CASE: Reader participation in the renewals of Aamulehti

Cooperation between editorial staff and readers has borne fruit at Aamulehti. In October 2010, the newspaper launched two entirely new sections. The “Good Life” offers service journalism and makes the readership’s daily life easier. The “Perspective” enhances the quality of public debate in Finland by initiating dialogue on a new topic each day. The two sections are the first of their kind in Finnish newspapers.

There were over 300 instances of direct feedback from readers after the reforms were implemented. Of the initial reactions, 20% were highly positive while an equal percentage was also severely critical. More than half of those who submitted feedback did not consider the reforms to be particularly major. The newspaper still looked and felt like the Aamulehti they knew. Having the readership embrace new content easily is an encouraging sign for the editorial staff.

A significant proportion of the feedback in the first few days concerned changes on the television programming page: programming information for the Christian-oriented TV7 channel had been removed and the Sudoku puzzle had been moved to another page. The strong reaction from the readers resulted in these elements being returned to their old places.

The Good Life Section receives some twenty ideas for stories from readers every week. The debate starters in the Perspective section have given rise to hundreds of comments.

The readers are participating at an unforeseen level.

Juha Ranta
Readers Editor
Aamulehti

CASE: When online, responsibility must be assumed in seconds

The strength of the Kauppalehti.fi online service lies in breaking business news that evolve as the day goes on. We flesh out the story through additional articles and perspectives.

An analytical approach that provides background to the story is the task of the printed newspaper. Through the online service, we can piece together views from the different parties involved without hiding them within a long article. Snappy copy is easy to read.

The web also opens up the stories related to business and economics to a broader readership than the audience of professionals the print version traditionally reaches. We want to connect with people of different ages in their various roles: entrepreneurs, private investors, consumers, motorists, and taxpayers.

By having a large readership, Finland’s leading business media enters into the coffee table discussions at workplaces. At the same time, the requirement for speed and lightness poses new challenges to the professionalism and expertise of journalists. On the web, journalistic decisions must be made in a fraction of the time available in traditional media. Regardless of the fast pace, each decision must be based on sound judgement. Is the headline accurate, is the source reliable, is the topic interesting enough – these are the questions we deal with on a daily basis.

If mistakes do happen, we strive to correct them immediately. Credibility and reliability are the cornerstones of our operations.

Kauppalehti.fi can reference other media, but it must be done fairly, giving credit where it’s due. We want to be known as a fair player who knows and respects the rules of the game.

In addition to news, we offer readers a diverse discussion forum focused on investing, entrepreneurship and economic policy. There are also forums where visitors can voice their opinions on other matters. The online forums have 80,000–100,000 unique weekly visitors. By far, the most popular forum is the Shares forum, followed by the Comments on News forum in second place and, in third, the Coffee Room where any topic goes. The rules of the forum emphasise freedom of speech and letting all voices be heard on one hand, but also restraint comments that are out of line on the other. Each participant in the discussions is responsible for the content of his or her messages. There are limits to what is allowed.

Moderators delete messages that are criminal, racist, sexist or incite hatred against parts of the population. We also intervene in cases of bullying, name-calling and advertising. Our goal is to maintain our position as our readers’ favourite Finnish online discussion forum on business and economics.

Jari Peltola
News Editor
Kauppalehti.fi