Taming the Unknown: Journalism, Future and Social Reality
The study aims to investigate how the future has functioned as a point of reference in the news coverage of key moments of cultural and societal change in the post-war history of Finland. The future is a central dimension informing and framing decision-making and action at the present time. Fundamentally, there can be no knowledge of the future. The future must always be imagined, in one way or another. While both past and future are only accessible as representations in the present, for the future there is no conceivable referent outside discourse, which deems realist arguments concerning it unsuitable (although there may well be coherent realist arguments concerning the ideas, plans or attitudes about the future in the present or in the past) and thus makes the discursive struggle for the meaning of the future more manifest. In the study, journalism is considered both as a manifestation of the interpretative resources easily available at different times and as a specific kind of discourse approaching past, present and future in a certain way. From the former perspective, the study aims to write a cultural history of the future in the Finnish context. From the latter perspective the aim is to explore how the changing text forms of journalism and its changing position in society vis-à-vis other institutions also change the rules that regulate its approaches to the future. Empirically, the study consists of two case studies investigating the news coverage of key moments of cultural and societal change in Finland in the post-war era and three case studies exploring topics where the future has been an important dimension in informing and framing decision-making and action.