Vefpressan hires Eggert Skúlason and Kolbrún Bergþórsdóttir as joint editors-in-chief
Hallgrímur Thorsteinsson has been discharged as DV’s editor-in-chief. Journalist and literary critic Kolbrún Bergþórsdóttir and TV-anchor-cum-PR-manager Eggert Skúlason have been hired in Hallgrímur’s place. Hörður Ægisson will be its business editor. All three will co-edit DV’s web medium, dv.is. Publication will be halted until January 9, when various changes will be announced.
This was reported by various media on Tuesday. At least three of DV’s journalists were discharged along with Hallgrímur. Hallgrímur took on the role of the paper’s chief editor early September. He will reportedly take on other duties within the Vefpressan-media conglomerate.
Last October, Eggert Skúlason, one of the new editors, was hired by DV’s interim owners, to conduct a report on the medium’s strengths and weknesses, a so-called SWOT-analysis. The Icelandic Journalists’ Association’s Chair, Hjálmar Jónsson, DV’s 23 journalists, including chief editor Hallgrímur Thorsteinsson, and The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) all denounced the report as unprofessional, prejudiced and slanted against the medium’s critical reporting, as well as against individual journalists.
Backstory: The struggle for control over DV
2014 has been a turbulent year for DV. The paper led the reporting of the Interior Ministry leak which eventually led to the Minister’s resignation. In the meantime, it was revealed that the former Minister had, through phone calls she made to the paper’s then chief editor, Reynir Traustason, demanded that the journalists investigating the case, Jóhann Páll Jóhannsson and Jón Bjarki Magnússon, would be muffled.
Correction: Last September, one Björn Leifsson, owner of gym chain “World Class”, did not buy the majority of DV’s shares, as this post originally claimed, but a minority share, with the stated aim, however, to get rid of said chief editor, Reynir Traustason. Björn sold the shares to owners who proceeded to form a new board. At least six employees resigned as Reynir was kicked out. Veteran journalist Hallgrímur Thorsteinsson was hired in Reynir’s place, on September 7.
At that point, Eggert Skúlason conducted the infamous report, mentioned above. Among the report’s suggestions was that individual journalists should pay a larger share of any possible costs of libel and defamation suits. In a joint statement, the paper’s 23 journalists said that the report was more akin to a blog post than an objective expert analysis. At the time, Eggert Skúlason declined to comment. Asked by Vísir he said: “I have absolutely nothing to say about this. I was asked to do this job by the publisher’s board. It is not my job to account for that.”
Correction: The owners of the majority of DV’s shares (not Björn Leifsson as stated earlier) then sold their shares to Björn Ingi Hrafnsson’s Vefpressan. Björn Ingi is a Progressive Party member and has served as a member of Reykjavík city council on behalf of the party. Mid-December, Björn Ingi Hrafnsson became Chair of DV’s board, and seems now to be implementing his policy.
On November 20, the association Journalists Without Borders, released a statement expressing its concerns about the freedom of the press in Iceland.