The main trade union for journalists in Finland is the Union of Finnish Journalists (founded 1921). The union is an independent trade union and does not belong to any central confederation. The union aims to improve the financial and professional situation and working conditions of its members, regardless of the individual member's mode of working. The union also defends journalists’ copyright entitlements and the status of journalism and its ethics. The union promotes freedom of expression. In terms of communications policy, the union’s goal is to safeguard media diversity.
By membership, the journalists union was the biggest cultural trade union in Finland in 2016. The principal occupations of the 14,921 members are journalists, photo journalists, sub-editors, editorial assistants, publication editors and graphic artists in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. The Union negotiates a collective bargaining agreement for media employees with the employers’ associations. The union has 17 member associations. The largest associations are the Finnish Association of Radio and Television Journalists and the Association of Finnish Freelance Journalists. The number of women as members surpassed men as long ago as 1998. In 2017, 57 percent of union members are women. Women also account for more than 70 percent of student members.
Finland is a wonderland for associations, as there are 15 journalists associations for members specializing in Agriculture, Economy, Environment, Food, Foreign Affairs, Health, Innovation, Interior Design, Investigative, Justice, Photojournalism, Politics, Science and Education, Social Policy or Sports. In addition, there are non-profit ideological and political associations for journalists, for example by Centre Party, Social Democratic Party, Young Finns Journalists, Leftist Journalists and Women Journalists in Finland. There are also associations for editors-in-chiefs working in major daily newspapers, in local newspapers, free newspapers or magazines.
The independent organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has ranked Finland first in the World Press Freedom Index for the past five years since 2011. However, Finland has been ousted from the top spot in the 2017 Index by Norway. At the same time, Finland ranks fourth in the world for newspaper readers per capita, with 200 newspapers, including 33 dailies. According to the RSF, the image of Finland’s flagship public service broadcaster Yle was dented in December 2016 by “Sipilägate,” in which Prime Minister Juha Sipilä reportedly pressured Yle to modify its coverage of a possible conflict of interest involving him. Two Yle journalists said they were the targets of political pressure that constituted a violation of freedom of information. They subsequently resigned. The director and executive editor-in-chief at Yle resigned from his position by the end of May 2017.