Brief in English



By Miska Rantanen

Deep inside everyone who has ever tried fencing lies an incurable romantic. “Fencing is difficult to practice without some kind of commitment. You need to have a kind of spiritual touch,” says Anne Veinola, an active member of the University Students’ Fencing Club.
    The club was registered officially in 1948, but the actual history of university fencing goes back over 355 years. Fencing requires cooperation of the body and mind, plus quick reflexes. In a short five minutes, there is no time for strategies – one has to adjust to the situation. A beginner reminds us, “It may look elegant, but you have to keep in mind that you are playing with your life!”
    The Club’s second introductory course will begin on October 31 at the Töölö fencing hall at 6:30 p.m. Training sessions are twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. An eight session course costs 550 FIM, which includes insurance, a half year membership in the Club and equipment rental. For more information, contact Anne Veinola at tel: 940-548 6407.

Tempting A Younger Audience

By Miira Lähteenmäki

The media race is on in Finland to capture the 15-25 year old audience. Firms like Carrols, Microsoft and One Way requested shows that match the mindset of their commercials and products. In television, MTV3’s Jyrki show has taken the lead, after five weeks of broadcasting, viewer counts have reached their target of eight percent. Producer Marko Kulmala explains, “Jyrki is a `narrow casting’ program of the 90’s. It is not looking for as wide an audience as it can find. What is important is to cover the target group as well as possible.”
    YLE, television’s channels 1 and 2, has also created a new program for younger people: A-Bros. Ari Savinen of YLE admits that channel three is far stronger in 15-25 ratings, “Young people’s programmers are on channel one, but two has more viewers. The success of the Kummeli series has given channel two a younger profile.”
    KissFM is another newcomer targeting youth on the radio market, competing mainly against Radio Mafia and Radio City. Kiss-FM’s Managing Director Markus Vainio feels the whole target group orientation has gotten out of hand, “We continually treat young people as if they were from a different planet altogether. They are normal people just like all the rest of us.”

Osmo’s Republic

By Jarri Vuorio

Osmo Soininvaara, a parliamentary representative from the Green party, is looked on with disfavor on both sides of the fence. The left consider him `blue-green’ as they say in Finland: a green leaning towards conservatism, and the right consider him a `red-green’: a green with liberal tendencies. He even has critics within his own Green party. This fall, Soininvaara received the Pro Oeconomia award from the Economic Union for his book “Hyvinvointivaltion eloonjäämisoppi” (Keeping the Welfare State Alive), a presentation of the problems confronting Finnish society and some models for their solution. During these times of budget cuts and savings, many are complaining, but few are offering solutions. Although Soininvaara’s tactics are at times radical, many have read his book and discussion about his ideas continues.
    In his book Soininvaara presents his model for a standard income, which would do away with income traps created by income-dependent expenses. The current system punishes an increase in salary, for example, by raising day-care costs. Many other groups have presented similar standard income models. “The Young Finns use the same building blocks as I, but aren’t willing to say what kind of society they are building,” Soininvaara explains. The economist/parliamentary representative is a staunch defender of public services in his book. They are not to blame for Finland’s current difficulties, rather the fall of an overheated private economy resulted in a bloated public sector. Now the challenge is to temper the state deficit – mere budget cuts will slowly kill Finland’s welfare state. Soininvaara feels the game rules need to be changed: unemployment insurance, taxation, energy use and social policy must be renewed.

EU Media Disappoints Viewers

By Jarno Forssell

Finland’s joining the EU has decidedly been the largest media event since the second world war. In just a few years, thousands of articles, television shows, brochures and posters have covered the event. Despite the barrage, Finns still complain of insufficient EU reporting. What is going wrong? “The citizens long for some kind of debate,” explains Ulla-Maija Kivikuru of the University of Helsinki communications department. She feels that journalism has been guilty of concentrating on concrete news from Brussels, rather than what the nation wants to hear.
    Heikki Heikkilä
read hundreds of EU articles from the Helsingin Sanomat for his research on the subject and came up with a similar result. “When it comes to the EU, journalism has acted traditionally and conservatively – a mere updater of technical information.” Heikkilä feels a real discussion of the EU and its ramifications, with reader/viewer participation, has been absent from media coverage.
    Kivikuru says many feel the media is clearly pro-EU in its coverage and this bias is understood as a rejection of the media’s neutral role of information distributor.

A New Home for Nyyti

By Pirkko Tuominen

Nyyti r.y, the student support center, recently moved to a new location: Mannerheimintie 40A. Kati Kettunen, the new director of the center, is happy with the new, pleasant surroundings, which she hopes will welcome more students to take advantage of their services, “We still need to lower our threshold. No problem or matter is too small that a student couldn’t contact us.” 17 new student workers are now being trained to keep up with the increasing number of visitors. Nyyti works by the principle of offering fellow students support and someone to talk to, either by phone or face-to-face. In addition to one on one support, five support groups meet weekly to discuss thesis writing, eating disorders and the like. Contact Nyyti at tel: 492 006 for more information.

Independent UN Group

By Miira Lähteenmäki

The Helsinki University Students’ United Nations Organization (HYKY) is not a subsidiary of Finland’s United Nations Union, rather an independent group made up of students from all faculties, which joins with the larger organization only for temporary cooperative ventures. Chairperson Annikka Tenkanen explains why, “We don’t want to support any political motives, instead we want to serve the average student’s interests. The UN is politically dependent at different times and in different ways, but we want to stay outside of that.”
    There are over 100 members in HYKY, but only about 15 of these are active. “We hear comments like `these days its so hard to get by myself that I can’t be bothered to think of children in Ecuador.’ Each of us is trying to make ends meet, though, so it is more a matter of attitude and interest.” HYKY meets every even week on Mondays at 6 p.m. on the 7th floor of Mannerheimintie 5B.

Surfing at the Net Cafe

By Miska Rantanen

The Magazine Cafe, located at the Old Student House at Mannerheimintie 3, now has yet another way to stimulate your conscience. In addition to what is most likely the largest collection of alternative magazines in the city, the cafe has eight brand new computers hooked up to the Internet information network for customer use.
    Surfing on the Internet is encouraged, but working on seminars or your thesis is out. “There is no disk drive in the machines, so you can’t vacuum the data out for your own use. We don’t want any viruses, either,” says Tom Jacobsson of the Helsinki Student Union (HYY). All you need be to try a turn on the Internet is a HYY member and Magazine cafe customer. The cafe is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Translation Pamela Kaskinen