If you have been following Finnish media recently, there’s a story you can’t have missed. Namely, Ylioppilaslehti’s infamous article where the editor-in-chief and one writer travelled from Helsinki to Turku on a bus and well, according to the article, defecated into their pants. The article stirred major media attention and the tabloids were having a blast. I think it was a little confusing to hear the high horse-attitude from this one editor-in-chief whose paper regularly markets itself by scaring people about diseases (swine flu anyone?) or with “Check out that cleavage”-styled “articles”.
The one question that bothered me while reading the Ylioppilaslehti article was “why”. While reading on, I was waiting for that snappy Ylioppilaslehti explanation or comment about why this article had to be done. Maybe they wanted to do an allegory about the recent trend where journalists seem to be unable to write remarks about issues without including themselves in the process, as if they think that normal people cannot understand phenomena without someone “just like them” trying them out and reflecting on their reactions. (No offense, but I would be more interested in an account of, for example, food’s production chain, than hearing about one woman’s struggle to find anything to eat when she’s trying to survive with truly Finnish food for a month.)
Or maybe Ylioppilaslehti wanted to show that their piece is only the top of an iceberg, that the current trend of selling everything with shock value is bad. The television is filled with verbal poo (Finnish Jersey Shore, seriously?) and often papers turn to scandalous headlines and pictures to lure more readers. Or maybe this was an attempt to write gonzo journalism? That would be an understandable reason, although as a gonzo piece, the article still wouldn’t have been very good.
One issue that touches me personally is the role editors-in-chief have in their papers. I can somewhat understand how in a tired-jokes-and-too-much-coffee-meeting this kind of an idea came to existence and that they decided to go through with it. Whether the goal was to make a comment, a statement, entertain or to gain more readers, the editor-in-chief thought it was worth aspiring to. What actually disturbs me the most is not the execution itself, but the aftermath, the way the editor-in-chief handled the situation.
Like I said above, when I read the article for the first time I was waiting for that snappy comment on WHY this article was done, what’s the reasoning behind it, what it wanted to say. And, well, it never came. Even in the interviews with the editor-in-chief of Ylioppilaslehti later on, they never clarified what the idea was, simply stating something like “Everything you need to know is in the article itself.” Well, yeah, I get the joke, it’s the same with some modern art pieces where the artist hangs a pair of dirty knickers on a wall and calls it “Untitled” and refuses to comment about the piece. But. There’s a big “but”: Ylioppilaslehti is not a modern art piece – it’s a magazine, which is supposed to represent all students. It has colorful history and I’ve always felt that Ylioppilaslehti is a rare gem among Finnish papers, it has done radical articles and interviewed people no one else had. I hope that this one article does not indicate Ylioppilaslehti’s direction and merely showed lack of judgment.
Finally, I want to congratulate Ylioppilaslehti for this sad, but successful cry for attention. Without any explanations or comments from the editor-in-chief they got undivided attention from major media in Finland. That’s rare for a student paper. The price you have to pay for that glory is a different matter though.
Please enjoy this BTSB issue without any detritus! Learn more about SUB’s brand new president Kerttu, the Hamlets among us, unpredicted presents from friends, movie violence, blues music and so forth! Please do leave comments, let us know how we’re doing and what do you think!