Wednesday, February 18, 2009


As a preparation for a future work assignment, I am paying rather close attention at the moment on journalism around immigration. It is in general quite positive that at least in this country the quality media has realised that they need broader coverage over the subject to help people understand the reasons and consequences.

However, one seems to stumble at times. In yesterday´s Helsingin Sanomat journalist Riitta Vainio wrote a 3/4-page article with the title:
"Family culture amongst immigrants changes often painfully - Immigrant man seeks often for a good wife from the country of origin." Vainio´s article was published in the domestic news section but closer inspection shows that there is actually very little news or factual information in the article. The article´s references to its rather generalising statements are vague to say the least. Here are some examples:
"According to some local policemen a big portion of home alerts comes from immigrant families."
"In some families penalties to children are still accepted although they are known to be illegal."
"The portion of single parents amongst Somalis may be partly due to polygamy but there is no research."
"Child protection cases occur also in immigrant families."

There are only two quotes from experts in the article. Most of the article works on generalisations such as "the Russian-speaking", "the Somalians", "many" and "some". The article ends with the other expert quote being:
"Researcher Minna Säävälä from Väestöliitto emphasises that for a large majority of immigrants family is a resource, not the source of problems."

If I may, quite bizarre and somewhat sloppy journalism from a paper usually living up to high journalistic standards.

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