News Now Finland, an independent news organisation providing original journalism in English from the country, launched in September after its co-founders noticed the established Finnish media outlets were scaling back their English-language programming.

David Mac Dougall, executive editor, News Now Finland, told he was "puzzled" by the decision of YLE, the Finnish national broadcaster, and Sanoma, owner of the widely read newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, to cut back on the content their were offering in English.

"We looked around and said that it's ridiculous that we are having less news in English at a time when Finland was celebrating its 100 anniversary of independence, and we have this rise in fake news, especially from Russia which is our next door neighbour here.

"This is a time to be doing more news in English and to be more transparent about where news comes from in this part of the world."

Mac Dougall and Janne Strang, senior editorial writer at News Now Finland, saw a gap in the market and self-funded the launch of the website, with a goal to finance it through advertising.

As well as providing news in English for both ex-pats living in Finland and the country's residents, who are avid news consumers, the site also plans to bring new voices into the Finnish media landscape by working with columnists from diverse backgrounds.

The editorial approach includes providing both translated newswire stories and original reporting. Translations have become a primary focus of the English language offering of YLE and other Finnish media, which Mac Dougall considers to be insufficient.

Neighbouring Russia, Finland has been a target of disinformation for a few years already, and its media has become adept at squashing false claims and rumours quickly. Media literacy efforts in schools also focus on teaching critical thinking and a questioning mindset.

News Now Finland is currently conducting the only English-language interviews with the country's presidential candidates, in partnership with commercial television channel MTV. The interviews started this week, with voting taking place on 28 January.

Mac Dougall explained the interviews serve the important role of assessing the candidates' English skills, as the Finnish presidents "are not just figureheads that are there to cut ribbons".

"There is a lot of ribbon cutting but they also have this foreign policy role. As soon as they step on a plane to leave Helsinki they basically have to perform in English.

"I've worked the last two election cycles, the parliamentary election in 2015 and the last presidential election in 2012, doing English language interviews with MTV, and we got together at the end of last year to look at how we could do something original that adds to the conversation."

Partnering with MTV offers News Now Finland the opportunity to interview the candidates and upload the videos to its site, as well as a promotional mention on air, in exchange for providing their expertise of English-language journalism as well as local knowledge. As a smaller organisation, the team would have found it difficult to line up interviews with all eight candidates.

"I think it's a strong way for smaller independent media companies, not just in Finland, to find that skill set that is uniquely theirs and see what they're lacking and how they can team up with bigger media houses for one-off projects."

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