Election Funding Crisis: Media and Politics at Crossroads?

The study aims to elucidate the significance of the election funding crisis that started in spring 2008. It seems that the decades-old, established practices of the Finnish political system are in crisis. This offers an excellent opportunity to shed light on the current nature of the relationship between the media and the political system and how it has changed.

The study provides a comprehensive view of the election funding crisis and its significance. Data is gathered on three different levels: 1) interviews with central actors 2) analysis of media content and 3) audience research. The interviews reveal how journalists, politicians and experts see the crisis and its relevance. Media content analysis forms a general view of the publicity of the election funding crisis and the actors involved. The public’s impressions of the crisis and its significance are examined with two representative surveys, as well as analyzes of small group data and online discussions.

The objective is to form an overall picture of the progress of the election funding crisis and, at the same time, provide answers to the following three questions. First, how has the relationship between journalism and politics developed and how is it developing? What are the roles of the different media in politics? Are we talking about a crossroads - has the media cut loose from politics? Second, the extent to which the crisis has
affected the credibility of the media and politics in public’s eye will be evaluated. Third, the significance of the crisis to the future of journalism will be described; are we witnessing the march of a new generation of journalists and their values?

The study is co-conducted by the University of Helsinki Communication Research Centre (CRC) and the University of Tampere Journalism Research and Development Centre
. The Communication Research Centre is responsible for the analysis of the interview data and the Journalism Research and Development Centre for the analysis of media content and audience data. The project is set to start at the beginning of 2010 and will be complete in March 2011. Public debate on the crisis will most likely continue well into 2010 due to the preparation of the legislative proposal concerning election
funding, and the study aims to cover this debate in its entirety. Interview and survey data will also be gathered also after the crisis has abated, so that the long-term effects will be easier to deduce. The study will produce a report in which all the research data is merged into a clear description of the progress and respective significance of the crisis.

The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

Timetable 2010-2011.

Contact persons at the University of Helsinki:
Anu Kantola
Communication Research Centre
FI-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland
tel. +358 9 191 24 653

Juho Vesa

Salli Hakala

About project in Finnish (pdf)