Russian speakers in Finland as media users - media travel with immigrants

Government Communications Department
27.10.2016 9.44 | Published in English on 28.10.2016 at 11.50
Press release 459/2016

Immigrants often continue to follow the media of their country of origin. The report of the research project on Russian speakers in Finland as media users presents the first general study of the use of the media by the Russian speakers living in Finland and the Russian-speaking media landscape.

The project analysed how the Russian-speakers in Finland use the media, which of the Finnish media they follow, and where following the media leads them. The information and other content of the Finnish and Russian media were also analysed. In addition, the project examined the self-determined media activity of the Russian-speakers and other activities relating to media use.

Besides media use of the target group, the project analysed the means by which the mainstream Russian media try to influence their audience and Russian-language media content produced in Finland. In the light of interviews conducted for the project, the use of the media by the Russian-speakers is highly active and diverse. The majority of the interviewees follow both Finnish and Russian media productions. They consider that there are significant differences between the Finnish and Russian media.

- Most of them were quite sceptic about the truthfulness of the mainstream Russian media, but the Finnish media were not considered neutral actors, either. According to the image they had, the Finnish media are part of the anti-Russian western media environment. The views of how problematic this is varied among the interviewees. As summarised by the leader of the project, PhD Olga Davydova-Minguet, they saw that the way Russia is presented in the Finnish media is too negative.  

There is a lot of Russian-language media content available in Finland. Most of the content is produced outside the Finnish borders, but there are also Russian-language media productions made in Finland. A significant share of this is so-called citizen media, i.e. videos or blogs of common people or other products made possible by the social media. However, there is also professional Russian-language journalism in Finland, such as the Spektr and Venäjän kauppatie (Russian trade) magazines and the Russian-language services of Yle.   

A number of measures proposed in the project

- Publications are needed in Finland that talk about the lives, problems and achievements of the Russian speakers in a way that they can feel part of this society. As stated in its strategy, Yle should be “important on a personal level" and "reach" all Russian speakers living in Finland as well. This can be achieved by increasing Russian-language content, including talk shows with Finnish subtitles. As a general conclusion the study showed very clearly that more Russian-language news and documentaries produced in Finland are needed, Davydova-Minguet says.

Winning the trust of people who follow the mainstream Russian media is not easy. Aggressive attacks against propaganda are likely to be counter-effective because people are likely to place them in the category of information war and reject them. Discussion-based media activity where various perspectives are presented and taken into account is more credible. This may be a question of quite technical issues, such as finding out about the opportunities of Finnish TV channel operators to diversify their Russian-language content in Finland. 

The research project on Russian speakers in Finland as media users was carried out as part of the implementation of the Government's 2015 plan for analysis, assessment and research. The project was carried out by a research team at the Karelian Institute of the University of Eastern Finland. The project leader was PhD Olga Davydova-Minguet. The other members of the research team were PhD Tiina Sotkasiira, MSc Teemu Oivo, Security Specialist Janne Riiheläinen and MSc Daria Kettunen, who conducted the interviews.    

Research report on Russian speakers in Finland as media users (in Finnish)

Further information about the Government’s analysis, assessment and research at tietokayttoon.fi.

Inquiries: PhD Olga Davydova-Minguet, University of Eastern Finland, tel. + 358 50 433 3735, olga.davydova-minguet/(at)uef.fi