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Watchdog clears media over Sanna Marin party video publication

The Council for Mass Media in Finland is the body that handles complaints about Finnish journalism.

Sanna Marin.
Image: Sakari Piippo / Yle
Yle News

News outlets did not breach their ethical code when they published videos of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) partying this summer, according to an assessment by the Council for Mass Media in Finland (CMM), issued on Friday.

"There were no grounds for a negative decision in any of the complaints," said CMM Chair Eero Hyvönen at a press conference on Friday.

"There was however room for improvement in several stories. But we make decisions based on the guidance for journalists, and no grounds for a negative decision were found there."

The CMM was prompted to look into the matter after receiving around 30 complaints about the publication and coverage of the party videos. It ruled by a vote of 10 to 2 that although the videos were shot in a private setting and the published sections did include some aspects not directly linked to Marin's position as Prime Minister, publication was justified on public interest grounds. 

Videos shot by different associates of Marin were shared on social media, showing the premier dancing and partying with various public figures and celebrities. 

Soon afterwards, many media outlets across the country, including Yle, published the videos.

The newspaper Iltalehti, for example, justified publishing the footage because "the Prime Minister appearing in the videos gives them social weight."

The CMM is a self-regulating committee set up by mass media journalists and publishers as a way to interpret "good professional practice and defending the freedom of speech and publication."

However, the council does not have legal jurisdiction or public authority.

The council responds to complaints filed about possible breaches of good professional practices (siirryt toiseen palveluun) in news media.

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