Demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the Aamulehti newspaper in Tampere on Friday in protest against the dismissal earlier this week of Johanna Korhonen, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of the paper Lapin Kansa. Lapin Kansa and Aamulehti are owned by Alma Media, Finland's second-largest media group. Korhonen says she was fired on grounds on her sexual orientation, and that she was offered hush money to keep quiet about the matter. Around 30 demonstrators protested against Korhonen's dismissal outside the Aamulehti offices. Alma Media is now facing a campaign of subscription boycotts and internet petitions following the decision to sack Korhonen. For example, on Facebook alone, some 5,000 users have signed up to an Alma Media boycott campaign. Alma Media's CEO Kai Telanne says the company has no plans to reverse its decision. He told YLE Television News that Korhonen had not been honest with the company during her job interview. Responding to a question, he said Alma Media would have no objection to a publicly gay person being an editor-in-chief within the company. Korhonen Surprised by Debate The controversy surrounding the Alma Media decision has surprised Korhonen herself. In an interview given to YLE Lapin Radio, she had only wanted to spark a public debate on the issue of her dismissal. Korhonen expressed her dismay at Telanne's accusations of dishonesty. She noted the political neutrality of the editor-in-chief and her inner circle had been discussed during the job interview. Korhonen said did not mention her partner's involvement in local politics in Vantaa, as it was irrelevant to their move to Rovaniemi in the north of Finland. Alma Media cited the involvement in politics of Korhonen's partner as the reason for her dismissal. Call for Police to Investigate Homophobic Remarks
An un-named person has called on police in Rovaniemi to investigate whether the retiring editor of Lapin Kansa, Heikki Tuomi-Nikula, is guilty of inciting discrimination against minorities. Earlier journalists working at Lapin Kansa in Rovaniemi called for his resignation following a homophobic remark he made on Thursday.
He told YLE that an openly gay person would have a difficult time in working in the job. He also said that the newspaper's owner, Alma Media, had botched the hiring process, as the media group had not thoroughly investigated Korhonen's background.
"I find it quite peculiar that there would be an open lesbian here. Someone could be in the closet, and I'm sure there are people like that around," elaborated Tuomi-Nikula.
Alma Media owns many publications including the Tampere-based Aamulehti, the business paper Kauppalehti and the tabloid Iltalehti.