Minna Aslama

Theories of American Media Failure: A Post-Election Map

Everybody agrees that media helped, to a great extent, make Trump president. So what went wrong? The week after election day, theories about media failure flooded American public sphere. Minna Aslama summarizes them.
 
Everyone has become a political scientist today: the United States elections have sparked a cascade of theories about why few people within the country and abroad anticipated the outcome. Equally, many commentators, on TV or in the pub, claim that they saw it coming, but that no one listened to them.
 
Judging from the public debate in America and abroad after the elections, no other institution or phenomenon is as much to blame as the media for how badly informed the public was, which in the end was what led to the election of Donald Trump. When citizens, pundits, and the media themselves are all calling for the reinvention of quality journalism, reform of news organizations, and rethinking of social media algorithms, looking back and mapping the explanations of how it all went wrong is a useful, and in some ways cathartic, exercise.
 

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.

Public Service Media in Europe: Exit Through the Back Door?

Recent turbulence at the Polish public broadcaster was seen by some observers as another political football game. Public broadcasting will survive any market or policy changes, however tumultuous they are, they say. But Minna Aslama argues that public TV has fallen out of political favor in many countries now. Even well-established broadcasters in western countries are likely to be dramatically downsized.

Poland has been featured in global news in the past weeks. A controversial law was passed that allowed the replacement of the directors of Polish public TV and radio with political appointees.

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) notes that this may well be the first step by the Polish government in curbing all free media and commercial outlets. CIMA also reminds us that just a few years before Poland, Hungarians witnessed a severe media crackdown.
 

A New Corporate Accountability Index on Digital Rights Reveals: No Winners But Many Losers

Internet and telecommunications companies influence our world significantly, be it our personal interactions or political engagement. A new index has been developed to see how they fare in their general commitment to digital rights, as well as in terms of their practices regarding freedom of expression and privacy.
 
The Ranking Digital Rights, a project supported an impressive list of funders, research institutes and experts, launched the inaugural Corporate Accountability Index early November. In this first phase, the project has assessed 16 internet and telecommunications companies according to 31 specific indicators.
 
So who’s doing well?
 

Who Remembers WSIS: New Technologies, Old Problems

A decade ago, the UN set up a slew of goals for better usage of information and communication technologies. Now, they have started to assess what has been achieved. One thing is abundantly clear: we are still grappling with problems from the past. Here is a dispatch from inside the talks.

A decade ago, the United Nations (UN) organized the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a series of meetings to discuss the global role of  Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Their hopes were high for the beginning of true collaborations for development and democracy. WSIS created principles and  set up action plans and goals, ranging from access to technologies to online ethics. Now, ten years later, the UN wants to review what has been accomplished. This week, non-governmental organizations (NGO)s had their second round of the WSIS (known now as WSIS+10) informal consultations in New York to agree on the biggest challenges in the ICT field and call for global action.