As I have written in an earlier blog post, there is only one opinion that is allowed in Sweden. The “7-party” (nickname for the seven different parties in the parliament, holding the same opinion on immigration) has no problem as regards how to propagate for this standpoint. The MPs have full support from the Swedish media. Both the press and the TV-channels support the official standpoint and do their utmost to function as the megaphone of the parliament.
How come that Swedish media is cringing to this degree before the authorities? First and foremost, there are the so-called Press Subsidies. This is a state subsidy available for newspapers. The aim is to promote diversity and competition among the daily newspapers. It is the Press Subsidies Council (Presstödsnämnden) that distributes the subsidies, which total fully 500 MSEK a year. This has been seriously criticized by the EU, that states that too high subsidies are given to two large city newspapers, that are granted three times more money that the smaller ones. The subsidy is not consistent with the EU competition regulations. Some debaters are by right critical and mean that this is the best way of the authorities to govern what to publish and above all what not to publish.
Secondly, there is another interesting Swedish phenomenon: the so-called Little Saltlake Bath Agreement (Lilla Saltsjöbadsavtalet, hereinafter LSBA). It contains just as incriminating details that the general public should not find out. The LSBA was established at the meeting of the Swedish Journalist Organisation (Svenska journalistförbundet) in Saltsjöbaden on 21 March 1987. The agreement clearly and explicitly decrees how news reporting where immigrants are involved must be performed.
“Especially point out and describe in a positive way Swedish citizens of foreign descent. Positively describe and bring out people of foreign origin. Bring out immigrants particularly as regards sporting and youth activities and cultural event. During a period of 5 years, systematically silence the negative effects, like pointing out a particular race in criminal activities, that can be the result for affected populations.”
This is probably the one and only agreement of this kind in the whole world, and the content of which aims at keeping the inhabitant unaware of what is going on. Just the fact that the agreement exists clearly shows that the journalists knew that they did something that they shouldn’t have done. Irrespective of the LSBA was a formal or an oral agreement, it still characterizes media’s (lack of) stating of the perpetrator’s ethnicity when describing crimes. Some weeks ago, I watched a discussion among certain journalists where they discussed the abolition of the LSBA. Now this video clip has disappeared from You Tube.
[Update! I got a tip from a reader that part of this video clip is embedded in this Swedish clip by Jan Milld. The discussion is to be found at the beginning of the clip.]
Another organisation for the journalists, The Swedish Publicist Organisation, has had a chairman, Jan Guillou, that once was a KGB agent. An intriguing piece of information, the source of which is the Swedish Journalist Organisation itself, is that 70% of the Swedish journalists vote Socialist, 30% non-Socialist. There are several theories why this is the case. But could this possibly influence the way news is angled in Sweden? An obvious lack of pluralism?
There are examples of the LSBA every day in Swedish media. Here are only two examples: Recently a young woman was raped in Karlstad. The newspapers omitted the rapist’s description since it could be racist to write it out. The newspapers apparently prefer to save their own reputation in the politically correct climate, instead of helping the police and the people to find the man. The newspapers also risked other women’s safety by omitting the rapist’s detailed description.
In Denmark a Somalian stabbed a female social worker to death. The Danish press mentioned the man’s nationality. The Swedish press did not. When asked why, the newspaper Aftonbladet stated that it is more democratic to conceal the truth. This shows a deep difference between the Danish and the Swedish press.
A few days ago, we were informed that Swedish newspapers’ editions are declining. Perhaps the newspapers have themselves to blame for this.
[Update 7 March 2010: There seems to exist a similar British inofficial agreement to be found here:
[Update 9 APril 2010: This link (in Swedish, though, indicates the proof of the existence of the Lilla Saltsjöbadsavtalet: