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All Points North #29: Henna Huttu and Sam Kingsley on Roma portrayals in Finnish media

This week APN dissects a media campaign that relied on celebrity voices to highlight discrimination against Roma in Finland.

Audio: Yle News

Head of the National Advisory Board on Roma Affairs Henna Huttu and journalist Sam Kingsley joined All Points North to discuss a recent exposé on Roma workplace discrimination in Finland spearheaded by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences and reported in daily Helsingin Sanomat. The paper rounded up four high-profile Finns and sent out their résumés with Roma-sounding names, resulting in no call-backs for interviews. Watch the video here (in Finnish).

This week's APN discussed the problems with these kinds of trials and pondered why Finland still appears to need mainstream voices to spread the word about minority experiences - even when the minority group in question are native Finnish speakers, and have lived in the country for centuries. Finland's Roma population now stands at around 10,000 and the unemployment rate in this group is around 50 percent. Some 3,000 Finnish Roma now live in neighbouring Sweden.

Henna Huttu says the experiment could have just as well focused on actual Roma people and their real-life CVs instead of using celebrity proxies. She said that while the public figures brought recognition to the problem with their sympathy and shock on being rejected, they are ultimately incapable of knowing or relating the pain of being exposed to this kind of rejection on a long-term basis. In this respect, she said she felt the idea fell short.

AFP journalist Kingsley spoke about a similar test he devised for Yle's Silmännäkijä programme in 2013, when he recorded how differently a Somali, Russian-speaking and Finnish man were treated in various scenarios, such as asking to use a phone on the street or trying to gain admission to a nightclub, or securing a job interview or apartment rental.

Discussion of the attention-grabbing Helsingin Sanomat piece finished with an exchange of thoughts on the future of the Roma community in Finland, and what that might mean for the larger immigrant population.

The most popular news items of the week included a story on more people leaving Finland and fewer arriving. Some 32,000 people moved to Finland in 2017, which was some 3,000 fewer than the previous year. Meanwhile nearly 17,000 people left the country last year, or six percent more than the year before, according to Statistics Finland.

Another fan-favourite was a story about Helsinki Regional Transport approving new fare zones. The change means steep cuts in prices for some and small increases for others.

Readers were also interested in the ongoing saga of Airiston Helmi, the Turku real estate company reportedly owned by a mysterious Russian billionaire. At least two employees at the company, which owns luxury properties on islands around the archipelago, are suspected of aggravated tax evasion and other white collar crimes.

If you have any questions, or would like to share something on your mind, just contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook or Twitter account, or at

The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's show was presented by Zena Iovino and Mark B. Odom with guests Henna Huttu and Sam Kingsley. Our reporter was Denise Wall, the show's producer was Pamela Kaskinen, and this week's sound technician was Juho Jäntti.

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