Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic November 14, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Arctic Finland’s newspaper seeks to boost online popularity

Lapin Kansa also features North Saami stories

JANE GEORGE
Eero Leppänen, the online manager of the Lapin Kansa newspaper in Rovaniemi, Finland, follows the number of online readers on two huge screens in the newsroom. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Eero Leppänen, the online manager of the Lapin Kansa newspaper in Rovaniemi, Finland, follows the number of online readers on two huge screens in the newsroom. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
A Lapin Kansa journalist who wants privacy in the newsroom to conduct an interview can go into this pod. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
A Lapin Kansa journalist who wants privacy in the newsroom to conduct an interview can go into this pod. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
After looking at a copy of Nunatsiaq News, Outi Paadar, the North Saami journalist at the Lapin Kansa newspaper in Rovaniemi, Finland, is reminded of the Saami debate over dialect and orthography, which was resolved 40 years ago. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
After looking at a copy of Nunatsiaq News, Outi Paadar, the North Saami journalist at the Lapin Kansa newspaper in Rovaniemi, Finland, is reminded of the Saami debate over dialect and orthography, which was resolved 40 years ago. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

ROVANIEMI, FINLAND—When you walk into the sleek and airy high-tech newsroom of Lapin Kansa, the newspaper serving Finland’s Arctic region, you feel as if you have stepped into a newsroom of the future.

But, despite its ultra-modern look and the obvious availability of high-speed internet, some of the challenges facing this Arctic newspaper are similar to those in Canada—and particularly in northern Canada.

While Lapin Kansa serves a much larger regional readership—more than 60,000 alone in the city of Rovaniemi—the newspaper still works hard to draw in readers as well as advertisers, and its print edition is difficult and expensive to distribute.

Lapin Kansa also tries to provide news in an Indigenous language—in this case, North Saami—spoken by Saami who live in the region they call Sápmi, which stretches across northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Since 2012, Outi Paadar has served as Lapin Kansa‘s first and only Saami reporter, writing one or two stories a week in the North Saami dialect. The newspaper also publishes short summaries of her stories in Finnish.

Paadar, 42, who, unlike many Saami of her age, speaks and writes North Saami fluently, learned the language from her parents and then continued her studies at the University of Oulu.

“It’s one of the ways to revitalize a language so it’s visible, talked and used,” Paadar said about her work, during a tour of the newspaper’s offices.

Paadar’s parents often read her stories online, while Finnish readers often share the links to her stories on Twitter as well.

So far, Paadar has written more than 600 stories—the latest on clashes between Saami reindeer herders and loggers. The conflict is common enough among the roughly 9,000 Saami who live in Finland.

Saami, like Inuktitut, has seen many debates over dialects and orthography, Paadar said, adding that the North Saami dialect in which she writes today was adopted by Saami in the late 1970s. It strikes a balance between the several dialects of the Saami language spoken in Sápmi, she said.

Because Paadar’s job is partially subsidized by the Finnish government’s media fund, her stories aren’t subject to a paywall preventing views, which Lapin Kansa readers normally face unless they buy a subscription.

The Lapin Kansa‘s regular daily edition—of which about 40,000 are printed—costs the equivalent of $3.75 per copy, and the newspaper’s online manager, Eero Leppänen, said it costs more than that per copy to distribute papers to the small communities in the North.

Paadar’s parents, who live in Utsjoki, 450 kilometres due north from Rovaniemi, can’t get their print copy of Lapin Kansa until after 4 p.m in the afternoon.

With fast, fibre-optic internet available throughout northern Finland, Lapin Kansa, which is owned by Alma Media, now aims to increase its online readership.

In the past, the newspaper even offered a tablet with each new online subscription as an incentive, part of a larger effort to “Make Lapland more digital.”

Unlike Nunatsiaq News, which is entirely supported by advertising, Lapin Kansa is now “very driven by subscription,” said Leppänen, with a three-month online subscription to Lapin Kansa offered for less than $30 (18 euros).

It’s a tough media environment in Lapland, where the other major newspaper in the region, the Pohjolan Sanomat, folded three years ago.

Leppänen now follows Lapin Kansa‘s online edition’s numbers in the newsroom on a large screens in the middle of the newsroom, which tell, among other things, how many readers are on every story, and how the day’s performance ranks with other days.

More than 40 per cent of its readers come to the website’s stories via Facebook—not unlike Nunatsiaq News.

Discussion of media is included during this week’s Arctic Spirit conference, which gets underway Nov. 15. The conference, with 300 participants from 20 countries, marks Finland’s first major event during its two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council and its main Arctic event during its centennial celebration year of independence from Russia.

On Nov.16, Maria Saijets, a journalist with Yle Sámi, will moderate a media panel that includes Nunatsiaq News’ Jane George; Thomas Nilsen, editor of the Independent Barents Observer; Antti Kokkonen, editor-in-chief of Lapin Kansa; Florian Stammler, a research professor at the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland; and Rosa-Máren Magga, an intern at International Barents Secretariat.

You can find the full schedule of the Arctic Spirit conference here or watch the sessions live here.

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(1) Comments:

#1. Posted by Traveler on November 14, 2017

Another fine example on how to do things in the Arctic and the north.

Hopefully up here we can have more connection with this part of the arctic and see what is more possible than what is lead to be by some.

Their small country invests much more into their region the north than what our country does for our north.

When you travel there and see what is possible the 150 celebration kinda loses its bling.

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