Education, Research

Ideals, working conditions and the future for Swedish-speaking journalists in Finland

June 19, 2019

Ann-Sofi Berger, Media Management MA student, Department of Culture and Media, Arcada UAS

Supervisor: Dr. Tiina Räisä     Examiner: Dr. Mats Nylund

 

My MA Thesis investigated the prevalent ideals among journalists within the Swedish-language media in Finland. It also inquired about their working conditions and expectations for the future. I personally find this topic very interesting since I work as a journalist myself, and there is very little discussion around professional ideals and ethics in many editorial offices. Instead, the journalists working for commercial media get more and more involved in the media companies’ efforts to improve their economic situation. This is a consequence of a marketization process in the media business as well as the technological development and financial crisis during the last 10–15 years.

For these purposes, I constructed three research questions: “What ideals do Swedish-speaking journalists in Finland consider in their work routines?”, “How do Swedish-speaking journalists in Finland experience job satisfaction and job performance?” and “What do Swedish-speaking journalists in Finland want for the future of journalism?”

Using an online survey with 17 compulsory multiple-choice questions and two voluntary open-ended questions, a majority of journalists belonging to the sample group were invited to participate. The survey received 211 answers, which gave a response rate of 35%. The participants contributed immensely by providing indepth answers to the open-ended questions, enabling me to analyze the material from both a quantitative and a qualitative angle.

According to previous research conducted on ideals among journalists, Finnish journalists are united by their respect for core ideals such as autonomy, objectivity and public service. Modern journalism is also based on individual ethics. It has also shown that organizational culture is a strong force and that editorial offices in Finland want to stay independent from outside pressure.

The respondents were generally aware of, and emphasized, the importance of the core ideals: being trustworthy, fact-based, neutral, independent, critical, a watchdog of democracy, and explaining complicated things in an accessible manner. They mostly depend on the Guidelines for Journalists in Finland and on their own judgement. The majority reported being satisfied with their jobs, but they were also critical and gave suggestions for improvements. Mainly they were concerned about a lack of focus on journalistic quality, and called for better leadership. For the future, the journalists hoped for more colleagues and resources for investigative journalism. At the present, many were worried about stress and a lack of organizational plan and guidance. This is likely related to the fact that a significant number of the participants felt they had succumbed to pressure from superiors and/or from outside the editorial office – pressure that forced them to abandon their own sense of journalistic ideals, and, as a consequence, affected their journalistic work.

The importance of this thesis lies in the information it provides about forces influencing the Swedish-language journalism today. It also outlines what the participants wish for and expect in the future. As such, the thesis is a valuable source of information for media managers and ‘food for thought’ among journalists who wish to improve their work.

I have found working with this thesis to be a great learning period concerning both the academic work process and the immersion into the basic ideals of my profession. I have gained tools for analyzing and pinpointing many of the problems I have sensed for a long time, and now have facts to substantiate.

 

Recommended readings:

Guidelines for Journalists, 2014, The Union of Journalists in Finland. Available: https://journalistiliitto.fi/en/ground-rules/guidelines/. Accessed: 7.1.2019.

Juntunen, L., 2009, Journalistinen etiikka kriisissä: Kiireen ja kilpailun haasteet toimittajien ammatilliselle itsekurille, Media & viestintä, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 31–47. Available: https://scholar.google.fi/scholar?hl=sv&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=
juntunen+Journalistinen+etiikka+kriisissa%CC%88&btnG=

Koljonen, K., 2013, Journalistien korkeat ja notkeat ihanteet: Toimittajaeetoksen muutoksen tarkastelua journalismin avainsuhteilla, Tampere university, Tampere.

Nygren, G., 2013, Bland multireportrar och innehållsleverantörer. In: På väg mot medievärlden 2020: Journalistik, teknik, marknad, 5th edition, Studentlitteratur, Lund, pp. 269–291.

Wiik, J., 2010, Journalism in Transition: The Professional Identity of Swedish Journalists, PhD, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg. Available: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/21853

 

The full thesis may be downloaded from Theseus.fi from July 2019.

Are you looking for tools to manage the rapidly changing media industry? Or do you find yourself in the media industry struggling to see the bigger picture? Learn more about our MA in Media Management here: https://www.arcada.fi/en/master/media-management