Reporting on New Year’s Eve Shootings in Finland: Cultural and Media Bias is Clear

Ibrahim Shukpolli walked into a shopping center in Espoo, Finland on New Year’s Eve and blew away five people. Typically, the press is already bringing up the issue of the number of guns available in Finland, and the need for stricter gun control laws.

As the media has duly noted, Finland has been the site of two other mass shootings in recent years.  Unlike this most recent one, these killings had occurred in schools.

When the last shootings happened, my  intercultural communication class at a university in Finlans discussed the cause of these mass murders.  We used as a focal point of discussion two columns. 

In one article from the Helsinki newspaper, the author blamed the shool system for failing its students. As a counterpoint to this column, I wrote a column under a pseudonym from an American educator which blamed the incidents on the fact of evil in the world and distributed it to my students. 

The reactions from my students showed that they were somewhat split in which opinion they agreed with. As this was a culture class with a mix of nationalities the responses tended to be similar on the basis of where the students were from.  

Now the British and American press I have groggily reviewed this New Year’s Day is quick to blame the availability of guns in Finland, a nation of hunters.  The political correctness and bias and cultural blindness couldn’t be more evident.

The school I teach at now in the States is infamous for a mass shooting in 2007 that killed 32 people.  In comparing the most recent shooting in Finland with the one here, I have observed one connecting point: both shooters were immigrants with a chip on their shoulder.  Why isn’t some intelligent person in the media trying to connect those dots?

The life of an immigrant is not an easy one.  They have to cross cultures, learn a new language, and assimilate in other ways into the life of  their new country.  It is easy to become isolated, especially if circumstances start to turn south. This can lead to all kinds of emotional problems. 

Finland is a homogenous culture where it is difficult for an immigrant to fit in.  I have met many who have, but the cultural tendency of the Finns to stay to themselves doesn’t make it easy.

While my suggestion that the problems that come with being an estranged foreigner contributed to this man walking into a mall and killing several people is not very scientific, it is just as valid as the suggestion from supposedly professional news people that guns were the cause.

When will journalism return to being an objective enterprise?


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