Our Warlike Media
Readers of Hbl may have noticed that there was on ti 27.06. a report about efforts to organize a ”fredsläger” on Åland for the same time when there would be a military exercise (with US participation) in the Östersjö.
According to the article, the idea is to get peace activists together (including Russians) and let also them have an exercise (during which every participant would, each according to her/his skills and experience but in coordination with the other participants, do her/his best to counteract a developing buildup of military tension. Which I think a good and even noble intention; and the way the organizer (one Pelle Sunvisson) explained the matter during an interview, his ideas and expectations concerning this fredsläger are actually very realistic and reasonable.
What was remarkable, though, was the way Hbl published the matter: on page 1 a big headline ”Svensk-ryskt fredsläger på Åland väcker protester” followed by a somewhat smaller headline ”Ytterst naivt att tro att man kan främja freden på det här sättet” (this a quote from ”Finlands förre ambassadör i Moskva, Hannu Himanen”); this, while the article showed that at least Pelle Sunvisson is anything but naiv in his expectations … . The matter continues on page 4: a huge headline says ”Ex-ambassadör: Fredsläger på Åland en rysk operation”, followed by a long piece in which Himanen is again quoted at length. And if one pays attention to his formulations one finds that he has really nothing to go by than his personal scepticism (whatever Russia is doing is bad beforehand, even – and especially? – if it makes an effort to improve its image in the West). Altogether an extremely tendentious presentation, signed by Maria Gestrin-Hagner. And not enough with that: on the next day there was a ledare by Tommy Westerlund in which he points at recent military activity in the Östersjö, painting Russia as the one who provokes, ending his article by opting for Himanen’s view of the fredsläger.
Well, I was sending some critical comment to both Gestrin-Hagner and Westerlund (to which they did not react), but that was still not the end of it. Today (torsdag), when queuing at the kassa in my usual foodshop, I noticed that Ilta Sanomat had taken up the matter of the fredsläger with a very suspicious headline and a picture which gave a rather sinister/threatening impression … . Altogether, what is going on here? Do people want to please the Trump USA at any price (well, SFP WAS – and presumably is still – very willing to join NATO)? Or is it simply so that the late president Koivisto was correct when comparing journalists to a ”sopulilauma” (following blindly once somebody has come up with any interpretation at all of an event which is a bit too difficult for their – obviously limited – intelligence)? The latter interpretation would perhaps also fit the summer season – the more intelligent and careful journalists being already on holiday (?). Anyway we do at the moment have the problem that Finnish media are very obviously very unwilling to support any peace activism, preferring to cultivate the idea of Russia as ”the enemy” (while not minding at all that the USA – who right now are becoming more and more aggressive in the Middle East, promise huge amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia, try to push a conflict with Iran – are also involved in the Östersjö). One could call it ”feeding war”.
Obviously we have a situation in which our media are behaving grossly irresponsible. And this is not the first time: the brexit was to quite some extent brought about by irresponsible media, the same can be suspected about the fact that the US society is ”split down the middle”, and of the effect of the media on the treatment of minorities we have quite a number of examples. – Well, conflict just sells so really well … . But for the system this is obviously not good. Thus, I should like to revive an old suggestion of mine: There are institutions which are supervising the quality of the food which is sold, and I think there should be an institution which is responsible for supervising the quality of the information which the media are spreading (classifying them according to the reliability of the information, also according to relevance, journalistic care, etc.) and labeling them (with accompanying explanations) at regular intervals accordingly, in ways which cannot be hidden by the affected media. Perhaps this could help, perhaps not, but anyway this (or something still better) should be seriously considered.