Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) has firmly denied seeking to suppress coverage of allegations against him or his family but admitted that his response had been emotional.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) has firmly denied seeking to suppress coverage of allegations against him or his family but admitted that his response to the allegations had been emotional.

Two journalists have announced their resignations from YLE.

Jussi Eronen, a senior editor for current affairs and features, announced yesterday morning that he will resign from the public broadcasting company due to a difference of opinion between himself and Atte Jääskeläinen, the senior editor-in-chief at YLE, on freedom of speech and the responsibilities of YLE.

“I and my team have been asked to cut back on exposé journalism to address malpractice and transgressions. I cannot agree to this. The public has the right to know what is going on in the country under the first section of journalists' guidelines,” he wrote on Facebook.

Eronen specified in an interview with Uusi Suomi that he had been repeatedly asked to cut back on coverage of transgressions related to certain companies in Kainuu and to instead focus on reporting on the national or world economy.

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- Andersson: PM doesn't understand that it's his responsibility to dispel suspicions (02 December, 2016)

- Sipilä denies claims he tried to suppress coverage of allegations against his family (01 December, 2016)

“I've been asked to do so repeatedly,” he stated.

Such orders, he revealed, were given especially whenever a journalist was working on a critical story about an influential policy-maker.

“A critical examination of the powers to be should be one of the key responsibilities of YLE, but under the personal control of the editor-in-chief the editorial team is treating policy-makers – particularly the Prime Minister – with extreme caution,” he wrote on Facebook. “The more important the policy-maker, the more closely YLE should be looking into them.”

Jääskeläinen commented on the resignation briefly on the website of YLE on Wednesday. Eronen, he said, seems to have been unable to accept the journalistic principles and values of the public broadcasting company.

“YLE has produced high-quality investigative journalism for years and will continue to do so in the future,” he affirmed. “Due diligence and the accuracy of claims are crucial for investigative journalism. Such attentiveness does not restrict the freedom of speech.”

Salla Vuorikoski, the other journalist who announced her resignation yesterday, cited similar reasons for her decision. “YLE has to solve fundamental problems. They deal with the core of journalism: independence and the realisation of the rights of the public – the funders of YLE,” she explained on Facebook.

YLE was engulfed in a freedom of press row late last month after publishing a report about a possible conflict of interest arising from a contract awarded by Terrafame, a state-owned mining company, to Katera Steel, an engineering company owned by the relatives of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).

Terrafame operates a mine in Sotkamo, Kainuu.

Sipilä expressed his displeasure with the report in both his personal blog and more than a dozen e-mails sent to Jääskeläinen and Vuorikoski, the author of the report. He estimated, for example, that he had not been offered a fair chance to comment on the report and declared, infamously, that he no longer had any respect for YLE.

He later admitted that his response to the allegations had been emotional.

YLE's coverage of the issue was subsequently toned down upon a decision by Jääskeläinen. The decision to do so, he explained, was made to ensure the issue was not blown out of proportion, not because of any alleged pressure from Sipilä.

Eight senior editors for the public broadcaster have since voiced their full confidence in Jääskeläinen.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi