• Sweden's news in English

Journos slam sacking of new minister's sister

David Landes · 8 Oct 2010, 16:23

Published: 08 Oct 2010 16:23 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“It’s absurd that she should be punished because her sister got a better job,” K-G Bergström, another Sveriges Television (SVT) presenter, told the Expressen newspaper, after learning that fellow SVT presenter Karin Hübinette was going to lose her job.

“It’s well-intentioned of SVT to want to protect our impartiality, but they overreacted.”

Hübinette has been a presenter for SVT news programme Agenda since 2006.

The programme, broadcast every Sunday evening, features live in-depth interviews and debates with prominent newsmakers in order to, in the words of SVT “set the agenda” for the upcoming week’s hot topics for discussion.

Hübinette has also served as a host on the Aktuellt nightly news programme.

But the popular newscaster’s time in the presenter’s chair was brought to an abrupt end on Tuesday when her sister, Hillevi Engström, was named as the employment minister in Fredrik Reinfeldt’s new government.

Within hours of Engström’s appointment being made public, SVT announced that Hübinette was being removed from Aktuellt and Agenda.

In explaining the decision, SVT cited the potential conflict of interest that could occur if a journalist were required to interview a close relative. The broadcaster felt that there was too strong a likelihood that Hübinette’s journalistic integrity would be compromised should her sister be called in to be interviewed on the programme.

For her part, Hübinette took the sacking in stride.

“I understand the decision completely and I would have made the same decision if I had been my own boss. But I’d be lying if I said that it was fun,” she told the TT news agency following SVT’s announcement.

While Hübinette was happy for Engström, she admitted that her sister’s success had “dramatic consequences for my career”.

Speaking to the Aftonbladet newspaper, she described losing her job as a political journalist and presenter as “like a divorce; in a way SVT is done with me when it comes to this type of work.”

Several journalists have rushed to her defence, claiming that SVT was too hasty and too harsh in pulling Hübinette off her beat entirely.

Lena Mellin, deputy editor of Aftonbladet, argued that SVT “overreacted” by removing Hübinette.

“To get rid of Hübinette is like saying she is unprofessional. She is not,” wrote Mellin.

Mellin admitted that Hübinette shouldn’t interview her sister, but she pointed out that Sveriges Radio allowed reporter Cecilia Bodström to keep her job even though her brother Thomas had been appointed justice minister in a previous government.

“There is more than one way of handling siblings,” she wrote.

But the newpaper’s culture editor, Åsa Linderborg, defended SVT’s decision.

“Obviously no one should be held responsible for what a sibling says and does. But the possibility that I, as a television viewer, might suspect that a presenter for a news or society programme is related to a Moderate (or any other party) means that SVT can’t do anything else than reposition Karin Hübinette,” wrote Linderborg.

SVT’s Eva Landahl attempted to downplay the firestorm of criticism by writing in Aftonbladet “we’re not letting Karin Hübinette go”.

Story continues below…

“Karin and I are in complete agreement that it’s impossible for her to interview and look into her own sister. That creates practical problems for us,” she wrote.

“The programme is built around a few presenters and to always have a substitute, in case Hillevi Engström should need to be called into the studio on short notice, is simply not doable.”

Nevetheless, many members of Sweden’s journalist corps don’t fully agree with SVT’s handling of the situation.

“I don’t know what the reasoning was behind the scenes, but when it comes to preserving credibility, that’s the right principle,” Sydsvenskan daily editor Daniel Sandström told the Dagens Media newspaper.

“But the image I have of Karin Hübinette is that she could have probably handled the conflict of interest from the point of view of the viewer.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

20:20 October 8, 2010 by Syftfel
SVT's action should come as a suprise to no one. SVT has tradionally always been a vipers' nest of unforgiving socialism, and unbridled liberalism. They are now lashing out in revenge. They didn't take back government, and are attacking anything that smells of freedom and a new Sweden. They are no longer in charge and feel a need to flex their marxist muscle. Sweden would be better off if SVT simply ceased to exist, and was replaced by an organ that represented Sweden instead of one that tries to command it and tries to steer our opinions along a leninist-orthodox path. May SVT disappear into oblivion along with with the pathetic social dems.
23:26 October 8, 2010 by Toonie
Interesting. In the 80s in Sweden there were reports that a surprisingly large proportion of parliamentarians (particularly in the ruling party) were related to at least one other MP. Has that changed substantially? If not, sacking a single visible journalist because her sister has a job in government is cosmetic. Perhaps someone should chart any potentially nepotistic relationships within SVT and the media in general.
10:28 October 9, 2010 by RobinHood
Something seems to be rotten at the core of SVT's management. As Toonie has already said there dozens of SVT employees have connections with politicians. Aftonbladet is no doubt already making a wholesale review of relationships of any kind, (family, friend and marital), between SVT employees and politicians of any party. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the other goose; they will all have to go, or they will all have to stay. As it stands now, they all have to go.
14:47 October 9, 2010 by mikewhite
Come on TV4, how's your chance to get a decent journalist !

Give her a pay rise too !
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available