111th operating year of the Finnish Newspapers Association – 2019
“The association pursues strategic issues more visibly and with better anticipation”
The Finnish Newspapers Association is more reliable and professional than ever and its efforts to represent the interests of its members are greater than ever. This is how member organisation representatives viewed the association in a member survey in autumn 2019.
In particular, the comments showed that the association’s quality of interest representation had improved. Interest representation was one of the two priorities for the operating year. The other priority was the improvement of the member organisations’ change capability.
Members also estimated the quality of the brand perception surveys and the level of monitoring and reporting the trends of the industry to be better than before. These were included in the strategic goals of the association.
The election year was present in the association’s activities in various ways. Together with Finnmedia, the association began active influencing work for the Government Programme during the previous year. One of the main responsibilities of the Finnish Newspapers Association was interest representation of distribution. The problems of newspaper distribution – high price, low quality and poor availability – and the association’s distribution reform model that ensures distribution services to everyone were highlighted in all forms of the influencing work conducted by the association.
The goal of lowering the value added tax rate of digital publications to the level of printed newspapers, long pursued by the association, was finally achieved in early July.
The role of journalism was highlighted in many ways. As a consequence of international election interference allegations, the efforts of external parties to influence the results of the Finnish parliamentary and the EU Parliament elections in the spring generated a large degree of interest. The Finnish Newspapers Association studied the views of the Finnish people on these efforts and their primary sources of information in selecting who they were going to vote for.
Influencing was also a major aspect of the association’s media education efforts. According to a study on middle school pupils (grades 7–9), young people would like to have their voices heard more clearly in national policymaking processes and the media. The study indicates that social media provides the easiest way for young people to have an influence.
One of the most important roles of the association is to monitor the trends of the industry and raise awareness of these trends. The association’s website was revamped in early 2019, allowing for more efficient dissemination of information. The Suomen Lehdistö journal also continues to play an important role in providing information about the industry.
First and foremost, the activities of the association consist of cooperation with member organisations. The information and feedback provided by companies are vitally important in how the association plans and carries out its operations. The efforts of the Board of Directors, strategic groups and the members of different divisions in advancing the interests of the industry are invaluable.
Marketing and research
The association reinforced the role of the press as a developer of society and a reliable source of information by providing its member companies with marketing material. The themes of this material included the differences between facts and opinions, personal responsibility over word choice and how to understand differing opinions.
The association conducted studies and collected information to support the future of the industry and to improve its competitiveness. As in previous years, the use of news media, changes in attitudes and views of different media outlets among Finnish people, the importance of newspapers, the preferred mode of advertising and the views on the industry’s prospects of the employees of the member organisations were also monitored in 2019.
The studies show that digital newspapers are the primary news source for young adults, newspapers are the most important media in terms of general knowledge, confidence in Finnish suppliers has grown significantly and that newspapers are considered to be the most responsible media outlets.
The association’s media education activities focused on encouraging children and young people to participate and influence, studying the views of teachers in basic education and providing the teachers with media education training in cooperation with member newspapers.
Due to the elections in the spring, the theme of the Newspaper Week was influencing, and the policy-changers were granted access to a variety of information and tools. According to a study on teachers in basic education, almost all teachers consider media education to be important and the vast majority believes that its significance and demand have increased.
The literacy and social inclusion of young people was supported in a joint Kunnioitamme nuorta lukijaa (Respect young readers) campaign between the media and marketing industries that challenged media outlets to consider the needs and demands of young people better than before. On the UN International Literacy Day, the association participated in the Read Hour campaign for the first time and arranged a campaign for its member newspapers that highlighted the importance of current affairs.
Free and local newspapers
The activities of free and local newspaper divisions focused on solving the challenges faced by member newspapers. The most significant challenges included delivery costs, the decline of media sales in printed newspapers, the lack of ideas to create new flows of income and the quality of delivery services.
At the end of the year, the postal strike forced local newspapers to make the digital versions of their newspapers available to everyone. The situation gave rise to the Pureudu paikallisiin (Learn about locals) campaign, which included more than 100 local newspapers all around Finland. The campaign succeeded in attracting the people of Finland to browse the digital versions of the newspapers.
As usual, the rewards for the best free newspapers were awarded in the autumn’s Suuret Lehtipäivät event. A total of 119 newspapers, 55 articles and 49 online services, took part in the quality competitions.
Suomen Lehdistö, the media industry’s periodical, monitored and predicted the trends of the industry in eight printed issues and also online. June’s special issue Tilastot & tarinat (Statistics & Stories) provided an annual insight on the development of the revenue of the press. In addition to the printed and subscribed periodical, two free-of-charge newsletters were published in order to expand the readership of the journal. At the end of the year, Suomen Lehdistö began to plan reforms in order to reach a wider audience.
The Finnish Newspapers Association participated actively in representing the interests of Nordic, European and global newspaper publishers in cooperation with other organisations in the industry. The European Union legislation was influenced through the Brussels-based News Media Europe (NME), freedom of speech and the business activities of the news media were defended and supported through the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and freedom of speech was supported in the Finnish group of the International Press Institute (IPI).
The Nordic Newspaper Publishers’ Joint Board (Nordiska Tidningsutgivarnas Samarbetsnämnd, NTS) celebrated its 100th anniversary. The anniversary meeting was held in Oslo, Norway in August.