Tales of a journalist

What grade is your kid in?

29 October 2010 | Non-fiction, Tales of a journalist

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

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…

Get out of my Face(book)!

23 June 2010 | Columns, Non-fiction, Tales of a journalist

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…

Vox bloody populi

25 March 2010 | Columns, Tales of a journalist

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

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…

We Finns

15 January 2010 | Columns, Tales of a journalist

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

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…

The next generation

23 October 2009 | Columns, Tales of a journalist

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

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…

Pleased to see me?

16 July 2009 | Columns, Tales of a journalist

Love story

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

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…

I hate your Face(book)

5 May 2009 | Columns, Tales of a journalist

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Just how ‘free’ is free speech? Pay a visit to any internet chatroom, and you’ll see. In the first column of a new series called ‘Journalist’s tales’, the media critic Jyrki Lehtola investigates intolerance on the internet

First there was utopia. Then came people, and utopia suffered.

As with all new inventions, from electricity to the atom bomb, internet social networks were supposed to make our lives better. They were supposed to give us license to network, to participate, to get to know each other, to get reacquainted, to flirt, to find an extramarital lover and to be connected to as many people as possible in as many inconsequential ways as possible. More…