Monthly Archives: November 2016

Emma Mether and Johanna Sumuvuori: Towards more ethical journalism

 

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Report on journalist workshop: Interpreting Crisis: Reporting on Migration, Asylum Seekers and the Syrian Conflict. Monday 24 October 2016, 11 am – 2 pm, EFJ, Brussels

On 24 October the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, the Finnish Institute in London, Felm, and the Media Diversity Institute organised a workshop at the European Federation of Journalists headquarters in Brussels. Two reports functioned as background for the workshop: The Representation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Newspapers (January 2016), carried out by the Finnish Institute in London and the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, and Syria in Global Media, commissioned by Felm during 2015-2016.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss the challenges journalists face when reporting on migration, asylum seekers and conflict, and to raise a dialogue on the preconditions and effects of journalism and on the challenges of reporting migration and the so called ‘refugee crisis’ in the press. The question at the centre of the workshop was: What are the ways to represent refugees and asylum seekers, and how is it possible to do versatile, ethical journalism on Syria?

Summary of the workshop discussion – key questions

Partiality

One of the crucial problems journalists face when reporting on conflict, is the difficulty to remain objective while at the same time not taking security risks. To be a reporter in the middle of a conflict area almost unequivocally means working with one side of the conflict. Freelance reporters not taking sides are often not trusted by either side, which makes it challenging to gain the trust of sources.

Additionally, media owners tend to buy stories from freelancers instead of sending in their own reporters, which puts freelance journalists in further hazard and uncertainty. Ironically, journalists working for large media companies are treated with more respect by representatives of all sides of a conflict, while freelance journalists are more vulnerable. How do we address these issues of safety and reliability?

“European crisis”

In terms of media coverage on the Syrian war, by far most of it is given to terrorism and conflict, the subjects being mostly males, as the Felm study suggests. Humanitarian aid and peace negotiations are given a considerably smaller amount of focus, as is the case with reports on women and children. This of course does not reflect reality. Regarding newspaper language, the Syrian conflict is often reported from a Eurocentric perspective, with the ‘crisis’ being one that faces Europe. The ‘refugee crisis’ is seen as a threat to a harmonious European society, similar in effect to the economic crisis. As such, a humanitarian point of view of the afflicted society is often absent, making the people affected stand out as a faceless mass, incomparable as people to the conflict-free societies of media consumers. The influence of the media on public opinion and world view is notable, which of course highlights the responsibility of journalists. What steps do we need to take to make media coverage and language more humane and closer to reality?

Syrian journalists are rarely consulted or hired when reporting on the Syrian war, further confirming the Euro- or West-centric point of view. Local reporters are automatically considered unreliable due to a preconception of them working for the propaganda of one of the conflicting sides. However, local reporters have the advantage of better understanding the culture and the experiences of the people affected. How do we create a bond with local reporters and include them in the reporting of their country?

Ethicality in the media has changed with the reports on Syria. It seems that traditional rules of ethics and the idea of moral conduct have been dropped, reflecting a new openness or directness also visible in the now prevalent hate speech on social media. How do we secure that ethicality standards are followed?

 Proposed solutions by the workshop

On the basis of the workshop discussion, a few main suggestions for future focus stood out.

Firstly, solidarity between journalists is crucial for professional cooperation and mutual understanding. Solidarity would mean safety protection and more openness, which in turn would allow for better coverage. It would also lower the threshold of working together with local reporters. Creating large-scale solidarity among journalists requires cooperation with non-political organisations.

Secondly, editorial processes should focus more vigorously on the ethical point of view. Ethical guidelines for journalism have been produced in abundance and are available. The issue is rather that, as the two studies show, reporting often does not follow these guidelines. A revision process is thus needed that would make the work visible and open for debate. This type of permanent and public monitoring would lead to a greater commitment to follow guidelines. The aim is a model for a new crisis journalism.

Finally, media education and media literacy should become a focus in education. This is something that needs to be relied to state-level decision makers in order to implement it in school curriculums, both at elementary and university level education. Although it is our aim, we cannot only trust that all reporters can be properly schooled in ethicality and that a discipline-wide solidarity will be rapidly built, but we must also take responsibility of teaching people how to read the media as it is now.

 

Emma Mether, Intern, Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux

Johanna Sumuvuori, Head of Programme (Society), The Finnish Institute in London

 

Emma Mether ja Johanna Sumuvuori: Kohti eettisempää journalismia

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Raportti journalismityöpajasta “Interpreting Crisis: Reporting on Migration, Asylum Seekers and the Syrian Conflict”, maanantaina 24.10.2016, EFJ, Byssel.

Suomen Lontoon instituutti ja Suomen Benelux-instituutti järjestivät 24.11.2016 pakolaisjournalismia käsittelevän journalismityöpajan yhteistyössä Felmin, The Media Diversity Instituten ja Euroopan journalistiliiton kanssa Brysselin kansainvälisessä mediakeskuksessa. Työpajaan osallistui toimittajia useista maista.

Työpaja perustui kahteen raporttiin: Suomen Lontoon instituutin ja Suomen Benelux-instituutin tekemään Pakolaiset ja turvapaikanhakijat sanomalehdissä -lehdistöselvitykseen (tammikuu 2016) sekä Felmin teettämään Syria in Global Media –raporttiin (2015-2016).

Työpajan tavoitteena oli avata keskustelua niistä haasteista, joita journalistit kohtaavat raportoidessaan maahanmuutosta, pakolaisista, turvapaikanhakijoista tai konflikteista. Työpaja keskusteli journalismin ennakkoehdoista ja seurannaisvaikutuksista. Käsittelyssä oli myös raportoinnin haasteet ja niin kutsutun “pakolaiskriisin” käsittely sanomalehdissä.

Ydinkysymyksinä oli, millä eri tavoin pakolaisia ja turvapaikanhakijoita kuvataan mediassa ja onko eettinen, monipuolinen journalismi Syyrian tilanteesta mahdollista.

Tiivistelmä työpajan keskeisistä kysymyksistä

Puolueellisuus

Yksi journalistien suurimmista työssään kohtaamista haasteista konfliktialueilla on objektiivisena pysymisen vaikeus. Objektiivisuuden pyrkimys voi tuoda mukanaan myös henkilökohtaisen turvallisuusriskin. Konfliktialueelta raportoiminen tarkoittaa lähes aina konfliktin yhden osapuolen myötävaikutuksella työskentelemistä. Ne freelance-toimittajat, jotka eivät valitse yhteistyökumppaneita, joutuvat helposti konfliktin kummankin osapuolen epäluottamuksen kohteiksi, mikä vaikeuttaa entisestään lähteiden luottamuksen saamista.

Yksi merkittävä seikka on myös, että mediatalot ostavat usein reportaaseja suoraan freelancereilta sen sijaan, että lähettäisivät konfliktialueelle omia työntekijöitään. Tilanne on freelance-toimittajan kannalta epävarma ja vaarallinen. Ironista kyllä, konfliktin osapuolten edustajat kohtelevat suurille mediataloille työskenteleviä journalisteja kunnioittavammin kuin freelance-journalisteja, jotka ovat haavoittuvammassa asemassa. Yksi tärkeä kysymys on, miten näitä turvallisuuden ja luotettavuuden haasteita voidaan kohdata nykyistä paremmin.

‘’Eurooppalainen kriisi’’

Felmin teettämästä raportista ilmenee, että Syyrian konfliktin uutisointi keskittyy suurelta osin terrorismiin ja konflikteihin, haastateltavien ollessa lähes yksinomaan miehiä. Rauhanneuvotteluille ja humanitaarisen avulle, samoin kuin naisille ja lapsille, annetaan raporteissa huomattavasti vähemmän tilaa. Tämä ei luonnollisesti heijastele todellisuutta. Sanomalehdillä on taipumus käsitellä Syyrian konfliktia eurosentrisestä näkökulmasta, kuvaten konfliktia Eurooppaa uhkaavana kriisinä. ‘’Pakolaiskriisi’’ nähdään samaan tapaan uhkana rauhanomaiselle eurooppalaiselle yhteisölle kuin talouskriisi. Seurauksena on humanitaarisen näkökulman unohtuminen, jolloin hädänalaisessa asemassa olevat ihmiset näyttäytyvät kasvottomana massana, joita ei voi kuvitella osaksi median kuluttajien rauhanomaisia yhteiskuntia.

Medialla on huomattava vaikutus yleiseen mielipiteeseen ja yhteiskunnalliseen keskusteluun, mikä korostaa toimittajien vastuuta. Miten raportointitapoja voisi viedä humaanimpaan suuntaan ja lähemmäs todellisuutta?

Syyrialaisia journalisteja harvoin palkataan tai konsultoidaan Syyrian sodasta raportoitaessa, mikä puolestaan vahvistaa eurosentristä tai läntistä näkökulmaa tapahtumiin. Paikalliset toimittajat kohtaavat paljon ennakkoluuloja, sillä heidän oletetaan toistavan konfliktin eri osapuolten propagandaa. Paikalliset toimittajat ymmärtävät kuitenkin paremmin paikallista kulttuuria ja konfliktista kärsivien ihmisten kokemuksia. Miten voisimme ottaa paikalliset toimittajat paremmin huomioon ja osallistaa heidät raportointiin omasta maastaan?

Median eettisyys on kohdannut haasteita Syyria-raportoinnissa. Perinteiset eettiset normit ja moraalisen käytänteet on usein unohdettu, mikä puolestaan heijastaa uudenlaista avoimuutta ja suoruutta, jonka yksi seuraus on sosiaalisen median vihapuhe. Miten voidaan varmistaa, että journalismin eettisiä standardeja noudatetaan?

Työpajassa syntyneitä ratkaisuehdotuksia

Brysselin työpajan keskusteluista nousi esiin muutamia ehdotuksia edellä esitettyjen kysymysten jatkokehittelyä varten.

Ensinnäkin toimittajien välinen solidaarisuus on elintärkeä osa toimittajien keskinäistä ymmärrystä ja ammatillista yhteistyötä. Solidaarisuus tarkoittaa tässä yhteydessä turvallisuudesta huolehtimista  ja lisääntynyttä avoimuutta, mitkä puolestaan parantavat raportoinnin laatua ja kattavuutta. Yhteistyö madaltaa myös kynnystä työskennellä paikallisten toimittajien kanssa. Toimittajien välisen, laajapohjaisen yhteistyön kehittäminen vaatisi yhteistyötä myös kansalaisjärjestöjen kanssa.

Toiseksi toimitusten tulisi keskittyä selkeämmin eettisen näkökulman esiintuomiseen. Journalismin eettisiä ohjeita on tarjolla runsaasti. Ongelma on, että raportoinnissa nämä ohjeet usein sivuutetaan, kuten käy ilmi myös työpajassa käsitellyistä raporteista. Raportointiprosessi tulisi tehdä läpinäkyväksi, mikä mahdollistaisi keskustelun myös eettisyydestä. Avoin seuranta- ja arviointiprosessi voisi kannustaa journalismin eettisten ohjeiden tarkempaan noudattamiseen. Tavoitteena tulisi olla uudenlaisen kriisiraportoinnin mallin luominen.

Lopuksi työpajassa tultiin siihen tulokseen, että mediakasvatuksen ja medialukutaidon kehittämiseen pitäisi keskittyä enemmän jo peruskoulutuksessa. Tämä on viime kädessä kiinni myös yhteiskunnallisista päättäjistä, joilla on mahdollisuus vaikuttaa valtakunnallisiin opetussuunnitelmiin sekä peruskoulu- että korkea-asteella. Vaikka tavoitteena on, että toimittajat sisäistävät laajasti  journalismin eettiset ohjeet, ei voida olettaa että kaikki saavat niihin tarpeeksi perehdytystä. Ammatillinen yhteistyö rakentuu nopeasti, mutta on otettava vastuuta myös siitä, että ihmiset oppivat tarkastelemaan mediaa kriittisesti.

 

Emma Mether, harjoittelija, Suomen Benelux-instituutti

Johanna Sumuvuori, yhteiskuntaohjelman päällikkö, Suomen Lontoon instituutti 

 

REDISCOVERING NATIONAL IDENTITY

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This text is a translation. Not only is it translated from my mother tongue, Finnish, but it is also a translation of images into words. Before words became images, they were purely ideas. Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921) thought that some things can only be expressed in non-verbal ways and claimed that thoughts and propositions are pictures. Our thinking is constantly being limited by language, as we can only speak of what we have words for. Language was invented for the purpose of human beings to be able to communicate with one another efficiently, but it also ties us to a certain culture, as we do not all share the same language. As eyes are physical extensions of our brain, I believe that seeing is a purer form of understanding.


Making art is making sense of the world. It’s the philosophy of seeing. Art can challenge the basic assumptions of our society by reacting politically and aesthetically against these norms. As the only knowledge we can perceive, comes from within, an artist can only show what to look at, not what to see. As an artist, I want to show the spectator something about the world, so that they will see it slightly differently.

“Perspective makes the single eye the centre of the visible world. Everything converges on to the eye as to the vanishing point of infinity. The visible world is arranged for the spectator as the universe was once thought to be arranged for god. There is no need for god to situate himself in relation to others: he is himself the situation.” John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1972

The word perspective comes from the Latin word perspectiva that translates to “seeing through; seeing precisely; or understanding clearly”. It is a point of view that derives always by the individual. It is not merely a physical body that sees, but the perspective is all of what one sees through with. According to this idea the perspective is ultimately the identity. The identity is a construction of how we see ourselves, how others perceive us, what we dream of and how we live our lives. Life is like a stage, where our identities are roles that we are assigned to play out.

The individualistic postmodern generation likes to think of themselves (=ourselves) as individuals who themselves create and produce the identity they choose to. Still we are torn between wanting to belong, and wishing to be one-of-a-kind. This could be caused by the inherited and adopted identity that is formed according to how and where we were raised.

Finnish national identity was recreated (or branded) in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by painting a picture of a raw beautiful nature and it’s hardworking, humble people. Artists started to portray the beauty and uniqueness of their homeland. This was called the golden era of Finnish art and was closely related to the oppression and national awakening. It also started the quest for the original and true national landscape that would encapsulate the particularities of Finland. The Finnish National epic, Kalevala (compiled by Elias Lönnrot, 1835) also played an important role in the development of Finnish national identity, affirming the Finnish language strife that culminated to the independence from Russia 100 years ago. These national romantic images, folklore and mythology are nested into the Finnish consciousness, and no matter how far we go, they will follow.

When I would look at a foreign landscape, I’d inevitable see it through the one I know. I was reluctant to admit how much my national herstory and heritage affected my everyday life and my artistic practice. The ultimate goal in life and art is to find some kind of a truth, so I felt obliged to address my finnishness. The only way to self-discovery and critical thinking is in re-evaluation, redefinition and acceptance. Defying pre-existing normative roles, is discovering them within yourself and bending them…. and making art about it.

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Anikó Kuikka is an artist working with moving image installation. She is currently finishing her post graduate diploma at the Royal Academy of Arts and holds a Masters degree in fine arts from the time and space department at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki. Anikó’s works depict the psychologically surreal and absurd nature of life and the construct of reality and illusion. She deals with identity, archetypes, the social power structures as well as the position of the viewer. The aesthetics and themes are often inspired by the domestic and mythological. Anikó’s moving image work has been shown and screened nationally and internationally in art exhibitions, screenings and film festivals. Her diploma piece ‘White Sugar’ will be shown at the RA Schools Show 22nd June – 2nd July 2017.

Equity and Justice in the Energy System – The Case of Fuel Poverty in the UK

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We are again getting to the time of the year when the days are getting shorter and the nights colder. Many of us are turning  our heating on, without having to think too much about it. However, many others are in a situation where they cannot afford heating in their homes and this time of year can have dire consequences on their health and wellbeing. We at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, together with South East London Community Energy, a community group developing sustainable energy projects, have been researching community-led initiatives that address fuel poverty.

An estimated 2.35 million households in England alone live in fuel poverty whereby they need to use more than 10-15% of their income to heat their homes and use other key energy services such as cooking and washing clothes. Fuel poverty is usually attributed to three key factors: the level of household income, the quality of housing in terms of energy efficiency and the cost of energy bills. Even though the UK does not have the highest gas and electricity prices in Europe, our housing stock is one of the poorest regarding energy efficiency. For example, many houses have bad quality insulation – or none at all – and lack purposeful heating arrangements. This also has implications on climate change. The UK’s 27 million existing homes account for around 25% of our greenhouse gas emissions.

Fuel poverty is a complex issue as those living in fuel poverty are not always easy to identify, and there can be a stigma attached to being fuel poor, preventing people from seeking help. Fuel poverty does not just mean being cold in your home, but the associated problems of cold and damp homes can also have severe health implications. The fuel poverty charity National Energy Action has estimated that fuel poverty is costing the NHS around £1.36 billion a year, as those who live in fuel poverty are more likely to need additional doctor’s appointments for issues such as respiratory diseases and mental health including anxiety and depression. Already vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and the disabled can be especially affected by the consequences of fuel poverty. Furthermore, some of these consequences can be fatal. Each winter people die of illnesses related to fuel poverty, for instance during 2014-2015, England and Wales had the highest number of ‘excess winter deaths’, with 43,900 people dying – 27% more than during the non-winter months.

Numerous government programmes have addressed fuel poverty over the years, including programmes such as the Warm Front which ran from 2000-2013, subsidies such as the Warm Homes Discount, an annual payment of £140 towards energy bills, and the Winter Fuel Payment aimed at pensioners. Energy supplier obligations such as the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) have targeted energy efficiency measures to vulnerable customers. However, energy utilities might not be best placed to deal with fuel poverty, especially given all the other social and health issues linked to the problem. Despite government pledges to eradicate fuel poverty, the problem persists. One effective solution would be to upgrade the UK’s poor quality housing stock, but with limited policy support, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

While government support for addressing fuel poverty has not eradicated the problem, an increasing number of community groups have started to address the issue. Our research, funded by the Chesshire Lehmann Fund, focused on ‘energy cafés’, an energy advice service run by community groups to help those living in fuel poverty. A number of community energy groups across the UK have hosted energy cafés or energy shops, which have been held in a number of locations such as high street shops, farmers markets and community cafés. Some of these energy cafés are permanent, whilst the majority operate for a short period of time in a pop-up shop style. Our research findings indicate that energy cafés could provide a key service in identifying those people that may need help also beyond their energy bills. In other words, energy cafés could act as a triage service bringing together local authorities, health workers and community organisations. Many of this work relies on limited funding via grants and volunteer time, both of which can be in short supply, but are often inspired by genuine desire to help those in need.

Fuel poverty kills and it is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed as an energy, social and health issue, and at all levels of government, local authorities and health authorities. It also has wider energy justice implications in terms of how we consider equity within our energy system. We need to ask ourselves what type of a society we live in – and if our homes, usually a source of comfort, are allowed to keep having fatal consequences.

 

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Dr Mari Martiskainen is a Research Fellow at the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand based at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex. Mari is a social scientist who has worked on a range of energy research projects including topics such as building energy efficiency policies, innovation processes linked to community energy, influences on household energy consumption and the diffusion of small scale renewable energy technologies.

Artists are the Missing Link in Community Planning

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“Artists are at the heart of London’s creative success and the centre of many of our thriving communities. Only by incorporating artists’ workspace in strategic planning for the city, will we maintain our competitiveness and achieve the Mayor’s ambition of becoming an international “capital of content.” Mayor of London, “Creating Artists’ Workspace” (2015)

I moved to London three years ago. Three years ago I also found Hackney Wick; an artist-built warehouse zone in East London.

When I walked into the first live-work space in a converted warehouse, I knew I had found something exceptional. Seeing the wonky, self-built units, large communal work areas and industrial yard where all the neighbours were sharing a meal together outside, I said aloud “I’m going to move here.”

Now this community, known as the densest concentration of artists in Europe, is under threat of demolition. Bulldozers are replacing artist studios and cafés have signs stating “Development of luxury apartments.”

I’m one of the campaigners of Save Hackney Wick, because I want to ensure that the current developments take into consideration the existing community: local businesses, residents, artists, families and youth.

Why should anyone care where the artists go?

London, as it stands, is in crisis. According to a Just Space study, Towards a Community-Led Plan in London (2016), London has the lowest levels of well-being and life satisfaction on record, and the highest levels of income inequality – only to name a few of the city’s socio-economic crises.

London has been known as Europe’s “capital of culture” for years, with over 35,000 people graduating from Art and Design colleges every year. According to the Mayor’s Creating Artists’ Workspace (2014) case study, culture is a key driver for London’s economy, attracting tourists and contributing £21 billion to the city’s economy. According to the same study, at least 3,500 artists are to lose their studios in the next five years. Around 600 of them are based in Hackney Wick.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, is now to amend the London Plan. He has promised to celebrate London’s vibrant culture scene and to make the capital greener, healthier – and he has vowed to offer more affordable housing and highlight the positive impact of community planning development.

Save Hackney Wick is, at least in theory, in the core of Khan’s plan. The area could become a flagship example of cultural, social and community planning in London, where taxpayers’ money would go back into the community. Hopefully it’s not only wishful thinking.  

Recently, Khan released his new vision of London, which underlines the importance of creative workforce and artist spaces to London’s future:

“My plan for Creative Enterprise Zones is designed specifically to assist the artists and creative workers who may otherwise struggle to work in London, and I also want to explore innovative financial models to support small creative businesses.”

Positive regeneration?

Rapid urban changes are a threat to diverse, multi-ethnic communities and the independent art scene — qualities for which London has been known and celebrated for centuries. These are the same qualities why I, as a Finnish artist, fell in love with the city, and decided to make a life here three years ago.

This is a part of a global issue that follows the simple cycle of gentrification: first arrive the artists, then come the developers. As soon as the artists have made the area “attractive,” rents will rise and the artists will be pushed out, along with the pre-existing community. The same “hipster-led gentrification” has happened in Kreuzberg in Berlin, Williamsburg in New York and Shoreditch in London.

But could this be stopped? Could we say “no” to the constant uncertainty and “no” to the luxury development that is only affordable for investors? I’m not against regeneration, as that is the nature of cities, but these developments should value existing, vibrant communities.

Without independent culture and artists’ work spaces for artists to work, cities will become only fragile eggshells without content. London will lose its soul.

But instead of demolishing these existing communities, homes and cultural hubs, we could integrate artists as part of community development, thus strengthening the neighborhood’s well-being.

The cycle could be stopped — or even used as a positive recycle model.

Instead of treating artists as disposable waste, artists could be “problem solvers” as well as links between cities, people and communities. We should connect the dots together.

Now is the time to act.

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Sara Kärpänen is a freelance writer and artist based in London. She has a Master’s degree in Visual Culture and Art in Public Space from Aalto University, Finland. Sara has worked as a journalist, researcher and curator, and collaborated with international street artists and architect practices. Currently Sara works as an editor for the online publication Elephant Journal and writes for the Finnish culture-jamming blog Häiriköt. Sara has taken part in international festivals and seminars (Hackney WickED London, Summer School Thinking City Amsterdam, Spaces of Commoning Vienna, Culture Jam Round I, London) and exhibited both in group and solo exhibitions in Finland, London and Portugal.

Sara wants to create more community-driven urban spaces and to explore art as a tool with which to engage communities. Connect with Sara on her website www.sara-karpanen.com and Twitter.

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