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Tuesday's papers: Reporter harassment, police recruiting problems and Markkanen marches on

Papers on Tuesday include demands for measures against intimidation of reporters, problems finding police recruits, and Lauri Markkanen's latest success.

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It's getting harder to find good police officers in Finland. Image: Emilia Malin / Yle

Turun Sanomat and others report a joint letter from the editors of many of Finland's biggest media organisations demanding stronger action from the authorities to combat threats and intimidation of journalists.

The letter was sparked off by the failure to act against those attacking journalists including Rebekka Härkönen, a successful journalist from Turku, who won awards for her 2017 expose of abuse at a geriatric ward.

Until August of last year she worked for Turun Sanomat in the south-western city, but as Helsingin Sanomat recently reported that all changed when she wrote about an asylum seeker who had assisted victims of the stabbing attacks in Turku's market square.

Finland's immigration-critical community was unhappy that she had written about the asylum seeker offering assistance, and the fake news website MV Lehti wrote a story accusing her of distorting the facts. Härkönen says she tried to get a number of different eyewitnesses to speak, but the asylum seeker was the only one willing to talk on the record.

Even so, abuse and threats began to flood her email inbox. The flow increased after Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho posted the MV Lehti article on Facebook, and eventually Härkönen felt her life in Turku was so restricted that she moved to work in Helsinki. In the meantime a police investigation into the harassment continued, but eventually prosecutors decided there was no case to answer.

Härkönen also received supportive messages and on Friday was asked to drop the puck at TPS Turku's play-off hockey game against Tappara, in a widely-reported display of support, with the editors' letter following on Tuesday.

"It feels like the time is right [to press for action]," said Lännen Media editor Matti Posio. "There is a positive power, even on social media. Now we need to offer a chance for those forces to come to the fore and show that positive energy is still in the majority in this country and show that bullies can get stuffed."

Police academy seeks cops

Finland's police university college aims to train 400 new police officers each year, with four different equally-sized intakes of around a hundred starting at regular intervals. The only problem is that the school is finding it difficult to attract suitable applicants, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The group that most recently started training is only four fifths full, reports HS, and that proportion is an increase on recent years when around 15 percent of places went unfilled.

Those aspiring male cops who fail tend to be deficient in the written language requirements, while rejected female applicants are most often unable to pass the physical test, says the school's principal Petri Alkiora.

Just half of applicants are even invited for the entrance exam, so poor is the standard of applicant.

"Sometimes I wonder whether some applicants have even read the book or understood the physical requirements," Akiora tells HS. "Then it feels like they're wasting both their and our time."

Markkanen making his mark

Lauri Markkanen's rookie season in the NBA has been a soaring success, even if his Chicago Bulls are doing pretty poorly. STT reports that on Monday night Markkanen became only the fourth player in Bulls history to score 1,000 points and take 500 rebounds in his debut season.

Coming to the end of his first season, his place as the most successful Finnish NBA player of all time is already secure, just seven months after he made his debut in the league. 

The only three previous Bulls players to achieve that were Elton Brand, Dave Greenwood and Michael Jordan. The Bulls now have one more game this season, against the Detroit Pistons in Chicago on Wednesday. 

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