The mood coming from the direction of where the editors-in-chief’s sat, was one of utter amazement as well as denial. Al Avai captures it perfectly in following. The names of the panelists as well as where it took place, are not mentioned due to the privacy of the meeting and assurances guaranteed.
The subject was Israel in the media.
The evening lasted about 2.5 hr, half an hour longer than scheduled. It was well attended — I didn’t count, but I think there were well over 100 present. The panel discussion lasted more than 1 hr, followed by questions from the floor and responses by both sides of the panel. I have to say that the professor (for the bias motion) was absolutely brilliant — well prepared, on the point, ready with the facts. The prof kept hammering away at the point that journalists may err, but in the case of Israel and the Palestinians the errors always fall on one side of the distribution.
The professor tried to make them see that the ways in which the errors are made are clearly modern versions of traditional antisemitism. She said if it is not antisemitism, than what is the explanation? The press gave the usual stories of “sympathy for victims” etc. The press actually made no convincing points on anything.
Well know Finnish TV personality (for the bias motion) did an excellent job as well, and brought up clear points as a moderator. The professor passed on the analyses on paper to the press. The press, I think, were surprised that members of the meeting followed their actions so closely, and felt so deeply on the matter.
The EIC of the capital’s main news daily came across as somewhat jaded and cynical, an older, clever, and very competent fox; the EIC of Finland’s TV/Radio news organization left the impression of being a hockey sportscaster who somehow is in charge of a news service, a “regular Finn,” whereas the EIC of the second language news daily appeared to be a somewhat arrogant, liberalist product of 1968. He couldn’t much defend the “Israel slaughters family in revenge attack” headline, which the professor put on the overhead projector.
All in all, they never came to admit that there might be bias, or that there might be an antisemitic basis. They certainly don’t have the faintest idea of what antisemitism is in practice– the EIC of Finland’s TV/Radio news organization could stare it in the face and still not recognize it. What I think they got out of it: they didn’t know that we knew what they were up to, that we followed them closely, but now they do. Hopefully, this will have the same effect as on the drivers who realize a road has speed monitors.
They were asked, will it take a doctoral dissertation to prove the bias? Will they go and examine the situation themselves? Time will tell, but I think the power of close analysis of a string of news events, such as over the last few weeks in Gaza, was very obvious.
If time allowed for it, I would have gone on further to add, that there is a growing body of people here in Finland that are fed up with the faulty news reporting the Finnish media dishes out on a daily basis, and they come from every sector of society. What will be enough proof for the pontiffs of journalistic ethics, to convince them that there is indeed a problem, and that they are in need to police themsleves much better than they do.
For those of you that follow the Tundra Tabloids on a regular basis, you are then already familiar with what kind of bad news reporting is in question. The failure to hold the Arabs to the same moral and ethical standards that the West holds itself to, is classical racism. They’re “like that so no need to expect too much from them”. Sorry Charlie, but that old song and dance doesn’t wash anymore. It never did.
If the Finnish media is ever to regain its status of honesty, ethics and high moral standards, it has to jettison the ideological baggage it attained from the radical sixties, during the time Ol’ Scruffy learned his ethics in the halls of Lenism, and YLE was used as a testing ground for the dissemination of Soviet propaganda to the West. Has the Finnish news media learned a lesson? The Tundra Tabloids promises to keep you informed. *L* KGS