MOT found guilty of spreading hurtful information

The Supreme Court has sentenced the MOT-program’s journalist and its program manager to fines for spreading information that injures the private life.

In 2004 a man found guilty of incest appeared in MOT in an episode called “Doctors as judges” (the manuscript for the sentenced program ). The man appeared under his own first name and was filmed diagonally from behind. As a result, the incest victim and the child’s mother could be recognized. The Supreme Court has sentenced the man, the journalist who made the program and the former program manager to heavy fines (the court’s sentence ).

15500 € in fines

Earlier, in 2007, all three were freed from all charges. Then the court ruling was that the man was not recognizable in the program. Today the ruling was different and they were issued fines between 500 and 3900 euros. Besides paying the incest victim and the mother’s court expenses the man, the journalist and the program manager have to compensate them 5000 euros for mental suffering, which adds up to 15500 euros.

On the program’s blog (Korkein oikeus opettaa) the journalist writes that the earlier ruling was right and the Supreme Court’s sentence wrong and defends his right to criticize the court’s decisions. He also writes that he intends to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights .

22.01.09 Sara Sundman

Comment

Is Finnish in-depth journalism in trouble?

Today’s sentencing is only the latest of many for MOT. Lately it seems as the program has been sued every week. It may, however, be in an investigative program’s nature to be well acquainted with the courthouse. The media has to be a democracy’s watchdog. In a more and more money-oriented media world, where big corporations rule, it’s important that journalists aren’t afraid to investigate and go after the big guns. This is not the most politically correct way to say the following, but sometimes you have to balance on the thin line between legal and illegal in order to catch the bad guy that would otherwise never be caught. It is, though, an important tradition that media serves the underdog. In this case, the producers probably viewed the case differently than the family and the Supreme Court. Or maybe they were just sloppy?

Programs like MOT have to provide scoops on a regular basis. This may cause problems. When you investigate with a deadline the story can sometimes become the Emperor’s New Clothes.

22.01.09 Sara Sundman

MOT’s earlier lawdisputes:

MOT accused curdes in Turku to have been active in a terrorist network

MOT accuses the Slovenian PM for taking bribes from finnish company Patria

MOT accuses finnish CEO for forbidding employees from talking to journalists

MOT is accused for slander

MOT gets a 1 million euro lawsuit for slander

MOT slander WHO

Other media:

Hbl: MOT fälldes för incestprogram

Uusi Suomi: radioclip

Uusi Suomi: Korkein oikeus antoi sakkoja MOT-ohjelmasta

Yle: Böter för Yles MOT-program

Yle: MOT-ohjelmalle sakkoja loukkaavasta tiedon levittämisestä

A radio program about the Council of Mass Media in Finland

Listen: Median itsesääntelyä neljä vuosikymmentä

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