The role of journalism in polarization : an analysis of Finnish Broadcasting Company Yleisradio's reporting concerning issues related to the asylum seeker crisis and multiculturalism debate between 2015-2016
Mikkonen, Nadja (2017)
Master's Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research
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This thesis uses tools from media framing theories as well as critical discourse analysis to find what has been the role of Finnish journalism in polarization of opinion. The findings have been mapped against the theories of polarization and conflict escalation to give the role of journalism in polarization a wider context in relation to peace and conflict studies. The background of this thesis is the apparent opinion division in Finland between 2015-2016 regarding topics related to multiculturalism and the then topical asylum seekers crisis. Some of the public discussion became heated during this time span, as several events reflecting the variety of opinions related to the topics sparked up. The events included political outputs, emergence of street patrols as well as mass demonstrations and reactions from the media. As data, this thesis uses several articles by the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle divided into events, and one television broadcast. The findings show that Yle has certain repetitive frames as well as journalistic routines that can be interpreted to have an impact in polarization. Simultaneously, this thesis found that Yle's role in polarization overall appears subtle, and mainly resorts to amplifying existing polarization in some of the events studied in this thesis. This thesis also found that when the media covers phenomena related to polarization, different concepts related to the topics become such an intertwined amalgam that it becomes difficult to draw direct conclusions as to which phenomena the polarization effects.