Jón Ásgeir Pressures 365 Journalists

22.2.2013
Words by Catharine Fulton
The business editor of Stöd 2 and Vísir has said publicly that 365 media founder and majority owner, as well as scandalized businessman, Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson has repeatedly attempted to put pressure on journalists at 365 by complaining to the board about coverage of him and his affairs.

Magnús Halldórsson wrote an editorial on Vísir in which he briefly outlined the numerous legal troubles and questionable wheelings and dealings of Jón Ásgeir, quipping at one point that perhaps the only two institutions in Iceland that Jón Ásgeir has not been entangled with are the state-owned Regional Development Institute and student funding organisation LÍN.

In discussing the media-owner‘s questionable business practices alongside his status at 365, Magnús notes that the affiliation casts a negative light on the credibility of 365 journalists. “It would be beneficial for the company and its employees to decide for Jón Ásgeir to separate himself from the company while his court cases are resolved. This is no small matter,” Magnús writes.

He continues “What’s worse is that Jón Ásgeir has, on several occasions, recently attempted in an unsavoury way to put pressure on journalists who report honestly on him, by lodging complaints with the board. Apparently Jón Ásgeir believes that this is normal practice, as it has repeatedly happened, but he should think twice about continuing to do so given that he is closely linked to the ownership of the company as his wife [Ingibjörg Pálmadóttir, pictured] is the largest owner and Chairman of the Board... Some would say he is a very little man to be using such methods.”

Other editors in 365 are not all in agreement with Magnús’ sentiments, RÚV reports. Ólafur Stephensen, editor of Fréttablaðið, praised Magnús’ article and acknowledged that Jón Ásgeir had tried to influence the way the newspaper (which is also owned by 365) had reported on him. However, the editor of Stöð 2, Freyr Einarsson, has said that he never received a complaint about the stations reporting on Jón Ásgeir, saying that Jón Ásgeir had simply gone to the board at times when he was not given opportunity to respond to articles being written about him. Freyr noted that Jón Ásgeir was considered a fair topic to be covered despite the position of himself or his wife.

Just as some question the credibility of news sources under the influence of a controversial figure like Jón Ásgeir, so too could the credibility of the competition be questioned. Daily newspaper Morgunblaðið hired Davið Oddson as its editor in 2009, very shortly after the career Independence Party politician had been ousted from his position as Governor of the Central Bank (a position he was gifted after 14 years of shaping the soon-to-collapse economy as Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs). Time Magazine named Davið one of “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.”



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