Government corrects misinformation about 4-day working week

Some media outlets have written corrections to their earlier stories, adding context. But many news organisations never bother to change their stories, even when they're wrong.

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File picture of Finnish coalition government's five party leaders, December 2019 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

The Finnish Government has had to issue a brief statement online, after a story about a supposed new policy went viral.

Hundreds of stories appeared in the international media on Monday and Tuesday saying that Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) had announced plans to introduce a six-hour day, and four-day working week.

Stories cropped up across Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA – and particularly in Britain – but were based partially on old comments the PM made in August at a Social Democrat Party event in Turku, before she became head of government.

The stories spread as journalists failed to do even basic fact checking on the stories. News Now Finland took a careful look at the origin of the claim, and how it spread around the world in recent days and you can read our original investigation at this link.

“In the Finnish Government’s program there is no mention about 4-day week” says the statement on Twitter, issued Tuesday afternoon.

“Issue is not on the Finnish Government’s agenda. PM @marinsanna envisioned idea briefly in a panel discussion last August while she was the Minister of Transport, and there hasn’t been any recent activity” the post on the official Finnish Government Twitter account stated.

A number of media outlets have since updated their reporting to clarify those earlier, inaccurate, stories, and to add context about where and when Marin’s comments were made.

Communications expert Fergus Bell, CEO of Fathm, a consultancy for the news industry with a specific focus on countering misinformation in media, says that often corrections or rebuttals come too late.

“If the misinformation is harmful then you should really attempt to address it as soon as possible. But always consider that the misinformation is likely to travel faster than the truth, so you are looking more at damage limitation rather than anything more effective” he says.

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