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Monday's papers: Gender-neutral language, youth drinking and startup failures

Monday's papers include stories on one newspaper's decision to ditch gender-specific job titles, a look at why Finnish youth are not drinking as much alcohol as previous generations, and a story on the millions of euros lost betting on startups.

Alkoholiriippuvuus.
Finnish youth are not as keen on getting tipsy than they used to be. Image: Wasim Khuzam / Yle

Over the weekend Tampere daily Aamulehti announced it would no longer use gender-specific job titles, such as chairman or fireman, and to ban the use of terms like 'female athlete' as unnecessary.

The paper said that Finnish is an easy language in which to be gender neutral, as the personal pronoun hän is itself gender-neutral in Finnish, but certain terms remain in use even though they don't reflect the equal society and the varied roles men and women occupy in modern Finland.

The original decision was published on Saturday evening, and the weekend saw a flood of reaction to the text, which AL summarises on Monday.

Speaker of Parliament (whose official title is gendered in Finnish) Maria Lohela said that the name doesn't bother her, but that she approved of language adjusting and changing as time goes on.

Timo Soini, the Foreign Minister from the Blue Reform faction in parliament, took a different view.

"April Fools' Day is in April," wrote Soini in his blog. "If I recall correctly. Aamulehti's editorial has mandated use of a new language in which a man is everything but a man."

Most of the rest of the reaction was positive, with other media editors--including Yle's Marit af Björkesten--saying they would consider whether they might follow Aamulehti's lead.

Sober youth

Last week Finland's Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) published a report suggesting young people in Finland are drinking less than they used to. It's a long-term trend, and on Monday Helsingin Sanomat tries to look at the reasons behind it.

The paper interviews two 16-year-olds who are both cool on boozing, and then asks researchers why Finnish kids might be less keen on getting drunk each weekend.

The researchers noted some interesting facts. Children in wealthier areas apparently drink more than those in less salubrious districts, but alcohol taxation does not appear to have much of an effect on the sobriety of young people.

One possible factor is the changing nature of parent-child relationships. Kids these days want a more democratic and equal relationship with their parents, and to be a part of their lives. Parents want to know more about what their kids get up to, and children are keen to spend time with their parents.

That close relationship makes it less tempting to lie to guardians, which can often be a precondition for an evening drinking cider in the park.

Startups down

Kauppalehti leads with an investigation of startup success. Only they don't seem to find much success: of 82 firms in their sample, only 8 are breaking even.

That sample is composed of firms who announced more than five million euros in venture capital funding between 2010 and 2016 via Kauppalehti's sister paper Talouselämä. That means it's not comprehensive, but they still represent some 1.1 billion euros in investment, with around 885 million euros of that consumed by losses.

Of the 82 firms in the sample, eight have gone bankrupt and more could be on the way. The big successes in the sample are software firm Aava Mobile and the children's activity centre company SuperPark, which between them turned over more than 44 million euros in 2016.

The overall figures are, however, skewed somewhat by KL's decision to omit gaming giant Supercell from the figures. The Helsinki-based firm had a turnover of 2.3 billion euros in 2016, which if included in the analysis would have made the startup picture a little rosier, to say the least.

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