Almost all European countries have a media council similar to the CMM. However, Finland’s CMM is considered exemplary. It is exceptionally broad, regulating almost all Finnish media: in addition to news media, it regulates women’s magazines, radio stations, children’s magazines and most political parties’ newspapers. This has ensured that the media in Finland operate freely and responsibly at the same time.
A reader of the CMM’s decisions may get the false impression that the media are especially poor and error-filled. In reality, the CMM issues very few verdicts in relation to the number of complaints. In 2016 the CMM received 468 complaints, but issued just 38 verdicts. It issued 55 acquittals. Most complaints are baseless and thus not examined by the CMM. For example, the CMM does not examine complaints that argue that opinions are factual errors.
Studies have shown that Finnish journalists are extremely committed to their ethical guidelines, and that the quality of Finnish journalism has remained exceptionally high. Mistakes happen, but in Finland the media are very conscientious about correcting them. The media outlets that have signed up to the Guidelines for Journalists do not spread fake news. At the same time, the CMM enables extensive press freedom. The principle is simple: when the media regulate themselves, the authorities and the courts do not need to intervene.
Adapted from “From scandal to another”. The exhibition of the 50th Anniversary of the Finnish Council for Mass Media.