The results of a survey of journalists in Iceland show that while the vast majority believe in objectivity and reporting all the facts of a story, 8 out of 10 reportedly engage in “self-censorship”.
The survey (.pdf file) found that the typical male Icelandic journalist was in his 40s with about 14 years experience in the business, while the typical female Icelandic journalist was about six years younger and with six years less experience. However, the wage differences between the two was considered not significant.
Guðbjörg Hildur Kolbeinsdóttir, who has a PhD in media studies, found that 97% of Icelandic journalists consider it important to report things as they are, while 88% considered it important to be able to, in addition to this, explain for readers the details of an incident being reported. Interestingly, only 77% contended that neutrality was crucial to reporting.
At the same time, a small minority – 0.5% – believed it was important to portray political leaders in a positive light.
While 65-72% believed that advertisers and corporate owners of media outlets had little to no influence on their reporting, about 80% reportedly engaged in self-censorship of content. Guðbjörg said that she considered this fact intriguing, and believed it requires further research to see what encourages self-censorship in reporting.
Overall, the greatest influences on how a story is reported, the journalists in the survey said, were financial resources, the amount of time allowed for research, access to information, and ethical guidelines. At the same time, 90% said they considered ethical guidelines very important to journalism.