News / 30.11.2023

UJF Council holds a wide-ranging debate on the crisis of confidence in the union

The autumn meeting of the Council of the Union of Journalists in Finland, 30 November-1 December, discussed the crisis of confidence and credibility facing the union. The Council is the highest decision-making body of the union and meets twice a year, in the spring and the autumn.

The crisis follows a statement by the Copyright Council on 24 October that a book by Maria Pettersson, editor-in-chief of the union’s magazine Journalisti, infringed the moral rights of researchers whose work was used in the book. The UJF Executive Board subsequently reprimanded Pettersson, and the matter was discussed on the first day of the UJF Council meeting. A vote of confidence in Pettersson as editor-in-chief of Journalisti was taken, and the vote was 33 against 32. Pettersson had previously apologised for the moral breach of copyright and repeated her apology to the Council.

The issue led to a debate on the reputation of the UJF during the first day of the Council meeting.

The Council also passed two resolutions. The first was that the union should systematically review the way in which communication about the case was handled. The second resolution is that the UJF Executive Board will present to the spring 2024 UJF Council meeting what has been done to improve communication with union members, the union’s preparedness for crisis communication and how to make the union’s work on copyright more transparent.

During the debate, it was pointed out that this is no longer a case of moral copyright infringement. “The situation has gone too far, it’s about the furore, the reputation and the credibility of the union,” said one delegate.

Speakers expressed concern about the UJF’s reputation, which they felt had been tarnished. Delegates wanted to know what the union was doing to restore its reputation.

The issue of publishing and the publishing industry was also raised, with several speakers pointing out that the union also represents publishers.

UJF President Hanne Aho said that concrete action was now needed to build confidence among members. She said that the handling of the issue had failed.

During the debate, concerns were expressed about a possible loss of members. So far, a few members have announced their resignation from the union. Aho said this was an issue that would be discussed immediately after the Council.

“Members trust the basic work of the union, that it is done as well as possible. That’s the crux of the matter. We need to have concrete measures on how to build trust among members,” Aho said.

The council was asked why the UJF board was allowing Pettersson to continue as editor-in-chief of Journalisti. Aho said that the board will evaluate how she has done her job so far. “The board has not voted, but the decision is neither easy nor simple.” Many board members agreed.

Aho said there would be a thorough analysis of what had happened. “It’s a question of the integrity and credibility of the industry and the union, so it is good that there is an open debate.”

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