Published August 30, 2013
In our last issue we ran a story that stirred up a lot of attention on our site and in the Icelandic media. It was called “Twenty Thousand ISK Gets You An Illegal Strip Dance,” and recounted the story of how we discovered this to be the case at a club in downtown Reykjavík.
In short, we went to a champagne club called VIP on Austurstræti, asked to see their ‘menu’, purchased something called “15 minutes of private time” for 20,000 ISK, followed one of their female employees upstairs to a booth and—five minutes later, received a nude strip dance.
It has been illegal in Iceland since 2010 for businesses to promote or in any way profit from the nudity of staff or others present. Yet with the opening of two new champagne clubs in the city this summer, there has been some discussion in the media about whether men are only frequenting these clubs in order to buy expensive bottles of champagne and have pleasant conversations with the staff.
Prior to the publication of our piece, one of Iceland’s main dailies sent a couple of journalists to investigate these clubs, but the story it ran amounted to little more than ‘he said/she said’ speculation. It also resulted in one of the club’s lawyers threatening them with a defamation suit.
While it was refreshing to see evidence of Icelandic journalists leaving their desks to work on a story rather than just making calls for reaction quotes to a press release, it seems their efforts fell short for one reason or the other.
Why did it take a low-budget tourist rag like The Reykjavík Grapevine to bring forth little more than the cold hard facts? Is there any such thing as real investigative journalism in Iceland?
According to the report delivered to parliament by the Special Investigation Commission following Iceland’s financial meltdown in 2008, Iceland’s media largely failed to fulfill its duty as the so-called fourth estate as our banks grew to ten times the country’s GDP.
Now, five years later, it seems to me that the media is still in pretty lousy shape. This may be one small example, but it points to a bigger problem that needs to be discussed (see also “So What’s This Censorship Of Icelandic State Media I Keep Hearing About?” on page 8).