The Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development (known by its Finnish acronym VIKES) was set up by 26 Finnish communications entities in 2005. It is a foundation for development cooperation, intended to promote freedom of expression and the pluralism of media as a basis for democracy and social development. VIKES was established on the initiative of the Union of Journalists in Finland, and brings together the whole Finnish journalistic profession.
By 2013, projects have been carried out by freelance and volunteer work in over 20 countries.
The main backer for the projects has been the Foreign Ministry in Finland. The 15% self-funding component of most of the projects has come from the Union of Journalists solidarity fund, for which the union invests 0.7% of the income from membership payments. Other major donors have been the Finnish Broadcasting Company and a number of member associations of the Union of Journalists.
Freedom of expression, independent media and citizens’ right to communication are essential parts of the global development agenda. Transparency and openness are basic conditions of development. We cannot speak about functional democracy unless the citizens have the right and opportunity to receive information. Independent and professional media have a central role in furthering economic and democratic development in developing countries.
VIKES’ projects in 2013
Vikes is providing training for young Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists in the conflict-ridden area of Caucasus. The joint project of Vikes and Georgian media organization Go Group Media initiates journalists into the international standards of journalism by setting up workshops, where journalist from different countries work together and get to know each other. The goal of the project is to reduce tensions in the South Caucasus by supporting to build an independent regional network of journalists, associated media and NGO’s. Vikes’ project Caucasus Authors Course (CAC school) in 2014 is coordinated by Jarmo Koponen.
Within the Youth Media Forum project Vikes is teaching media skills for Palestinian youngsters between the ages of 14‒26. In the media camps young Palestinians learn to produce content for television, radio and the Internet. The aim of the project is to prevent social exclusion by empowering youth to civic activism and social participation in their communities. The project is coordinated by Eila Hannula.
In Nepal Vikes initiates journalists into the methods of investigative journalism. Every year around 50 journalists take part in the courses, where they work on stories about peace-building and democratization. The articles produced in the training are published in the Nepalese and international media, and the best ones will be compiled into a book. The aim of the project is to support democratization, peace-building and good governance in Nepal by improving the professional skills of local journalists.
Vikes organizes training courses in environmental journalism for Nigerian journalists together with its local partner Environmental Rights Action association. The training covers wide range of topics such as environmental challenges and environmental laws in Nigeria as well as gender issues and investigative journalism. The aim of the training is to deepen Nigerian journalists’ knowledge of environmental issues, enhance networking among environmental journalists and broaden the freedom of expression in environmental questions. The project is coordinated by Peik Johansson.
In Kenya Vikes puts up a Story Tent that gives a voice to the poor and most vulnerable people. The Story Tent project provides training for local filmmakers and media workers in running Story Tents. The Story Tent is a movable studio, which can be taken to the places where ordinary people live and work. In the Story Tent they are able to tell their story. The stories produced in the tent will be distributed both in the local and international media. The purpose of the project is to provoke discussion about democracy, human rights, access to education, gender issues and environment through people’s personal stories. The project is coordinated by Iikka Vehkalahti.
Vikes is supporting an independent Yangon film school that educates young documentary filmmakers. Myanmar lacks professional training in documentary filming, and the aim of the project is to strengthen the civil society by creating an active and trained group of documentarists in the country.
In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan VIKES is supporting trade union building among journalists. The aim of the project is to help our local partners to support the restart of the union or create a new one.
Danske Bank FI5980001271022130 BIC(SWIFT) DABAFIHH Fundraising permit: 2020/201/3372
Vikes Siltasaarenkatu 16, 7th floor 00530 Helsinki, Finland
English translation: Jenni Jeskanen