Published November 15, 2012
A factually inaccurate article about Iceland published by USA Today has appeared to have had a rippling effect through the international media.
As reported, last September a promotional campaign conducted by Promote Iceland through the Inspired By Iceland homepage asked tourists to come up with a new name for Iceland. While this caused a temporary stir in the Icelandic media that this might be a serious campaign, Promote Iceland was quick to emphasise that this was just a fun project.
Project managers have repeated stated – in the Icelandic-language media and in the Grapevine – that this was in no way an official campaign, but rather an amusing exercise to get tourists to think about what Iceland means to them. Nonetheless, USA Today published a factually inaccurate article contending that Iceland is officially seeking to change its name as a form of post-financial crash re-branding.
The article’s author, Halldór Bachmann, has maintained that USA Today changed his article to have the inaccurate implications that it now contains. Despite this article being thoroughly debunked, it still remains on the USA Today site without correction. It would now appear as though the article’s misconceptions are spreading.
While the Guardian has gotten it right in saying “Iceland’s tourism agency launched a lighthearted contest”, the Huffington Post heavily implies that the name-change campaign is an earnest effort, adding, “The government of the island nation, which weathered a financial collapse that led to the downfall of its leaders after a grassroots revolt, is under no obligation to change the country’s name. But if it does, there is plenty of precedent.”
Investor Place has managed to get it utterly wrong, saying that “the government of Iceland has decided that rebranding the island nation might be in order”. The Dakotas-based Wadena Pioneer Journal has made the same contention.
All of these articles cite the initial USA Today article for their reporting.
How long it will take for USA Today to get around to issuing a correction – despite multiple comments from many Icelanders left under their initial, unchanged and inaccurate article – remains to be seen.