When Bad Journalism Goes Worse
It seems that the boundary of good practice of journalism in Finland is set somewhere a little above publishing images of national heroes. The sleaze magazine Seitsemän Päivää scored a new low and published several years old photos of Tomi Putaansuu, vocalist of the Eurovision Song Contest winner Lordi, on the cover of the newest issue, against pleas he has made on several occassions. This probably is nothing new to anyone residing in Finland with access to any media outlet.
Hämeen Sanomat, a regional newspaper also published a nonmasked image of band members. As far as I understood, this was in reference to a foreign magazine.
Both of the magazines are currently under extremely heavy criticism and are target of an (apparently) spontaneous grassroot movement. Boycott and petition sites have emerged and they are having loads of visitors. It appears these have been authored by rather young people, which just validates the greatness of Internet publishing.
Even though I really don't care about the Putaansuu Disclosure, I'm extremely delighted.
Although the criticism started with an irrelevant issue, it seems to have set ablaze a previously unknown wildfire of extreme dislike, even loathing, against the lowest representatives of the yellow press and their way of violating the privacy of famous persons (and it really does not take much here to be "famous" enough to appear in Seiska). It is very positive, no matter what is the reason and reasoning of each participant, that people for once are reacting to what they deem unethical journalism.
Quite a few commentors draw parallels between this and the Prophet Mohammed cartoons. It appears to me, that there indeed are some similarities in these occassions. What makes them completely different, though, is that in this case, I have not seen any comments that state that Seiska did not have the right to publish the images. This is very fortunate, since it would be disastrous if people were campaigning for limitations to the freedom of speech to ensure the privacy of their idols. It would yield loads of collerateral damage. Seiska did have the right to publish the image. And still does. And this is just the way I like it to be.
Completely another issue, apart from the right to publish something, is whether the action are ethical, necessary or smart. Rumor has it there has been thousands of cancelled orders during the first day of the outrage and at least a few (probably small) markets have removed Seiska from their selection of magazines. The petitions have collected over a hundred thousand names and about every forum is dissing the publisher of the magazines. From outside point of view it appears that no, it was not very smart to publish the image.
The outrage seems to maintain it's focus quite unprecedentedly. It would be easy to stray to irrelevancies, but the rather uncoordinated campaign is about despicable journalism more than Lordi, although the latter started the whole thing.
I do not appreciate sleaze magazines very high (as can probably be read from the selection of words I use to describe them) so I am happily participating in the boycott. I would advise everyone to, of course in addition to cancelling their subscriptions, contact the companies that advertise in magazines published by Aller and tell them what they think of the media of their selection. Also, if the shop you purchase daily goods from carries the magazines, tell the manager that if a market in the neighbourhood should remove magazines of Aller from their selection, you would do your business there.