Published July 18, 2014
Anna’s 45th Editorial
As we were accenting the í’s and crossing the ð’s of our annual ‘Best of Reykjavík’ issue, a Facebook friend of Reykjavík Grapevine’s threw a bit of criticism our way that absolutely bears mention and further discussion.
In response to one of the many “what’s the best X” in Reykjavík inquiries we posted last week, specifically one regarding sushi (“Have you been to Sushisamba? Is it the best sushi in Reykjavík? Why/why not?”), one of our FB friends wrote the following: “This is getting quite boring. I remember the days when RG was full of interesting articles on social issues and music, now it’s just a whore for the tourism industry (‘have u done this, have u been there’ etc. which is advertising in disguise). :þ”
It turns out he suspected that the sushi question and others that preceded it were merely veiled advertisements for the various restaurants and bars around town—that we had decided to forego publishing interesting articles about music and social issues in lieu of pay-for advertorials and Facebook statuses.
He went on to retract this comment after we explained that we were just doing a bit of research for our annual BEST OF REYKJAVÍK issue, as we have every year since 2009. However, the sentiment he voiced with regards to Iceland’s tourism boom seems to be a fast growing concern among some locals. As the tourism season reaches its apex, one often gets the sense that we Icelanders are conjuring up yet another bubble, that we are becoming tangled in a sort-of tourism Gold Rush frenzy. Thus, one can’t help but imagine that our BEST OF REYKJAVÍK issue might be perceived differently by healthy sceptics today than it was just five years ago. The slow but certain erosion of morals that such bubbles inevitably bring—coupled with our very recent experience of life within a bubble—furthermore explains why some might construe the Facebook post in question as a paid endorsement.
Not only that but the increasingly blurred lines between advertisements and editorial content in the current media landscape admittedly do not give the public a lot of reason to have faith in their media and its honesty. Indeed, whether it’s the result of a tourism Gold Rush or not, brazenly selling ads disguised as editorial content is apparently standard practice. Why just this last week we got an email from a local publication with their advertising rates, including an offer to buy an article about our company to be marked as ‘umfjöllun’ (“discussion”) for the low low price of 34,000 ISK (with a gratuitous Facebook and Twitter post).
Do know: we have never sold content, and we never will. None of our articles are pay-for, and our sales team has no dominion over editorial content (all we do over here in editorial is make those poor guys’ lives extra hard). As we state in our magazine masthead, “You may not like it, but at least it’s not sponsored (no articles in the Reykjavík Grapevine are pay-for articles. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own, not the advertisers).
Finally, despite the fact that tourists read us—after all we are an English language magazine in Iceland—we don’t actually think very much about that when putting together an issue, aside from striving to provide context for the unacquainted reader. It didn’t come up in any of our heated discussions about best hamburgers, pizza and swimming pools either—not even about the ‘Best Day Trip From Reykjavík.’ It admittedly tickles me a little to think that we might be sending tourists all the way to Mjódd to go to the movies, but the places and things we picked are what we—those of us who live in this city—genuinely think are the best.
In fact, this issue is about celebrating all of the things that we love, the things that make life in this city so great. It’s perhaps the one issue of the year that is free from any kind of negativity (except for my editorial this time! Sorry!). Like usual, we had a lot of fun putting this together, and we hope it proves useful and that you maybe even discover somewhere or something new and exciting.