Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator

Finland – (F4) Internal rules for practice of newsroom democracy

Score in short:

Individual journalists seem to enjoy a high level of autonomy in daily journalistic decisions, but formal procedures to ensure internal democracy are few.

Score in detail:

Assessments of the extent of internal democracy practiced in the newsrooms were somewhat ambivalent.It was argued that individual journalistic autonomy is strongly entrenched in the Finnish journalistic culture. However, the independence and autonomy of individual journalists is generally guaranteed by journalistic culture rather than organizational structures or formal procedures.

The editors-in-chief and experts emphasized the individual autonomy of journalists in choosing and framing news topics. The leading editors generally co-ordinate the work of the newsroom, but they rarely interfere with the individual journalists’ decisions concerning how news items are portrayed and framed. While some considered the Finnish journalistic culture markedly individualistic, others emphasized the significance of internal deliberation and discussions within the newsroom.

On the other hand, there are few formal procedures to ensure internal democracy within the newsrooms. While values such as impartiality and autonomy are on a general level documented in codes-of-ethics and editorial guidelines, in practice they are ensured more effectively through journalistic culture and professional norms, rather than written guidelines.

A newsroom council does not have a formal status in any of the selected media outlets, and editors-in-chief and other leading positions are normally appointed by the management without any requirement to incorporate journalists. The newsroom may be consulted informally, and there are some cases in which staff objections have influenced the decisions of management. Aside from rules on the level of individual organizations, the majority of journalists are members of the Union of Journalists, whose task is to defend and supervise its members’ interests through collective bargaining.