Finland was portrayed largely in a positive light in foreign media in 2016, indicates a survey conducted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.


Finland’s education system, basic income experiment, appeal as a travel destination and possible membership in Nato were the most dominant themes in global media reports about the country in 2016, finds a survey conducted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The reports portrayed the country largely in a favourable light, at times as an example to be followed.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ annual survey is based on diplomatic missions’ assessments of the content and tone of media reports covering Finland. Last year, 74 of the country’s 89 missions abroad responded to the survey.

“The survey offers interesting comparative data on the views and priorities of the media, highlighting the wide range of issues affected by the country image, starting with editorial choices,” says Petra Theman, the head of public diplomacy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Finland’s overall media score crept up by 0.14 points from the previous year to 3.88 on a scale of 1–5, according to the survey.

Last year, the media attention garnered by country increased in a total of 18 countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Chile, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden and Tunisia.

Finland’s education system remained the most prominent theme in global media reports, although the reports were no longer as positive as they have been in previous years due to, for example, the drop in the country’s scores in the 2016 PISA. Finland was nevertheless regularly referred to as a country where education has been organised excellently.

Another prominent feature of the media reports was the basic income experiment launched in Finland in 2017, with some media reports describing the country as a pioneer and bold experimenter. The Embassy of Finland in Brussels, for example, revealed that the experiment has garnered considerable media attention ever since it was first announced and even resulted in contacts from ordinary citizens interested in re-locating to Finland.

Finland managed to shed some of its image as an economic laggard – despite continuing to receive negative media attention in certain countries, namely in Europe – and sustain its reputation as a high technology powerhouse due to the media interest generated by the likes of Nokia, Rovio and Slush.

The country also received extensive attention in travel and tourism-related reports, not least due to the efforts of Helsinki, Lapland and Visit Finland, estimates the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. A new feature of the reports was the resurgent public sauna culture in Helsinki, with CNN, for example, writing about the variety of public saunas found in the Finnish capital.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva