Prose Over Substance


Viikko 15


Motion: THB that children should be civilised by subscribing to a quality weekly in a family (aided by tax breaks)
Role: Chair (opp.)
Date: Aug 14th, 2013

As the chair of the opposition, I would want to talk against the motion of the govt. and, in order to do that, more specifically, about the Finnish ”quality” weekly, Suomen Kuvalehti. In English, it would be called ”Finland’s Picture Magazine”, but to spare us difficult referencing, let’s call it by its initials of ”SK”.

SK has self-appointed itself Finland’s ”thinking man’s weekly” following the lead of such foreign staple publications as Newsweek, National Geographic, Time, the Economist and so on. ”Critical thinking”, ”in-depth analysis”, ”multilayered journalism” among other things would allegedly be on offer for anyone to consume. Also, ”top interviews”, ”a critical eye to powers that be” & ”analyses of what is really happening behind the scenes” are to be had. Can it really be this good?

It can’t. Since Finland is weak when it comes to quality journalism, one weekly can stake a claim to all the attributes that the whole of the field of quality weeklies normally possess out in the wider world. Because the magazine is one of its kind, it tries to co-opt all the praiseworthy credentials of its family tree. It’s not entirely true, though, that there wouldn’t be any other quality periodicals in Finland. There are, but instead of weeklies they are bimonthlies, monthlies and quarterlies etc., or they are women’s magazines not aimed to menfolk.

I am not saying that SK would be an untalented, no-good magazine, but the funny thing is that its merits are somewhere else than advertised. What is SK good at? Sometimes it’s a good column one of its staff writers has written, even though even then it’s more a question of hard-nosed opinion than hard facts. Sometimes, the magazine has bought an article from a free-lancing dark horse that turns out to be extraordinarily revealing, insightful or just plain well written. Sometimes it’s news from abroad or foreign correspondents who moonlight for SK that come up with the goods, breaking news or opinions. This, however, is a far cry from the center-of-thinking role the magazine claims. Only our brains can hold such status or such a distinct position. No magazine could possibly guide or lead us to think straight or right. Namely, we need so much other information besides the written word to formulate our convictions that only our brains can handle that. Therefore, SK is only one of many sources that contributes (a) little each and every time it is read.

Sometimes it feels that maybe SK is a magazine, which is what is is, so that it can fulfill its secret, truer mission: to be the magazine that brings together most members of the so-called right-wing parties in Finland: Christian Democrats, the Coalition Party, the Centre Party and the Swedish People’s Party. This leaves out Social Democrats, the Left Alliance, the Green League and True Finns. Sometimes the magazine’s matter-of-fact, stuffy, rigid approach smacks of pandering to the ”rightest” common denominator, which means that it steers clear of e.g. religion-criticism not to offend certain quarters.

If the U.S. had an equivalent periodical, I would say that it toed the G.O.P. line and platform, without, perhaps, resorting to disinformation of the right-wing TV kind of mass communication. Liberal newspapers are the other, not entirely problem-free alternative, on the other hand.

By way of conclusion, I’d like to state that because quality weeklies are not unproblematic, families should not be bothered with subscribing to them for the children. There are more important things. Thanks.

Puheen kesto: 4 min 50 sek
Arvio: * * * ½. On vaikeaa puhua lehdistöä vastaan, mutta tässä tapauksessa puhe onnistuu suhteellisen hyvin ja jäntevästi. Puheessa ei toistella roskaa ja itsestäänselvyyksiä kuten mainoslauseissa tai poliittisessa jargonissa. Pituus on sopiva, ja loppu on napakka.




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