The nationalist significance of the development of a
written Finnish language and the importance of a national literature cannot be emphasized
enough. The Finnish Literature Society, founded in 1831, raised Finnish to a national
language to challenge the position held by Swedish. Universal literacy in Finnish and
familiarity with Finland's national literature became a matter of pride, patriotism and
resistance to foreign dominance. In some respects, the Finnish-language movement was
similar to the American resistance to British rule, in which an attempt was also made to
create an American language as a distinct alternative to British English, British rule and
In this vein, Elias Lönnrot published his collection of peasant poetry and songs, which he gathered mostly from Finnish and Russian Karelia. The Kalevala, which first appeared in 1828, was of utmost importance in giving Finland a "national spirit. Many Finns with names of Swedish origin even went so far as to change their names to the Finnish equivalent and began speaking Finnish, instead of their native Swedish, at home.
See Eino Jutikkala, A History of Finland (Espoo: Weilin + Goos, 1984).
According to an October 30, 1994 report in the Helsingin Sanomat:
In Finland, of 5 million inhabitants, over 1 million under the age of 30 are taking part in a program of schooling or higher education. Every year 800,000 employees take part in furthering their education at employers' expense. Nearly 2 million Finns take part in evening adult education programs. Finnish literacy rates are the highest in the world. The per-capita number of students in Finland are among the highest among the OECD countries.
From the original HS report, translation mine:
Yli miljoona alle 30-vuotiasta pakertaa kouluissa ja yliopistoissa. 800 000 palkansaajaa päntää vuosittain lisäoppia työnantajansa kustannuksella. Lähes kaksi miljoonaa ahertaa aikuiskoulutuksessa....Suomalaisten lukutaito on maailman huippua. Väkilukuun verattuna opiskelijamäärät Suomessa ovat OECD-maiden korkeimpia.
The World Economic Forum and Lausanne Institute of Management Development report lists the top ten countries with the most qualified workforces in the world. These are, in descending order, Singapore, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Norway, the U.S., Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland. This ranking combines "quality of public education, levels of secondary schooling and on-the-job training, computer literacy, and worker motivation." Europe scored highest on educational standards, but, as Business Week explains,
...education alone is not enough; if it were, Europe would be better positioned. But the emphasis on general education, and a frequent lack of vocational training, could leave Europe short of qualified technicians. 'People are traditionally well-educated, but their skills are no longer in sync with work,' says Stephane Garrelli, professor at IMD, a top European business school. "Nor do demographics favor Europe: Outside of Japan, Asian populations are far younger."
Source: Business Week, 17/10/1994, 55.
As Finland continued to industrialize, the Finnish labor movement, as in other western countries, began to become a force to be dealt with. The earliest period in the history of the workers movement in Finland is know as the "Wrightian" period, named after the manufacturer Viktor Julius von Wright. In the cities, a small group of factory owners initiated reforms which would serve to channel workers' needs to organize into "company unions."
Within literary circles such writers as Minna Canth were sympathetic with the landless peasants and workers' movement and expressed shock at the growing poverty in the larger cities. In the 1880s contact was established with the workers' movement in Germany by N.R. Af Ursin, a professor in Turku. After Af Ursin's return to Finland from Germany, he was instrumental in starting a "workers' association," together with Minna Canth and edited the publication, Vapaita Aatteita ("Free Thoughts") in Kuopio, in which current questions were discussed concerning the international movement for workers' rights.
See Raoul Palmgren, Työläiskirjallisuus (Porvoo: Söderstrom, 1965.)
Many Swedish-speaking Finns learned Finnish and many Finnish-speaking Finns have learned Swedish or taken Swedish names. The Swedish-speakng minority in Finland is, therefore, less of an ethnic minority than, for example, in the United States.
Also of importance to Finnish society is that fact that, throughout the years of Russian rule, Finland continued to maintain strong cultural ties with the former mother country, Sweden, and even developed its trade with more distant Germany. This trade was made possible by the fact that Finland was one of the many places on the Baltic trade routes of the Hansa merchants.
Growing nationalist sentiments and an increasingly active workers movement caused Finland to become the object of much criticism within Russian ruling circles. Finland's movement for nationhood even became something of a cause célèbre among European intellectuals, because it stood for progress and defiance against the threat from the backward (aristocratic) east. From the Russian point of view, Finland's geographical proximity to St. Petersburg, could also pose a serious military and political threat to Russian and Russia's second-largest city. As passive resistance to "russification" increased, Finland's state of affairs, in relation to Czarist Russia, had degenerated into extreme crisis by 1903 and the new, Marxist Finnish labor party, now known as the Finnish Social Democratic Party, began to involve itself in the resistance to czarism and russification as well.
See Eino Jutikkala, A History of Finland (Espoo: Weilin + Goos, 1984) and Juhani Mylly, R. Michael Berry (eds.), Political Parties in Finland : Essays in History and Politics (Turku: Dept. of Political History, University of Turku, 1984).
Although the Social Democrats were divided over the question of supporting Finland's movement for nationalism, considered by some to be led by "bourgeois nationalists," the 1905 revolution in Russia suddenly changed the rules. The Social Democrats, with support from workers in the cities and crofters in the countryside, organized a general strike in October of 1905, resulting in a "Red Manifesto" which called for the resignation of the Finnish cabinet. Demands included universal suffrage, a direct vote to the national assembly and a provisional government. On the same day another manifesto was signed into law by the Russian czar: This manifesto, however, was submitted by the right-wing of Finland's Constitutionalist Party which gave Finland, still a Grand Duchy, a unicameral legislature and universal suffrage, which included suffrage for women over the age of 24 -- making Finland one of the first countries in the world to enfranchise women. As revolution and instability in Russia spread, Finnish society became increasingly polarized. Helsinki workers pledged full support for the Russian workers' and soldiers' councils, while organizing a general strike.
Raoul Palmgren, Työläiskirjallisuus (Porvoo: Söderstrom, 1965), Eino Jutikkala, A History of Finland (Espoo: Weilin + Goos, 1984), and John H. Hodgson, Communism in Finland: A History and Interpretation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.
See Heikki Ylikangas, Tie Tampereelle : dokumentoitu kuvaus Tampereen antautumiseen johtaneista sotatapahtumista Suomen sisällissodassa 1918 (Porvoo and Helsinki: Juva WSOY, 1993).
For an analysis of this period and deeper insights into the actual party alliances, their strengths and weaknesses, of the 1930s in Finland, see D. G. Kirby, Finland in the Twentieth Century (London: C. Hurst & Company, 1979), 94-101.
See Hermann Beyer-Thoma, Kommunisten und Sozialdemokraten in Finnland 1944-48 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrowitz, 1990). (Veroffentlichungen des Osteuropa-Insitutes Munchen. Reihe Geschichte Bd. 57).
For an assessment of the postwar period in Finland see: John H. Hodgson, Communism in Finland: A History and Interpretation. See also: Jaakko Nousiainen, The Finnish Political System, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971.
Michael R. Berry, George Maude, Jerry Schuchalter, Frontiers of American Political Experience (Turku: Turun yliopiston julkaisuja, 1990).
Bernt Oestergaard, ed., The Media in Western Europe (London: Sage, 1992) 47-56.
A comparison with 19th-century America can be made in that a large proportion of Finnish newspaper circulation, up until the last decade, was made up of party, co-operative and religious publications. In America the portion of newspapers designed to generate revenue for private owners increased dramatically at the end of the 1800s.
During the 1980s the ownership of newspapers in Finland became concentrated into fewer hands, a trend which continues today at an ever-increasing rate. The three biggest newspapers, Helsingin Sanomat, Turun Sanomat and Aamu Lehti dominate the market. Finland's largest publisher of newspapers is Sanoma OY which also owns Helsingin Sanomat, the leading newspaper with a circulation of nearly half a million.
Bernt Oestergaard, ed., 47-56.
It should be pointed out, however, that much of the new literature which appears in Finland is imported from abroad and then translated for the Finnish market.
Heiner Schönecker, "TV in Finnland: Fluch oder Segen?" Nordeuropa Forum, No. 3, 1992, 22-24.
Marko Jokela, "Suomalainen käyttää päivässä yli 7 tuntia joukkoviestimiin," Helsingin Sanomat, September 2, 1994.
The most acceptable model, according to those who participated in this study, is STT-Uutiset, the Finnish news agency.
Kymmenen Uutiset, the commercial channel's most popular evening news program, was derided as "play news" ("leikki-uutiset") by some Finns when it first started. Now, it is accepted and preferred by most younger Finns. Radio Mafia, one of the state radio broadcasters, has adopted the commercial style, no doubt, in expectation that future legislation will allow them to introduce commercials at a later date.
Saame, or Sami, is the language of the native population of Lappland, in the north.
Helsingin Sanomat, August, 1993: "Norrback kiirehtii yleisradiolain käsittelyä: Liikenneminister Ole Norrback (r) kiirehtii yleisradiolain käsittelyä. Hän toivoo...lain tulevan voimaan jo vuodenvaihteessa."
In 1983 40 percent of Americans got all their news from television. See: Peggy Charren and Martin W. Sandler, Changing Channels (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1983), 64
According to a 1964 Roper Organization survey, newspapers and television scored even marks as sources for news in the United States. Since then, television has been increasing in popularity.
Dan Hallin, The "Uncensored War": The Media and Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 106.
Finland has adopted the German PAL system. Incidentally, HTV, Finland's first big cable television company, re-transmitted the Estonian signal to Helsinki cable subscribers.
Today, textualized news, instead of a test pattern, fills the screen during daytime hours.
Specialized programming for minorities is one of the principles of public broadcasting which will, no doubt, suffer if commercial television becomes dominant in Finland. Many Finnish-speaking Finns have stated that they prefer to change to the commercial channel on Monday and Tuesday nights. Two of the minority ethnic groups in Finland include the Romano and Saame peoples.
Such a "tradition" or "life-style" can only be compared with America in the 1930s, when certain nationwide radio programs were listened to together by all family members of most American households.
YLE's evening news broadcast was changed from 9:15 to 8:30 in the 1970s. With the threat that commercial television would take its audience after the second channel stopped showing the news, YLE attempted to extend its format, with a commercial in between. This attempt failed miserably, provoking considerable attention in the local press. For the time being, the evening news remains in the 8:30 slot.
Heiner Schönecker, "TV in Finnland: Fluch oder Segen?" Nordeuropa Forum, No. 3, 1992, 22-24.
Examples are gathered from Finland's version of TV guide, Katso: johtava tv- ja radiolehti, no. 22, May 30 - June 5, 1965.
Data gathered from chart by Niemi, Iiris and Kiiski, Salme and Liikkanen, Mirja, Suomalaisten ajankäyttö 1979, 109-111. Tutkimuksia No. 65. Helsinki: Tilastokeskus, 1981. As printed in Hellman and Sauri, Suomalainen Prime-Time, 17.
The date of broadcast was June 12, 1994.
All Finnish households with a television set are required to pay Yleisradio an annual fee of roughly 800 Finnish Marks (nearly $200 US dollars) for television subscriptions. Not paying the fee is considered a crime and punishable by law. This law, however, is under review by the Eduskunta and could be amended or reversed entirely.
For many years it has been the custom on Finnish radio (YLE) to feature the "bird of the week" during slots between programs. The idea is, of course, to guess what kind of bird it is and to familiarize oneself with that particular bird's call. Therefore, to be given five minutes of bird song before the evening news report comes as no great surprise to Finns (something which is not likely to occur on CNN).
The lead and main story, about Austria's vote for the European Union, lasts 4 minutes and 22 seconds; the second story, about Finnish Prime Minister Aho, who is in a stage of indecision over Finland's upcoming membership in the EU, is 3 minutes, 18 seconds in length; the last main story, which comes at the very end after a series of shorter stories, about Finnish television's popular entertainment program "Kummeli," which is now appearing on the outdoor stage, is 2 minutes, 45 seconds long.
In a recent article in Helsingin Sanomat, (Leena Lavonius and Katja Niemelä, "Television uutistenlukijaan suomalainen luottaa") it was determined, on the basis of a poll taken by Otantatutkimus Oy, that, Suomalaiset uskovat, että uutisankkuri Arvi Lind puhuu totta (Finns believe that news anchor Arvi Lind tells the truth). In fact, televison news anchors in Finland were shown to be trusted by 91 per cent of those asked. Finnish politicians, on the other hand, enjoyed the confidence of only 10 per cent of those polled.
The Finnish Language Research Center also operates a "Language Office" (Kielitoimisto) which answers telephone requests and offers courses concerning the proper use of the Finnish language. New words, including foreign-language terminology, are standardized by the Language Office for general use (for example the office recommends that the Finnish word media not be written or pronounced "meedia," because of the word's latin origins). See Kielikello, 2/1994, 36.
Translation: Mielestäni uutisjuontaja ei saisi näyttää tunteitaan lähetyksessä, oli asia mikä hyvänsä. Turkulainen, 5/10/1994, 8.
In cross-examining this paper, some students were convinced that Lind reads the news from his paper while off camera.
See Osmo Ikola, "Kirjakieli ja puhekieli, yleiskieli ja murre," in Sananjalka : Suomen kielen seuran vuosikirja, (Turku: Turku Suomen kielen seura, 1972). For a more up-to-date discussion on this very interesting topic see Pekka Isotalus, "Onko toimittajan televisioesiintymisellä merkitystä?" and Aino Sallinen, "Miten kirjoitetun kielen mallit vaikuttavat puhumiseen," in Pekka Isotalus, ed., Puheesta ja vuorovaikutuksesta (Jyväskylä: Viestintätieteiden laitos, 1994)and Heikki Paunonen, "Puhekieli irtoaa kirjoitetun suomen kielen normeista," in Helsingin Sanomat, January 6, 1993.
Concerning the use of a "kicker" at the end of the news report, the commercial channel's so-called loppu kevennys, a copy of the American-styled "kicker," is considered somewhat controversial by some Finnish viewers but seen positively and eagerly awaited by others.
YLE's TV weather report also very much reflects a traditional non-commercial broadcasting environment. For example, in a recent Helsingin Sanomat questions-and-answers column, "Ask Kirsti" (Kysy Kirstiltä), the question arose of why American weather reports always include jetstream and chill factor information. According to Kirsti, the jet stream was actually discovered by a Finn, Erik Palmén. However, according to Juha Föhr, Finland's best known TV meterologist, "his American colleagues [meaning the TV Weather Reporters in the United States] are able to produce quite an entertaining speech out of the day's jetstream." [...hänen amerikkalainenkollegansa voi tehdä päivän suihkuvirtauksesta melkoista puheviihdettä.] It seems, therefore, that "the contents of a weather report [on Finnish television] are affected more by the local weather conditions than by culture." [Säätiedotusten sisältöön vaikuttavat kuitenkin kulttuuria enemmän kunkin ilmastoalueen tärkeät sääilmioöt].
"Kysy Kirstitiltä," Helsingin Sanomat, 15/1/1994, D10.
In a recent discussion of the American and Finnish media's reporting of the sinking of the Estonian ferryship Estonia, students of the social sciences and humanities at Turku University were of the opinion that the American reports were "more personal," as if "telling a story." The Finnish reports, on the other hand, were "more factual," with "detailed data."
This is not in any way meant to degrade or debase
the talents of YLE journalists. On the contrary, the same dilemma now faces YLE that is
facing America's PBS (Public Broadcasting System). In the United States funding for public
broadcasting is now being put more and more into question. Finns and their YLE, like PBS,
cannot have it both ways: One must eventually decide whether one wants to have a
commercial broadcaster or remain a public broadcaster. As Representative Bernie Sanders
(Ind.-Vermont) stated during a recent debate on an amendment that would cut funding for
Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is at a crossroads.... If it wants to resemble commercial television, if it wants to go out and hunt for more and more corporate money, then maybe we should say once and for all that it should become a private entity which competes in the corporate media.... But I do not think that is what it should be. It seems to that in a time when more and more of the media is controlled by big money, it is imperative that we really do have a public broadcasting system which deals with the real problems facing the working people of America. Tonight I will oppose Mr. Crane's amendment. I hope PBS changes, or next year I will not.
--The Congressional Record, June 28, 1994.
Based on information collected from surveys among students at Turku University.
See Heikki Hellman and Tuomo Sauri, Suomalainen Prime-Time. (Jyväskyla: Jyväskylän yliopisto, 1988), 27-39.
More changes in YLE's style of presentation have been implemented. Although there are still no commercials in YLE's news, in early spring of 1995 YLE-Uutiset inserted a pause in the middle of the news presentation, one similar to those in PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. The anchor also initiates, in every program, a short discussion with the meteorologist before the weather is presented. These changes, while far from "happy talk," (discussed earlier) do resemble more closely the templates used in American commercial news reporting and reflect the pressures for change now being exerted on YLE by its commercial rivals.
To be fair to CNN, it should be pointed out that much more than just "breaking news" stories are offered, especially on CNN International. A typical weekday schedule in Finland will include, in addition to headline news, world news, several business reports, an international hour, entertainment news, etc.
Hank Whittemore, CNN: The Inside Story (Little, Brown and Company: New York 1990), 223.
From the documentary film, "Voyeur for the Millions," written and edited by Rolf Börjlind, Lars Ragnar Forsberg, and Bertil Larson for Swedish Television, Channel 1.
Hank Whittemore, CNN: The Inside Story (Little, Brown and Company: New York 1990).
Hank Whittemore, CNN: The Inside Story (Little, Brown and Company: New York 1990), p. 251-252. According to Whittemore, Ted Turner "even went into the studio to record part of a music video whose lyrics went this way..."
Regardless of the legend, however, Turner has stated that he would like to own one of the networks himself. According to an interview in St. Petersburg, Russia, on August 1, 1994, Turner said that he could not "set any timetable" for buying one of the big networks, but "I'm just expressing a desire. I mean sooner would be better than later. But I've waited 10 years now... I think basically all three of them are available for the right deal."
According to a January 19, 1995 report from the Associated Press: "The goal of BBC World will be to become Europe's premier international news program... BBC says its audience surveys show many European viewers find CNN too superficial and too American. CNN's London office had no immediate comment."