of the importance of Facebook and the other social media. But what are they, asks journalist and self-confessed internet cynic Jyrki Lehtola in his regular ‘Journalist’s Tales’ column; and, more important, is there any point to them?
This journal and this text appear only on the internet, and you can comment upon the elegant style of this text, as well as its fascinating content, at the bottom of the piece. If worst comes to worst, the apathy it arouses can even give rise to debate.
Does all that mean that I’m a part of… the social media? And if so, could someone tell me what social media mean and how I can get out of here? More…
How does it sound, the people’s voice? Loud and sometimes clear perhaps, but, as columnist Jyrki Lehtola finds, more often than not shrill and puerile
According to a study carried out by Finland’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, 60 per cent of Finns oppose the idea of allowing more immigrants into Finland.
The chancellor of the University of Helsinki, Ilkka Niiniluoto, is concerned about freedom of speech. Immigration researchers no longer dare participate in public debate, because they find themselves the target of death threats. More…
Is it so bad to criticise a Finn, if you’re a Finn? Columnist Jyrki Lehtola takes another look at what you think about us Finns out there
Recently, the word ’Finland’ has been repeated in Finland, and generalisations made about what we Finns are like.
Last year saw the seventieth anniversary of the Winter War, and we congratulated ourselves on what a fine fighting nation we are.
A government branding work group tells us at regular intervals how creative a nation we are.
From time to time someone remembers to mention the sauna, while someone else is a little more critical and says we are also an envious nation. More…
Truth will not out, and neither will humour, if things cannot be freely discussed in the media without fear of giving offence, argues Jyrki Lehtola
One September weekend I was in the city of Turku watching Finland’s first ‘comedy roast’ being taped before a live audience for a television pilot.
Roast is a tradition originating in the US. At its centre is a celebrity guest of honour, the roastee. One after another, well-known comedians take the stage and for several minutes make fun of the guest of honour, on the premise that no subject is out of bounds and the more sensitive the topic, the more arrogantly it must be raised to the fore.
The task of the guest of honour is to be able to laugh at him- or herself as well as at the comedians, and at the end to propose a counter-roast, i.e. insult the insulters. Easy targets like reality TV stars are not chosen but rather prominent figures with extensive careers to their name, people for whom the mockery contains the same mix of respect and warmth as a stag night roast. A roast is a language game in which the most important thing is that everyone, including the audience, understands and accepts the rules. More…
When the Finnish media developed a crush on the country’s foreign minister, writes Jyrki Lehtola, no one could foresee the consequences. Especially if the object of their affections might begin to believe what they say about him…
It is a generally accepted truth that the spiteful media only raise people up in order to cast them down again a moment later.
Generally accepted truths are often not the case, although the media’s amorous relationships are, as a general rule, of short duration. More…