Diversity in Finnish media is a theme that divides the professional field. Different themes related to identity, diversity and representation were addressed in the 2021 Vikes EU project.
2021 was a busy year for Vikes’ EU-funded I am European project.
In 2021, the social media campaign specifically targeted boys and young men, as well as young journalists. In the spring, the campaign continued with the Finngredients theme launched in 2022, the main purpose of which has been to stimulate discussion about identity, diversity and the changing Finnish identity.
The Instagram collaboration with the MolyBros duo reached 47 800 young people, 64% of whom were boys or young men. The Finngredients-themed studio debate was also produced and implemented by Jami Passi and Joonatan Knuutila, both high school students from Vaasa.
The My Tomorrow, Our Future workshop tour, which has been plagued by the corona era, finally got underway in autumn 2021. The workshops for young people started with thought-provoking mini-plays produced with Q Theatre’s Youth Theatre, after which participants worked in groups on questions of identity, media power and discrimination. The results of this reflection were discussed with journalists, social media influencers and researchers.
During 2021, a total of 65 young people participated in the workshops.
In spring 2021, Vikes also organised an international speaking programme, when Romayne Javangwe spoke about future identities at the virtual World Village festival.
In the autumn, Vikes worked closely with RARE Media, which published in 2021, based on its own research. Whose information? -guide. The content collaboration focused on Instagram, reflecting on representations and their meanings and highlighting journalists’ views on media plurality.
The cooperation culminated in a Representation Matters club evening in Tampere in November, where more than 160 media professionals or students attended the discussion.
Four training sessions for young journalists
The project also organised four training sessions for young journalists working in Finland. A total of 146 journalists participated.
The trainings addressed unconscious bias, pluralism, inclusiveness and intersectionality in journalism and communication. Feedback showed that 96% of the participants intended to use the lessons learned in their work.
During the project, the perception that power relations, media pluralism and the recognition of one’s own privileges is a theme that divides the Finnish media scene has been strengthened. The editorial staff is still rather monophonic: white and middle-class, although Finland has already become more diverse.
Vikes’ trainings are attended by journalists who are trying to make the industry more diverse, but at the same time there are many journalists who are unfamiliar with these issues and it is difficult to motivate them on the importance of the topic.
One solution could be to support active change-minded journalists, on the one hand, and to influence media executives themselves, on the other, to bring more pluralism and fairness to editorial and content.
Support for organisations, prize for journalists
As part of the project, Vikes has also distributed grants to organisations working with young people.
In 2021, support was provided to Taksvärkki, Asylum Seekers’ Support, CISV, the UN Association of Finland, the Peace Education Institute and the Culture and Religion Forum Fokus ry.
The support will be used to create film workshops, video campaigns and training courses, among other things.
Founded by Vikes, the Finnish Red Cross, the Union of Journalists in Finland and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, the Development Journalism Prize was also part of the I am European project. The prize, awarded for the first time in 2021, was won by freelance journalist Taina Tervonen with her article “Ship of the Lost” published in Image magazine. An honourable mention went to the YLE’s External Line team for their mobile story “Maria”.