The topic most associated with that of 'immigration' in the articles and informative pieces produced by the Finnish media is 'crime'.
This is explained by the Ministry of Interior in its annual study 'International Migration 2018-2019 - Report for Finland', commissioned by OECD. In its final chapter, the report explains that keywords related to immigration combined with crime and offences with all possible attributes -including sexual offences- were the most discussed in Finnish media between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019.
Between those two dates, A total of 9,992 articles on immigration were published in the monitored media, among which included those with the largest circulation and audience nationwide, such as the Yle television network and newspapers Helsingin Sanomat, Keskisuomalainen, Kaleva, Turun Sanomat or Aamulehti.
The conclusion of the document sent to the OECD by the Ministry of Interior is categorical: "Immigration and crime were discussed more often than other topics, as crime was referred to in 1,934 articles during the period under scrutiny."
Sexual offences in Oulu
The report explains that within the theme of crime, particularly the sexual offences committed in Oulu against minors received a great deal of media attention. President Trump was mentioned in other 1,217 articles in the context of immigration. The third largest theme discussed was the Finnish parliamentary elections, cited in 948 articles in connection with immigration topics.In the case of Oulu, which shocked the entire country, the authorities found out that the perpetrators of the abuses were men who came to Finland as asylum seekers, some of whom had already been granted Finnish citizenship.
These crimes caused a wave of rejection towards immigrants, in some cases encouraged by anti-immigration political groups such as the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) and in other cases by openly racist groups, such as the Soldiers of Odin, who even published a xenophobic video announcing a 'hunt' of rapists.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, Oulu was referred to in 30% of all articles discussing immigration and crime (577 articles), and Oulu and offences were mentioned in 5% of all articles published about immigration. The highest number of articles (138) relating to Oulu, immigration and crime was published in Kaleva (newspaper from Oulu).
Assaults and other offences
Immigrants and offences also came up in the context of the trial of journalist Johanna Vehkoo as Junes Lokka, a local councilor in Oulu, accused her of defamation. Vehkoo had called Lokka a racist and a Nazi in a Facebook post.
Of other themes related to offences and immigrants, the media brought up assaults on bus drivers, one of which occurred in Loimaa and another in Uurainen, by men who had been refused asylum. According to the police, these incidents were not connected, the perpetrators did not know each other, and there were no indications of terrorism.
Immigrants and offences were also linked to measurements of political support, and they were seen to have influenced the increase in support for the Perussuomalaiset, the report says.
Finnish media also referred massively to the US President Donald Trump in connection to immigration in 1,217 articles. The greatest spike in Trump's visibility was associated with the mid-term elections in the United States in November 2018.
In summer 2018, President Trump met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. Prior to the meeting, the media speculated on the topics to be brought up. After the meeting, the media rehashed its topics, in which refugees came up due to the humanitarian crisis and refugee situation in Syria.
Towards the end of the period under scrutiny in May 2019, President Trump made headlines once more in the context of Latin American migrants attempting to enter the United States.
A key theme in the elections
According to the report, keywords related to the parliamentary elections and immigration came up in 948 articles during the period under scrutiny.
The coverage of immigration and the parliamentary elections was the most extensive in Helsingin Sanomat, which published 195 articles on this theme, followed by Yle with 161 articles. The greatest spikes in visibility were associated with analyses of the election results and anticipation of government formation negotiations.
At the time of the general election in Sweden, Finnish journalists speculated on whether or not its results would have an impact on the Finnish elections.
The Perussuomalaiset, in particular, rejoiced in the success achieved by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, and believed it would be reflected on their support in the Finnish parliamentary elections. Immigration was mainly discussed at a general level before the elections, referring to it as one of the key themes.
After the elections, the foremost topic was the backgrounds of the persons elected to Parliament, and the candidates’ views of immigration were aired in the articles in this context.
In connection with the government formation negotiations, immigration was mainly mentioned as an issue important for the True Finns. Immigration was referred to in 241 articles after the elections, between 14 April and 30 June. It was mentioned as an area in which the Perussuomalaiset demanded a stricter policy.
*The whole document 'International Migration 2018-2019 - Report for Finland' from the Government to the OECD can be found HERE