UJF president Hanne Aho says that departure of the director of news and current affairs at Yle promotes the resolution of the crisis that has gripped the public broadcaster in recent months.
“The most important thing is that Yle staff are allowed to get on with their work,” said Aho.
Yle announced on 29 May that Atte Jääskeläinen, the public broadcaster’s director of news, current affairs, sport and regional programming and executive chief editor was resigning with immediate effect.
The announcement said that Yle’s board and its CEO had agreed with Jääskeläinen that he would resign from the organisation, as it was no longer possible for him to perform his duties successfully.
“Confidence in Yle during this crisis has been severely shaken”, said Aho. “The solution is a good one in terms of restoring confidence.”
Jääskeläinen’s resignation comes in the wake of findings by an external review of Yle’s handling of the so-called Sipilägate affair, which in turn followed a hard-hitting judgement by the media watchdog the Council for Mass Media.
Aho stressed the importance of the media’s role in society, one based on its reliability. The influence exerted by politicians on Yle has undermined faith in the broadcaster’s independence.
“People have learnt a lot from this, among other things that journalists and politicians have different tasks in society.”
The day before Jääskeläinen’s resignation was announced, the national daily Helsingin Sanomat published an interview with him, in which he had this to say about the CMM: “Yle is actually a member of CMM voluntarily. If CMM starts to lay down Yle’s journalistic policy unduly, it will have to set up its own organ for this.” The same day, Jääskeläinen distanced himself from his remarks, saying that Yle was not about to withdraw from CMM.
Yle’s board held a special meeting to discuss Jääskeläinen’s resignation the same day it was announced. A statement issued by the meeting reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to the “truthful, relevant and diverse communication of information, also in the future… In its journalism.” The statement said that Yle is committed to its Code of Conduct regarding content and journalism and to the Guidelines for Journalists. Yle also remains committed to the Council for Mass Media.