From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Finish Journalist Lectures WIMSAL
By Aruna Turay
May 7, 2010, 17:44

The Editor for one of Finland’s leading Newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat Erja Vainikka-Howard has on Thursday 6th May 22010 presented a 35 minutes lecture to members of Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) at the headquarters of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ).

According to Mrs. Vainikka-Howard, Finland is said to be the dreamland of Newspapers, adding that they have the world’s third most readers of newspapers in relation to their population.

"We have about 200 (two hundred) Newspapers, 30 (thirty) of which are dailies, some are weekly and others monthly" she said, adding, "the papers are usually subscribed and delivered to people’s houses early in the morning instead of people buying them on the streets".

Erja Vainikka-Howard Posed with Cross Section of WIMSAL Members

Mrs. Vainikka-Howard went on that the subscription is generally rather expensive and as a result, many Newspapers are struggling to keep their large audiences retained, especially now that lots of news materials are offered for free on the Internet.

Additionally, she furthered, Finland also has about 70 (seventy) radio stations, adding that most of which are commercial stations.

She went on that media ownership is quite concentrated in Finland and that the country is basically divided between two big media corporations. Only a few papers remain outside these, such as her employer ‘Etelä-Suomen Sanomat’.

The female Editor went on that over half of the journalists in Finland are nowadays women and that many papers also try to take women readership well into account, citing an example that Etelä-Suomen Sanomat produces seven days a week reporting family issues, health and well-being, food, fashion, home decoration and gardening, amongst others, including things that are believed to be of interest for women.

She furthered that the fact that such a good number of journalists are women is not really very exceptional in Finland, because the same is true with for example Teachers, Doctors and other highly educated professions. She confirmed that at present in Finland more women get university degrees than men, adding that Finland also has a good quality day care system for under school-aged children, which helps women to pursue their careers.

Mrs. Vainikka-Howard noted that the basis of journalist’s work is freedom of speech and this she said is guaranteed in her country’s constitution.

According to her, Finland along with other Nordic countries is ranking among the best in the statistics, which are kept by organizations that keep track on press freedom in the world adding that there are no attacks on journalists who are doing their work by anyone.

On the other hand she pointed out that the media is required by the law to let people publicly comment on the stories where they are personally involved in so they can give the audience their side of the story.

"Media also has a duty to correct all wrong information and facts" she stressed, adding that the media in Finland has a self regulating system called the Council for Mass Media which is consists of mainly journalists, plus a few layman members. She said readers who consider some media’s actions unethical or against the good journalistic manner, can leave a complaint to the council, noting that if the council decides that the story has actually been unethical, the paper has to publish the verdict on its pages and that is considered embarrassing, because Finnish media takes reliability generally very seriously.

On her part, the President for Women in the Media Doreen Barrie thanked the foreign journalist for what she described as her "very educative and knowledge impacting presentation", adding that they have learnt a lot and hope to have a continuing relationship and experience sharing with Finish Journalists.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.