Finland

Jessikka Aro: It’s Crucial That Journalists Become Watchdogs Once Again

Jessikka Aro is an investigative reporter with YLE Kioski, the social media forum run by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. Aro specializes in Russia, information warfare, security and extremism.
Back in 2014, she started a crowdsourced investigation of pro-Russia info war trolls and a St. Petersburg troll factory. She then became the target of serious harassment by pro-Kremlin propagandists. Now, she is working on a brand new investigative book on the information warfare waged by the Putin regime.
 
Q: How did you become interested in covering media and power, in your case Russian propaganda?
Jessikka Aro: As a child I was already interested in Russia and Soviet Union because my grandmother told me about her experiences of having to evacuate herself from her home in Karelia, when the Soviet Union started to occupy Finland in her youth. Later, I befriended people who had lived in the Soviet Union, not so far from Finland, and [saw] how their society had been totally different from Western society.
I found their stories extremely interesting - as well as a bit scary - so I started to study Russian and study more about Finland’s big neighbor.

Trust in Journalists and News Media Sinks to New Lows

The news media industry has been faced with a profound crisis for more than a decade now, and peoples' dwindling trust in journalists has much to do with it.
 
May was a nightmarish month for the 500 staff of Mega, the oldest privately owned channel in Greece, as the station was faced with closure following mounting debts, mostly to banks. In the end, the three families that control the channel - Psiharis, Bobolas and Vardinogiannis - agreed to increase Mega’s capital to save the channel from bankruptcy.
 
But the Mega crisis is illustrative of a much bigger problem that Greek journalism has been facing for years: the collusion between media and politics. Most of the country’s mainstream media was established by businessmen merely as PR channels for their other companies. Politicians don’t touch them as they enjoy the positive coverage; and owners fund the media through profits made in other companies.
 
It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, to see Greece at the bottom of the heap when it comes to trust in news organizations and journalists. Only one in five trust the news in Greece and a paltry 11% trust journalists, according to a survey run in 26 countries worldwide by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ).
 
Greece is not alone. Journalism has a growing trust problem in many other places.
 

The Most and Least Affordable Internet: From the U.K. to the Central African Republic

Journalists are now able to reach billions of people all over the world. But for many people in the global south, consuming their products is an extremely costly venture.
 
There has been no major journalism or media event in recent years without the word “digital” on the agenda. Digital gurus evangelize journalists about how easily they now can reach people anywhere in the world.
 
There is no doubt that journalistic content, bad or good, in today's age makes it to unknown corners of the world and reaches larger swathes of readership than ever before. And there is no doubt that the internet has hobbled vast parts of media industries.
 
But how many people can, in fact, surf the internet ad infinitum is a different story. The most connected people today are in places where journalism is facing the fewest problems (although it still goes through painful changes), and, ironically, they pay the least for their internet connection.
 
Elsewhere, the internet remains a significant cost for its users and in many countries in the global south it’s a luxury.