Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator

Finland – (E7) Code of ethics at the national level (structure)

Score in short:

All leading news media have committed to the common code of ethics.

Score in detail:

The Council for Mass Media is a self-regulating committee established in 1968 by the publishers’ and journalists’ unions. Its task is to interpret good professional practice and defend freedom of speech and publication. According to the interviews, the status of the guidelines is fairly strong and they are well known within the profession.

The Council is exclusively a self-governing body, although about one third of its funding comes from public funds. Anyone is free to file a complaint about a breach of good professional practice in the media. If the Council establishes a violation, it issues a notice that all organizations that have signed the charter of the Council are obliged to publish without delay. Practically all Finnish news media have signed the Charter. The Council can also issue general policy statements. In 2008, the Council received 222 complaints, of which 95 were investigated and 24 led to a notice of violation. All the resolutions are also available on the website of the Council. occasionally the resolutions have also incited public debate on media ethics.

Despite periodic criticism directed at the effectiveness of the existing self-regulatory practices, the system is strongly established and remains known among journalists. The system has occasionally been criticized for being too reactive and rigid, failing to initiate enough debate on truly fundamental issues, and for leaving out new online actors that compete with traditional professional journalism. In response, the Council has expressed its wish to also initiate debate on important ethical issues in addition to merely reacting to complaints.

In addition to the Council for Mass Media, the Union of Journalists in Finland also states that it has a special responsibility to defend journalism and its ethical rules. Alongside its 18 member associations, the Union organizes various courses and other activities to disseminate good journalistic practices. It also publishes the biweekly professional journal Journalisti, whichsustains debate on journalistic practices and ethics. The guidelines for Journalists include provisions regarding the accountability of the media to civil society, stating that: “A journalist is primarily responsible to the readers, listeners and viewers. They have the right to know what is happening in society” (Council for Mass Media 2005).