Calling the coverage “unbalanced”, pilots for WOW Air want the Icelandic Journalists Union to investigate if reporters covering the airline’s financial hardships have been given favours or special rewards from WOW Air competitors. The charge is especially curious in light of WOW Air having given journalists comped flights on at least one occasion. The chair of the journalists union has dismissed the allegations categorically.
In a letter sent to the journalists union, the Icelandic Pilots Union (IFF) wants an investigation launched into favours granted to reporters, such as free tickets, from competitors of WOW Air in light of “unbalanced coverage” on the airline’s financial troubles.
The IFF furthermore wants the journalists union to investigate the sources for these reporters, contending that “many of them get their information from a blogger living in Sweden, who is a self-appointed leading expert in Icelandic airline issues and is more often than not quoted for his unsupported speculations.” This last bit in all likelihood refers to Kristján Sigurjónsson, who runs the Icelandic tourism industry website Turisti.is.
The charge is a curious one in light of the fact that WOW Air has comped the flights of reporters before. As Stundin reported in 2015, WOW Air had invited reporters from numerous Icelandic media outlets to go on the airline’s maiden voyage to Washington DC, where they were reportedly treated to an evening out dining, to visit Congress and other events.
Hjálmar Jónsson, the chair of the journalists union, has responded by categorically denying IFF’s charges, saying in part, “I understand that WOW Air employees are worried about their jobs, but to attribute part of the company’s operational difficulties to the reporting of journalists is like going to a goat house in search of wool.” He emphasises that a reporter’s first duty is to the public, which includes “reporting in a critical manner about important companies within Icelandic financial life.”
For the record, the Reykjavík Grapevine has never and would never accept offers of compensation of any kind from one company in exchange for reporting negatively about one of its competitors.
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