Annual Report 2021




1 January – 31 December 2021


The primary purpose of the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is to secure the future of Finnish media and quality journalism, as well as to support freedom of speech.

The Foundation may also support other research and various initiatives of importance for the wellbeing, development or international standing of Finnish society. The Foundation may also organize competitions related to its operations.

The Foundation maintains the Päivälehti Museum and the Päivälehti Archives.

The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation was established in December 2005 and 2021 was its 16th year of operation.

The Foundation’s operations were affected by the corona pandemic, which continued for a second year. The Päivälehti Museum and Päivälehti Archives had to remain closed from November 2020 until the end of January 2021, but the Archives served customers online during the closure. The Museum had to limit visitor numbers throughout the year. In addition, many events were cancelled or moved to an online environment.


The Foundation fulfils its mission by awarding grants to research and training projects related to the media industry, competitions in the field and to various freedom-of-speech initiatives.

The Foundation provides the public with free admission to exhibitions on the history and future of media and contemporary media held in the Päivälehti Museum. The Foundation also records documents, photographic materials and literature related to the operations of the Sanoma Group, Lehtikuva Picture Agency and their founders in the Päivälehti Archives. The materials are actively made available for the use of researchers, the media, collective memory and cultural organizations.

The Board of Trustees decides each year the amount to be spent on implementing the Foundation’s purpose. In 2021, the Board of Trustees earmarked €2 million for grants and almost €0.5 million for the ordinary activities of the Museum and Archives.



The Foundation processed 83 grant applications in 2021 (2020: 98) amounting to a total of €9,788,642 (€10,201,935). Grants were awarded totalling €1,924,000 (€1,562,490) and fellowships totalling €347,158 (€290,271), making a total of €2,271,158 (€1,852,761). A total of 20 (22) projects were supported, with fellowships being determined as one project. Grants returned, revoked or adjusted amounted to €151,188 (€118,500). Grants recognized as costs in the income statement include tuition fees and exchange rate differences.

Applicants for grants were informed in person and the names of grantees were published on the Foundation’s website. The final reports of the grantees’ research projects are also published on the website.

During its years of operation, 2006-2021, the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has awarded a total of €46,162,230 for a total of 391 projects. Grants totalling €1,232,687 have been cancelled during the years of operation.

During the year of operations, the Foundation switched to a two-phase call for applications. In the first phase, applicants are invited to submit concept paper of a maximum of three pages in which the applicant briefly presents the research plan, the methods used in the research, the research team and the preliminary budget. The Working Committee selects the most promising projects from the concept papers to proceed to the second phase. The call for applications in the second phase includes a more detailed research plan, budget and other key appendices.

The two-phase call for applications is intended to make the grant process more flexible and to make it easier for the applicants.

Direct call for applications: How does the media work in a time of major crisis?

In the Foundation’s direct call for applications in 2021, researchers were invited to submit applications relating to communications and journalism in a time of crisis. The call for applications specified that research projects could involve various crises such as accidents, sudden natural or social turmoil or other emergency situations.

The call for applications was a two-phase one. Based on the first phase concept papers, the five most promising projects were selected for the second phase. Those selected (for the follow-up) were interviewed and offered support to make their application for the second phase. In September, the Board of Trustees granted funding for four projects:

The Covid-19: local crisis information and news ecosystem project headed by Professor Jaana Hujanen received a grant of €196,000. The project is being carried out jointly by the Universities of Helsinki, Turku and Tampere.

The Comprehensible, inclusive, equal? Accessibility of Easy Finnish journalism and public communication during the Covid-19 pandemic study at the University of Helsinki received a grant of €190,000. The project is headed by Mikko T. Virtanen PhD.

The How political crises polarize: the role of news media in aligned opinion networks study headed by Antti Gronow DSSc at the University of Helsinki was awarded a grant of €175,000.

The impact of crisis communication on risk perceptions and political trust in the hybrid media environment project received a grant of €100,000. The study is headed by university lecturer Aki Koivula DSSc at the University of Turku.

Competitions and awards

The Award for Development Journalism, established by the Foundation together with the Finnish Red Cross, the Finnish Foundation for Media and Development VIKES and the Union of Journalists in Finland, was awarded for the first time. The competition theme was global migration and immigration. The €3,000 prize was awarded in January to Taina Tervonen for her article Kadonneiden laiva (The Ship of the Lost), which was published in Image magazine.

The Uutisraivaaja media innovation competition was launched for the sixth time. The competition sought socially significant and topical journalistic projects that apply new technologies. As in earlier competitions, the goal was to reform journalism and communication, and to seek new ways of doing journalism. The Foundation had earmarked €250,000 for the competition, with maximum funding of €30,000 for any single project.

Funding was awarded to five projects:

To, which organizes stories on architecture delivered as virtual tours; to Project Caverna, which deals with fake news in a new way; to Long Play’s algorithm newsroom, which studies algorithm function and accountability; to the Mono No Aware project, and its virtual reality documentary about the abandoned villages and towns inside the zone of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident; and to 4minread Lahti – Modern Age for Local Media, for which a new digital, newsletter type local publication was set up in a pilot project in the Lahti economic area. The funding beneficiaries report on the progress of their projects in the Uutisraivaaja blog.

At the end of the year, the Foundation established the Ilkka Malmberg Prize for Journalistic Writing. The prize will be awarded to a writer who works as a journalist and who has demonstrated special skills and understanding of the excellent Finnish language and writing in his or her texts. Awarded annually, the prize money is €10,000 and will be awarded for the first time in autumn 2022.

Freedom-of-speech projects

The Foundation continued cooperation with the International Press Institute (IPI). Supported by the Foundation during 2021, two Finnish students worked for six months at the IPI head office in Vienna, Austria. The internship seeks to offer young media students an opportunity to learn about the state of freedom of the press in different countries. Since 2017, when the programme launched, a total of eight Finnish students have had internships at IPI.

The Foundation continued to support the international UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The 2021 prize was awarded to Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, co-founder of the online news site Rappler. The prize is USD 25,000 and the Helsinki Sanomat Foundation has supported the prize since 2013.

The Foundation supported the internship programme for young reporters in Telex, an independent Hungarian news portal, with a grant of €28,000.

Other grants

The Foundation marked the 250th anniversary of the Finnish press by awarding a grant of €280,000 to the National Library of Finland for the digitization of the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat. Digitization covers the newspapers from the mid-1940s to the end of 1979. The digitalized material will be made available free of charge to researchers and citizens in the service at the National Library and in other legal deposit libraries.

Four large, more than €100,000, research grants were awarded: The Power of Numbers: Quantification as a form of epistemic governance in politics and media (NuVo) project headed by Docent Hanna Ylöstalo at the University of Turku received a grant of €190,000. The Short-form videos as young Finns’ news source project headed by Professor Tanja Sihvonen at the University of Vaasa received a grant of €145,000. The Voluntary exclusion from social media as experienced by four very different non-user groups headed by Associate Professor Karoliina Talvitie-Lamberg at the University of Jyväskylä received a grant of €120,000. Likewise at the University of Jyväskylä, the Immigrant families as consumers of news and media project headed by Associate Professor Marko Siitonen received a grant of €110,000. Reetta Hänninen PhD was awarded a grant of €100,000 to write a biography (based on research) of Tekla Hultin (1864–1943), who worked at Päivälehti and was the first female journalist in Finland.

During the year under review, the Foundation awarded a grant of €59,000 to Tampere University to establish an education programme in data journalism in the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences. Data journalism has not been earlier widely taught in Finland and there was an obvious need for education.

In addition, the Foundation awarded grants to seven other projects.


The Foundation’s fellowship programme aims to develop the professional skills and capabilities of journalists and to support quality Finnish journalism and the success of Finnish media.

The fellowships are intended for journalists midway through their career. Applicants must have at least five years of experience of a journalist’s work. Applicants selected must represent a variety of different media; however, also freelance journalists may be selected. Efforts are made to select applicants from different parts of Finland.

During the academic year 2020–2021, the Foundation’s journalist fellows studied in Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin), Oxford (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism), Los Angeles (USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism), Århus (Constructive Institute) and at the European University in St Petersburg.

A total of 159 journalists have received the Foundation’s fellowship since the fellowship programme was established in 2008.

Autumn 2021 saw the launch of applications for journalist fellowships for the 2022-2023 academic year and a total of 14 applications were received (10 in 2020).


The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation operates out of rented premises at Korkeavuorenkatu 28 and Ludviginkatu 2-4 in Helsinki. The Päivälehti Museum was open to the public daily from 11am to 5pm, except in January 2021 when the Museum was closed due to the coronavirus situation. There was limited admission for groups during the year. Temporary closure of the Museum and the general coronavirus situation had a major impact both on total visitor numbers (around 25,000) and on group visits (86). Work demonstrations in the Printing cellar were suspended throughout the year. However, the Museum offered various digital programmes such as videos, remote tours and openings.

Similarly, the researcher room at the Päivälehti Archives was closed from 1 February – 30 April and customers were served by agreement. A total of 174 (341) researchers visited the researcher room during the year and 352 (429) other requests for information were dealt with. Customers were encouraged to communicate electronically by removing information service fees for smaller orders and by publishing plenty of new materials in the electronic archive.


The Foundation organizes media-themed events at the Päivälehti Museum. These events aim to promote social discussion, the visibility of science and the networking of journalists and researchers. In addition, the Foundation makes the Päivälehti Museum’s premises available free of charge to media industry actors and non-profit organizations. The coronavirus pandemic meant that many events had to be cancelled or moved to an online environment.

The Night of Science took place on 14 January. The evening provided a glimpse into the cultural history of Finnish esotericism. The event also opened an exhibition Uuden ja salaperäisen edessä – kirjailijat ja esoteria modernisoituvassa Suomessa (Facing the new and mysterious – writers and esoterics in a modernising Finland).

Three seminars relating to research projects funded by the Foundation took place during the year.

A seminar on The Politics of Conspiracy Theories (SAPO) research project took place on Friday 5 February and was streamed on the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation’s YouTube channel. Associate professors Katja Valaskivi and Johanna Sumiala presented the research. The project had received a grant of €100,000 from the Foundation in autumn 2019.

A webinar presenting the results of the Student Magazines 2020 research project took place on Tuesday 18 May. Pasi Kivioja DSSc and Otto Aalto MA, MBA told about the project results. The project had received a grant of €81,500 from the Foundation in spring 2020.

The four projects receiving grants in the Media and journalism – the same playing field but different rules direct call for applications in the 2020 presented their initial results in a seminar taking place on 28 October. The event, in which a panel of experts discussed the boundaries of communication and journalism, was held in the Museum auditorium and was also webcast. The event was part of the Year of Research-Based Knowledge programme.

An exhibition marking 70 years of Lehtikuva Picture Agency/Finnish News Agency STT opened on 4 November. The coronavirus situation meant that it was not possible to arrange on-site openings of other exhibitions at the Päivälehti Museum.

In November, Project Caverna, which had received funding in the Uutisraivaaja media innovation competition, held five workshops for ninth graders in the auditorium. In the workshops, the pupils discussed among other things dis- and mis-information as well as the effects of lies and half-truths based on documentaries made by the project. More than 100 pupils and their teachers took part in workshops.

On 16 November, Päivälehti Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary. The event was opened by Pekka Sauri, Chairman of Board of the Finnish Museums Association.

The Meme seminar held at the Päivälehti Museum on 17 November discussed memes from the perspective of their creators, experts and researchers. The seminar was held in cooperation with Tampere University’s MEMEPOL project.

The Päivälehti Museum and the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS) held a bilingual seminar, Tidningen som tidsspegel – Lehti aikansa kuvana (The newspaper as a mirror of its time), in the Museum’s library on 18 November. The event discussed the history of newspapers and press historical research and was streamed.

On 13 December, the Päivälehti Museum and the Central Association of Finnish Pensioners held the first of three Verkosta virtaa (Power from the net) media education events. These events aim at guiding people aged over 65 how to use computers, computer networks and electronic services.


The coronavirus and its ensuing restrictions affected Päivälehti Museum visitor numbers, which totalled just under 25,000 during the year.

All of the five exhibitions at the Museum during the year were produced by the Foundation. Two exhibitions prepared in January were not able to open to the public until February once the corona lockdown had been lifted: the Uuden ja salaperäisen edessä (Facing the new and mysterious) exhibition (14 January – 12 September 2021) considered the relationship of Finnish writers to the esoteric flows of their time. The Seekers of the New Research Project headed by Maarit Leskelä-Kärki PhD acted as the exhibition partner, architect and scriptwriter.

Assembled from Japanese art book dealer Sumio Yamazaki’s collection, the NISHIKIE SHIMBUN – The Most Exciting News Prints from the Japanese Meiji Period exhibition was on display at the same time, 19 January – 4 April 2021. The main exhibition of the year was held 23 April – 24 October and celebrated the 70th anniversary of Aku Ankka (Donald Duck) magazine and reminded people of the importance of literacy. The year under review also saw 70 years of the Lehtikuva Picture Agency. The photographs in the Aitiopaikalla (Front-row seat) exhibition, 5 November 2021 6 February 2022 were chosen together with two Helsinki upper secondary school pupils. Together with Helsingin Sanomat News for children, the Museum also held an exhibition on 18 31 October of drawings done by children on the theme of coronavirus.


The most significant events during the year were the receipt of Aamulehti’s archive and object collections and the Kirjapainon juuret collection comprising WSOY artefacts.

A total of 46 (35) donations of material, of which 4 (1) were donations of digital material, were received during the year. At year-end 2021, there were a total of 3,425.5 (2020: 3,347.5) shelf metres of physical archive materials and 6.1 (6) terabytes of digital materials. A total of 63 (70) shelf metres of analogue archive materials were arranged during 2021. Arrangement focused particularly on the Sanoma magazine and Aamulehti archives. The year also saw the digitization of Rafael Rindell’s drawings collection, the preparation of Oki Räisänen’s drawings collection for digitization and the publishing of various materials digitized earlier. Historical interviews with former Sanoma employees continued with interviews of former Board members and 5 (6) interviews were completed.

Nine donations were made to the object collections. The collection now has around 6,000 objects, of which 4,036 (3,148) have been catalogued. The photograph collection contains around 25,000 photographs of which 16,400 had been digitized by the end of the year. There were no changes to the art collection. In national TAKO cooperation, the Päivälehti Museum is responsible for the preservation of artefacts and traditions relating to technical newspaper publishing operations.


The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation’s expense deficit from ordinary operations costs was €4,164,207 (2020: €3,774,276), of which grants and journalist fellowships accounted for €2,069,727 (€1,734,260). During the accounting period, €604,374 (€607,983) was paid in wages and salaries. The surplus for the accounting period was €19,769,432 (€2,068,440). The Foundation’s deferred liabilities amounted to €2,866,849 (€2,953,139), of which unpaid grants and fellowships accounted for €2,780,364 (€2,626,971).

The earlier part of the year was characterised by strong positive development in the equity markets. Robust economic recovery, advances in vaccination programmes and the gradual opening up of economies created faith in a return to normal. Good earnings performance by companies boosted the positive trend in stock prices. The exception was China, where administration measures to limit the operations of technology companies resulted in negative stock price development. International investors reduced their stakes in Chinese companies. Upward interest rates in the USA resulted in a sharp shift from high-value technology-weighted stocks to value stocks.

A strong correction was seen in the early autumn when supply chain bottlenecks and rising inflation darkened sentiment. Prices recovered at the end of the year as companies’ third-quarter earnings exceeded market expectations. Overall, the year turned out to be one of the best in recent years for equity investors.

The Foundation’s related parties include the members and deputy members of the Board of Trustees, the members of the Finance Committee, the President, Vice President/Director of the Päivälehti Museum, the Director of the Päivälehti Archives and the auditors, including their family members and any organizations and foundations controlled by them. The attendance fees paid to the members of the Board of Trustees, the Working Committee and Finance Committee during the year amounted to €15,200. Attendance fees are paid for each meeting to those members present only. The Board of Trustees deems the fees to be in line with general practice taking into account the duties of the members of the Board and committees and the time and expertise required. In addition, fees of €215,325 were paid to the Foundation’s President and Vice-President who are related parties. The auditors were paid based on invoice. During the year under review, the Foundation had no other related-party transactions. The Foundation received no subsidies or grants during the year under review.

Income from investment and financial activities was €6,167,151 (2020: €5,729,128). Profit shares from investment funds were €2,173,738 (€2,515,274), proceeds from securities sold were €771,867 (€0) and dividend income was €3,038,971 (€3,111,247). The deficit from investment and financial activities was €23,933,369 (+€5,842,716). Changes in the value of investments were €19,899,089 (€29,499,219). The unrealized changes in the value of direct investments in equities were recognized in the fair value reserve, where cumulative changes in value totalled -€15,407,315 (-€17,526,413). The change in the value of Sanoma Corporation was around -€564,188 compared to the previous year. At the turn of the year, the market value of the Foundation’s assets was €174 million (€152 million). Equity investments accounted for 95.8% (92.9%) and fixed-income investments for 4.2% (7.1%) of the assets. Sanoma shares accounted for 36.9% (42.5%) of total assets.

There were no material changes in asset allocation during the year under review. The total return on the portfolio was 17.4% (24.49%). The return was 0.0% (0.20%) on investments in the money market, 2.7% (52.65%) on Sanoma shares, 27.6% (7.43%) on other direct investments in equities and 31.2% (5.41%) on equity funds. As in earlier years, the return on investments was exceptionally good. Whereas the return on the Sanoma share was modest, it should be remembered that the return was exceptionally high (53%) a year earlier. When evaluating the result, it should be borne in mind that the Foundation’s annual returns may fluctuate significantly due to the high equity allocation. Volatility does not significantly affect the Foundation’s operations.

Accounting and cash management services for the Foundation were provided by Balance-Team Ltd.


The main objective of financial activities is to preserve and grow the real value of the assets over the long term. The Foundation’s investment activities aim also for a steady cash flow and adequate liquidity to ensure the continuity of ordinary operations. Given the long-term investment horizon, the investment strategy is based on a high equity allocation (equity allocation was 95.8% at year-end) and the investment portfolio is normally not hedged. Short-term movements in prices are of no relevance to the Foundation since the Foundation strives for good long-term real returns and a good cash flow. In accordance with the investment strategy, the investments are well diversified by geography, sector, company and currency. The investments are mainly in liquid securities and funds, which can quickly be converted into cash. This means the Foundation has a low funding and liquidity risk. Domestic and international economic development has a significant impact on the Foundation’s investments. The main risk in investment activities is the general market risk, in other words the long-term performance of the international equity markets and dividend levels. In addition, Sanoma Corporation shares account for 36.9% (42.5%) of the Foundation’s assets and thus constitute the largest single risk exposure. The Board of Trustees has adopted a separate plan with regard to the Sanoma risk. Assets have been managed and investments made in line with the investment policy adopted by the Board of Trustees and matters concerning investment activities have been discussed in the Foundation’s Finance Committee.


The Foundation invests its assets responsibly and when making investment decisions takes into consideration financial aspects as well as environmental, social responsibility and good governance perspectives.

Through its grant policy, the Foundation seeks to support the fair and equitable remuneration of researchers. Most of the research grants awarded by the Foundation are paid to universities and grants also include social security costs.

The Foundation’s exhibition activities take into account the principles of sustainability by choosing ecological materials and by recommending recycling. Going forward, Museum and Archive modernisation will ensure better access to the premises and the availability of services. All the services provided by the Museum are free of charge to the public.


The Foundation has earmarked €2 million for grants and journalist fellowships in 2022. Calls for grant applications for grants will be a two-phase process. One direct call will be made during the year.

The Päivälehti Museum exhibition premises will undergo complete refurbishment by autumn 2023. Refurbishment started in January 2022 with a working group selected from Aalto University students. More partners are being sought. The project will involve combining the museum and archives premises. A total of €500,000 has been earmarked for the refurbishment project, which began in 2021 .

The war between Russia and Ukraine which broke out in late February and the ensuing sanctions and counter sanctions have significantly fuelled volatility and general uncertainty on the finance markets. Short term fluctuations in the prices of equities have no impact on the Foundation’s activities. If the crisis becomes protracted and widens, sanctions and counter sanctions could hit economic development and corporate earnings and this could in turn adversely affect the Foundation’s operating conditions.

Download the Income Statement 2021 (PDF) »

Download the Balance sheet 2021 (PDF) »