Saving the Last Finnish-language Newspaper in U.S.
Amerikan Uutiset is an 86-year-old Finnish-American newspaper published primarily in Finnish from Lake Worth, Florida. Amerikan Uutiset Editor-in-Chief Mikko Koskinen sheds light on the newspaper's future and past.
Amerikan Uutiset covers news from Finland and the United States. The first Amerikan Uutiset issue was published under the name Minnesotan Uutiset, Minnesota's News, in September 1932. Founders Carl Parta, a news press owner, and reporter Adolph Lundqvist aimed to create a politically unbiased newspaper for all of the Finnish-Americans living across the country.
As the flow of Finnish immigrants started to fade in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the readership base shrank significantly and the local immigrant press was faced with financial troubles.
"There used to be around 350 local Finnish newspapers in the U.S. back in the day, but when the immigration numbers decreased, papers started dropping out of business too," tells Mikko Koskinen, the current Editor-in-Chief of Amerikan Uutiset.
A number of these Finnish immigrant newspapers were integrated to Amerikan Uutiset to strengthen the readership of the paper. In 1965, the name was changed to Amerikan Uutiset with a goal of making it a national newspaper, read all across the United States.
In 1986, Amerikan Uutiset moved to Southern Florida where a large concentration of Finns had formed. The main office is located in Lake Worth, where the paper is printed to be published every other week.
The Man Behind the News
Koskinen himself is a news reporter trained at the University of Helsinki, Finland. After a career in journalism, he has also worked in the advertising industry. Now he is combining his talent from both worlds with Amerikan Uutiset, writing news and contacting various companies in order to fill advertising space.
"The attracting factor for our readership is that we publish content in Finnish about topics important for Finns and Finnish-Americans. We cover economy, culture and sports news and religious matters. The paper also features local news about South Florida, with some articles in English," Koskinen explains.
Helping the readership keep up their language skills through generations is a big reason why Amerikan Uutiset still publishes content in Finnish. "We have language learning campaigns all the time. Subscribe, and you won't lose your Finnish skills!" Koskinen laughs.
In the early 2000s, Koskinen heard of the financial troubles the newspaper publishers were facing and decided to embark on a journey to save Amerikan Uutiset.
"When the paper hadn't been published for several months, I think someone from Minnesota wrote that it felt like a relative had passed away since Amerikan Uutiset doesn't exist anymore."
The emotional feedback hit home for Koskinen.
"If there is any way I can keep this newspaper running financial wise, I shall try my hardest. Amerikan Uutiset is a vital publication especially for that generation of Finnish-Americans who moved here around the 50s and 60s," Koskinen states.
Competing with Online News and Social Media
In the internet era, having captivating content is crucial. "We can compete with online news with the help of our volunteer columnists, who like to write stories for us," Koskinen says.
"We have yet to find a Sorcerer's Stone for transitioning Amerikan Uutiset online," Koskinen sighs and says that social and online media do not bring enough ad revenue for small businesses.
"Our main readership is not online, they like to read their news from an actual piece of paper. Besides, a newspaper always has an Editor-in-Chief who takes the responsibility of what is being said on their platform – that is not the case on social media sites."
Koskinen wants to thank the loyal subscribers and companies supporting the newspaper with their advertisements.
"Our subscriber base is shrinking because there is no influx of Finns immigrating to the States. Nevertheless, the biggest thank you goes to our readers, who keep on reading Amerikan Uutiset until they lose their eyesight!" Koskinen exclaims. "Our business contacts are very important. I have to thank especially Ponsse, who keeps on renewing their advertisement purchase. We are grateful for that."
Nowadays Amerikan Uutiset has subscribers in every state in the United States, also in Canada and in Finland. "I really hope I could see the newspaper reach its 100th birthday. I will try to keep Amerikan Uutiset running as long as there are subscribers and advertisers."
Want to support Amerikan Uutiset? You can subsribe here: Amerikan Uutiset -website