As we correctly predicted, interest in the youth gang story in Finland has declined in the media and social after the parliamentary election. Twenty-three days after and before the 2 April election, media coverage plummeted by 70.5 percent to 13 stories from 44, according to a Meltwater search. The most significant drop was seen on social media, which plunged 87.4 percent to 314 posts from 2,560 posts.
These figures reveal what we have always suspected: the “youth gangs” topic is a political ploy used mainly by parties like the Finns Party (PS) and spread by the police and media. Each of these interest groups has something to gain from the topic. The media gain more readers and advertisers, the police get more funds to fight crime, and politicians attract voters to the polls.
In every general election since 2011, parties like the Ps, in particular, have used the migrant crime topic to attract voters. The “youth gangs” topic dates back to the Swedish parliamentary elections, where the Sweden Democrats and Moderates successfully used the issue to defeat the Social Democrats in the election.
One of the problems with the “youth gangs” story in Finland is that the police’s estimate of 100-200 youth gang members is nowhere comparable to what is happening in Sweden, where over 60 people died last year in gang violence.
Another matter that the “youth gang problem” reveals is the prejudice of the police and the media and that they are part of the country’s racism problem.
Asmaa, a Finnish-born person of color, explained why she doesn’t read Finnish newspapers. “I feel that they are very burdensome to read. People who look like me are constantly denigrated.”
Because we believe Finland has the resources to tackle social ills like institutional racism, we should all work harder to build a more inclusive society instead of one divided by “us” and “them.”
The Media Monitoring Group of Finland is ready to work with everyone who wants to build a happier and more inclusive Finland, regardless of their background.
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*The Media Monitoring Group of Finland (MMGoF) aims to promote fair and accurate
reporting by the Finnish media of underrepresented cultural, racial, ethnic, and
religious groups. With growing cultural diversity in Finland, the media’s role in
shaping public opinion and attitudes toward minorities becomes increasingly
Read our first report on edia.coverage of youth gangs and the security guard scandal here.