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Sarkozy and the Finnish Media

by NordicStorm Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 04:21:56 AM EST

Finland is generally considered to be one of the best countries in the world when it comes to freedom of the press. (Reporters without Borders)
But ever so often, you read a head scratcher of an article that makes you wonder whether our beloved press freedom is nothing but conventional wisdom.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


Take for example this article in Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, apparently originating from Finnish news agency STT, entitled Hyper-Sarkozy seilaa yhä myötätuulessa or "Hyper-Sarkozy sails still in fair wind" (the same article is also available in Swedish in Finnish Swedish language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet), published on August 23 to coincide with Sarkozy having been president for a hundred days.
The title itself should have been a warning sign; alas, I decided to read it anyway. As I feared, it turned out to be little more than a Sarkozy press release.
It starts off bad enough (translation based on the Swedish version):

Den nye högerpresidenten har inlett sitt arbete med en otrolig energi och gett sig i kast med alla slags ämnen På köpet har han nästan kväst oppositionen och gjort presidentinstitutionen mer folknära. The new right-wing president has started his work with incredible energy and tackled all sorts of subjects. In addition he has almost put down the opposition and brought the institution of the presidency closer to the people.

Oh, goody! Sounds like a swell guy! Is this is supposed to be a serious news article or a profile on Match.com?

Om Sarkozys fartfyllda stil vittnar bland annat att han till och med tillbringade sin korta sommarsemester i USA i närheten av George W. Bushs fritidshus, och alltså hade arbetet i tankarna. Vila tycks tillsvidare inte ens finnas i Sarkozys ordförråd. A testament to Sarkozy's energetic demeanor is, among other things, the fact that he spent his short summer vacation in the United States near George W. Bush's vacation home, and thus had work in mind. Rest apparently does not even exist in Sarkozy's vocabulary thus far.

Run that by me again, would ya? How exactly is vacationing near the vacationer-in-chief, who makes Ronald Reagan look like a dedicated worker, in any sense "keeping work in mind"? And monsieur Cyprus Malta Yacht Guy doesn't know the meaning of the word "rest"? Say what?

At this point I'm beginning to wonder whether they'll mention any criticism of the Sarkozy presidency at all.
Finally, something. My faith in the Finnish media is about to be restored. Behold:
Filosofen Alain Finkielkraut säger till exempel att Sarkozy borde promenera i stället för att springa, eftersom det bättre skulle främja seriöst tänkande. Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut says for example that Sarkozy should be walking instead of running, since it would better facilitate serious thinking.

What?!? This your idea of fair and balanced? He runs too much?!? That's the worst thing that could be said about the guy?? Franklin D. Roosevelt wishes he would've gotten that sort of press!

And that's about it. A reference is made to supposed experts claiming the governmental projections for economic growth might possibly maybe be a bit too optimistic. And the constitutional council rejected a proposed tax cut. No reference to the myriad of minor and not-so-minor scandals and gaffes the Sarkozy presidency has generated in its first hundred days. Nothing, nada, zilch.

And then, to cap it all off, in the very last sentence, they go for the kill:
Han är också känd som en ivrig beskyddare av fransk industri, vilket kan ge problem i EU, som grundar sig på fri konkurrens. He's also known as an eager protector of French industry, which can cause problems in the EU, which is founded on free competition.

Gaah! That's it! He's not a free-marketer, that's the man's biggest flaw! Let me check the top of the page again...nope, it's not the Financial Times. Had me fooled there for a minute.
But isn't it a lovely narrative they're setting up: if the Sarko presidency succeeds, it's because he's a liberal reformist. If it fails, it's because he's a protectionist who didn't enact enough reforms.

Oh well, at least they didn't airbrush his love handles in the picture accompanying the article...

Display:
Gaaah!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 05:56:02 AM EST
No one is perfect! (And thanks for the great articles you have writing lately, NS!! Keep em coming!!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:07:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! The therapeutic quality of writing diaries is not to be underestimated ;)

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:18:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a small note : Sarkozy is Mr Malta Yachtman, not Cyprus yet. Maybe next year...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:19:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yeah, you're right...but didn't he go on vacation to Cyprus as well?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, no. That's where he's domiciled for tax purposes....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:03:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also: Oh, so that is what goes on in Malta!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's what makes the Maltese cross.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they're voting with their Valletta...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:56:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aaah the delights of Gozo Journalism ;-)

Hunter S. where are you?


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 08:16:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He accidentally wandered into the Texas thread, and then he decided to check out...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 08:48:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Hunter S. may have said "Death is not rocket science" ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 08:50:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I must confess to PR-exploiting the regional Finnish press myself in media, arts and culture subjects. A well written release will often go more or less straight to print in whole or in part if you hit on a lazy or hard-pressed journalist.

But they have to be written well.

Have you ever lied in marketing, Triloqvist?
No, sir. Not to my knowledge.
Have you ever been asked to gild the truth?
Yes, sir.
What did you do?
I argued for transparency as the best policy for reputation. If they didn't accept that reputation was important, I withdrew from the account.
Have you ever included negative infomation?
.....
Well?!
.....
Answer!
I have tended to accentuate the positive, sir. But I advise always that negatives should be faced head on.
And if the client does not take your advice?
I'm fucked, sir.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 08:13:52 AM EST
I don't always hold my two local newspapers in the highest regard. Sometimes it seems they're more interested in attacking each other than, I don't know, reporting news!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 08:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very similar to the BBC's coverage of the USA. Completely dominated by NYT/WaPo cw often contradicted by even a cursory knowledge of the facts.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 08:23:03 AM EST
I've found Scandinavian/Nordic media coverage of France to be a bit lacking, sadly (see someone's excellent diary on Swedish media coverage of the French presidential campaign).

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 09:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France gets greater coverage in the business press.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 10:55:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, let's face it. France is not so important, except for those of us who live here; and perhaps drinkers of good wine, eaters of fois gras, and lovers of stylish shoes; and our fast trains and airplanes.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 05:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If any others would like to add to the list, feel free to do so.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 05:17:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, programmers of Prolog.

(geek alert!)

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 05:20:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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