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Big changes for the flagship newspaper of Finland

January 3, 2013

A media era is soon coming to an end.

How many of you out there who have been to Finland or now live in Finland noted the large sized newspapers? They’re so big that when you open them that they can take up an entire table top! The daily Helsingin Sanomat is one of these papers. On January 8 it will appear in a new tabloid-sized format.

The Mr. is not amused. (He kindly agreed to appear in this entry, to illustrate the size difference we’re about to be subjected to. The picture isn’t the greatest, but maybe you can get the idea.)

WP_000721

The Sunday edition of HS is already pretty big, so how thick will it be when on Sundays in a tabloid format? It might not even fit through the slot in our mailbox! This remains to be seen – and I will be sure to follow up on that here.

Helsingin Sanomat introduced some big changes last fall, including the abrupt shutdown of their English language service, which had been in operation since Finland’s 1999 EU presidency. Unfortunately HS didn’t seem to understand the importance of the service. Thousands of people depended on HS International for news from a Finnish point of view. But since it was not taking in any revenue (there were no ads on the HS International site), it was apparently deemed dispensable. The outrage was immediate. Former HS International Editor, William Moore, said that he had even received messages from foreign diplomats expressing their extreme displeasure.

Apparently to no avail.

HS says they will be looking into alternatives for its English language publications, but I think what that really means is that we will not be seeing any renewal of HS International any time in the near future.

I was one of the outraged readers who wrote to communicate my anger at what was for me, the main source of news in Finland. I want Finnish news (in English) written by Finnish journalists, not Finnish news written by expats and immigrants – they don’t know Finland like Finnish journalists do. That is what differentiated HS International from the other news sources in English in this country. Of course I could go to Finnish language sites and attempt to read very bad translations with Google Translate, but it just isn’t the same. A door has been shut to a news world I had come to enjoy very much.

HS will also be put behind a pay wall. Readers will be able to read a selection of articles for free in a prescribed period of time, but after that readers will have to get a subscription to access more content, or wait for a new period to roll over.

Change is in the air…

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    January 3, 2013 6:54 pm

    Well, to be fair, they’ve been slimming down the paper since the 90s, so it sort of makes sense to scale back the apper size although that is not the real reason. Of course the gradual slimming down of content doesn’t make anyone want to pay for the paper. Shallow reporting and fluff is available on the internet for free.
    This is the problem with having for-profit newspapers.

  2. January 4, 2013 12:15 pm

    Anonymous, if you’re out there, could you please post your comment again – I deleted it by accident! You haven’t commented for awhile so it went to the Spam box first!

  3. CounterSpace permalink
    April 16, 2013 4:40 pm

    I’m late to the fracas but I need to air my grief at losing a very important source of real information on what is going on in Finland with the loss of the International edition of HS. Where are the people who did these stories? Would they be willing to work a new site into the desert of Finnish news? Where else can one find information on current issues in Finland that aren’t insultingly bereft of information?

    Closing HS International is another example of the Finnish habit of deciding what is best for others no matter how terrible the damage inflicted. There wasn’t even a token attempt to see if people would pay extra to keep the international, English, side of things up.

    • April 18, 2013 10:56 am

      CounterSpace, thanks for weighing in. Have you expressed your displeasure to HS? Maybe it is time to bring this issue up with them again. I do know that the former editor of HS International was retiring late last year and that at least one of the translators was a freelancer. We never really got to know who the staff of HS International was – it’s pity that it had to be such a mystery.

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