Chief editor of Delfi: Shortcomings of Estonian journalism are not systemic

Urmo Soonvald.
Urmo Soonvald. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The shortcomings of Estonian journalism are not systemic. As a whole, journalism is in a good state and has shown strength during the crisis, Editor-in-Chief of Delfi and Päevaleht Urmo Soonvald in the morning program of Vikerraadio. Soonvald reviewed Editor-in-Chief of Postimees, Mart Raudsaar´s position in criticizing the government.

"I remembered a picture from the history book from 1917 of how sailors and soldiers were going to conquer the Winter Palace," Soonvald said in a comment to the criticism of Priit Pullerits, a journalism professor in the University of Tartu and Postimees journalist who had given an interview to Vikerraadio the day before.

Pullerits said that the classical neutral news has started to disappear from Estonian journalism and an article with Soviet Union connotations has started to replace it, where the opinions and attitudes of the left-wing journalists are gleaming through.

"What is it based on?" Soonvald asked. "It´s a confrontation that EKRE wants to build. Not only between editorials but in society. It´s dangerous, useful for only one party and sadly, Pullerits has started to go the same way."

"Estonian journalism is in a good state," Soonvald said. He referred to the press freedom index where we resulted in 14th place. "We fell by three places in a year and it was largely due to Postimees but I wouldn´t want to focus on that."

Soonvald doesn´t think that Estonian journalism is biased.

"That doesn´t mean that there haven´t been unsuccessful pieces with a biased attitude," Soonvald said. "But typos are not going to remind us of the spring of 2020 or the whole decade," he added.

Soonvald noted that the readership numbers of the last months are at the top in all publishing houses because good journalism is done in Estonia.

"The press's memory of the attempt to take down Elmar Vaher or the criticism of the Finnish Prime Minister is not a bias, but humanity," Soonvald said.

Pullerits said in the interview that when a young person is getting brainwashed for three to five years, seemingly in the context of university education, then it's clear with what position and attitude he will leave the university. "He doesn't have his own neutral, objective and critical attitude, instead, he has become a biased warrior. This is negative growth."

Soonvald mentioned that the universities of the world are leaning towards the left and Estonian universities are no exception where students come out with left-wing views.

Regarding the difference in the style of Estonian media houses, Soonvald cited, for example, ERR, which is less caught up in everyday competition and thus is freer. He also mentioned the aspects of "Meie Eesti" that had received criticism from Postimees but still assessed minimal differences.

At the same time, the competition has developed all genres, brought innovations to the Estonian media, Soonvald noted.

Soonvald stated that emotions have escalated between publishers during the last few months. According to him, this is partly related to Postimees' new Editor-in-Chief Mart Raudsaar, who has made unexpected speeches, positioned himself unexpectedly, saying that in critical times the press should not be too critical of the government.

"This is completely unacceptable to us," Soonvald said.

Soonvald reiterated that there is no winner in the publishing dispute.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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