News / 24.05.2024

UJF Council: report on union’s crisis communications finds room for improvement

The Council welcomed the report and discussed it in depth. It also encouraged the UJF Board to develop the union’s activities in line with the report's recommendations. Photo: Mika Heijari

The UJF will improve its crisis communications by updating its communication plans, training its staff and developing its operational and managerial capacity.

Proposals for this are included in an external report commissioned by the union to improve its communication work.

At its autumn meeting in November 2023, the UJF Council adopted a resolution calling for an evaluation of the union’s communication activity. 

This was prompted in the wake of the then editor-in-chief of the union’s magazine, Journalisti, receiving a reprimand from the Copyright Council concerning the use of sources in a book she had written and the union’s handling of the matter.

Early this year, the UJF commissioned an internal report on crisis communication from writer and communications management expert Lilly Korpiola.

Korpiola presented her report and development proposals to the spring session of the UJF Council in Helsinki on Thursday, 23 May.

The Council welcomed the report and discussed it in depth. It also encouraged the UJF Board to develop the union’s activities in line with the report's recommendations.

The report highlights several reasons why the handling and communication of the crisis faltered, including the failure to finalise a crisis communication plan. As a result, there was a lack of backup staffing arrangements and no plan of action to deal with widespread media coverage.

UJF President Hanne Aho welcomed the fact that the communication was handled by an external evaluator.

“The process has given us an understanding and knowledge of the issues that need to be developed. The process was important in itself,” said Aho.

“The evaluator raises many issues, and we have already taken action on some of them. For example, we have agreed on backup arrangements and responsibilities in crisis situations in more detail than before,” said Aho.

Public and union member surveys

In addition to the external survey, the UJF Council wanted to find out how the crisis affected the image of the union and its members’ perception of the union. Two surveys were carried out by Iro Research Ltd.

A public opinion survey was carried out through the Tuhat suomalaista citizens’ panel. Many of the respondents recalled the debate about the UJF last autumn.

45% of Finns recalled having heard or read about it. Almost as many did not remember having heard or read about it at all. 

Just over half of those who had heard about it, 55%, said that their perception of the Journalists' Union had not changed. The image of the union had improved for 14% and worsened for 23% of respondents.

Two out of three respondents to the survey said they considered the work of UJF members important in providing the public with accurate information.

A second survey of union members found that members’ perceptions of the union were slightly more affected by the crisis than those of the general public.

The survey showed that 46% of members' perception of the union as a whole remained unchanged, 36% felt it had deteriorated, and 15% felt it had improved.

42% of respondents felt that the union handled the issue badly, and 30% felt that it had handled the issue well.

The responses showed that the union's overall communication work was perceived as generally good but members particularly expressed a wish to improve crisis communication.

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