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Finland – (E8) Level of self-regulation (performance)

Score in short:

Self-regulation is based on the ethical guidelines whose application varies from media to media.

Score in detail:

According to the interviews, the ethical guidelines generally enjoy relatively high esteem and are well known, although some concern was expressed about the younger generation of journalists. Problems of increasing workload and time pressure are typically identified as threats that may compromise ethical standards. In a survey of Finnish journalists, over half of Finnish journalists believed that the ethical standards and autonomy of journalists would decrease in the future (JyrkiÀinen 2008, p. 50).

The right to reply and corrections are guaranteed on the level of both the code of ethics and media law. As noted above, all media organizations are also committed to publishing the notices of the Council for Mass Media. Most news media also have their own internal guidelines in one form or another. Mostly, these guidelines are used to complement the Guidelines of Journalists and to give more detailed instructions on the practices of the media organization in question.

Most media organizations also have more general mission statements, which almost invariably refer to democratic values, independence, balance, pluralism, and so forth.

Some individual media organizations in Finland have experimented with the use of an independent ombudsman, but the practice has not become widespread and none of the editors-in-chief interviewed considered it necessary. one respondent claimed that there is no need for an independent ombudsman to deal with complaints, in part because of the effective national system, but also because editors-in-chief themselves are easily accessible to the public in Finland.

Most media in the sample also claimed to exercise some form of organized process of self-criticism. Resolutions of the Council for Mass Media are typically discussed together with the journalists involved and sometimes with the whole newsroom. Some of the respondents also spontaneously acknowledged that recent debates on crisis reporting and political scandals have led to more in-depth discussions on ethics within the newsrooms. overall, most respondents regarded the current system of self-regulation as serviceable but not perfect. For many, further development of ethical norms and practices is also primarily a matter of professionalism and journalistic culture, rather than written rules, which were largely seen as adequate already.