Iceland has moved from 15th to 16th place on Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index for 2021, in large part due to conflicts between fishing corporations and the media.
“The so-called ‘Fishrot Files’ scandal erupted in November 2019 when investigative media began covering thousands of documents published by WikiLeaks that had been leaked from within one of Iceland’s biggest fishing companies, indicating that it had bribed politicians in Namibia to secure a big share of that country’s fishing quota,” the report states in part. “The company launched a media campaign in 2020 aimed at discrediting the reporters covering the story.”
Samherji furthermore filed complaints against 11 employees of RÚV, one of the media outlets who reported on the story, which included Helgi Seljan, to RÚV’s ethics committee. This committee, while noting that freedom of expression is constitutionally protected, nonetheless ruled that Helgi Seljan’s comments on social media about the matter constituted a serious violation of RÚV’s code of ethics.
RSF also noted that despite strong assurances from the Icelandic government on the importance of a free press, many media outlets are still struggling to make ends meet.
“Iceland’s legislation protects journalists and freedom of expression, but a lack of funding continues to be the main problem for the media,” RSF concludes. “A new law on media funding is being discussed.”
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!