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As the fury subsides…

Well, much of yesterday’s fury has abated, although a nationwide discussion about the matter has continued. All parts of the media, without exception, have condemned DV – in fact a front-page headline in Blaðið says it all: “DV ISOLATED”. A photograph through the window of their offices shows staff looking very grim. Evidently they’ve virtually barricaded their doors and not allowed any other media inside. They’re not answering questions.

Meanwhile, as the anger dies down, various issues float to the surface.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
While the DV editors work overtime to whitewash their actions and refuse to take any responsibility, the public will have none of it. The word on the street is that the Fourth Estate must take social responsibility simply because by nature it hold enormous power, and with great power comes great responsibility. Despite being confronted with a petition signed by almost 30,000 people [10% of the nation if you do the math] in just over 24 hours, DV has declared that this will have no impact on its editorial policy. Hence the public is demanding that the owners, who until now have adopted a hands-off policy towards their editors [naturally], take charge. I heard an excellent analogy yesterday from Parliamentarian Hjálmar Árnason, who said that if a supermarket was found to be selling poisoned food, you’d expect the owners of the chain to react immediately, close the shop, fire the head manager, do something. Why should this be any different? DV is feeding the public poison. [Applause!]

WHAT ABOUT LIBEL?
Lawyers and attorneys have been popular guests on chat shows and on the pages of the media today, answering questions about libel laws. The consensus is that DV did indeed violate laws about libel and slander and the protection of privacy. Yet in this case, with the man’s death the case is automatically closed, so many important questions will never be resolved. DV could very likely be sentenced to pay a hefty fine if charged, but the question is whether compensation passes on to the family with the man’s death. However, some lawyers point out that since the DV editor appeared on national television yesterday and continued with the same accusations, the man’s relatives could conceivably charge him with slandering the dead man’s memory and character.

There was an interview with the man’s brother on State TV yesterday. While he appeared devastated, was remarkably lucid. He was asked about the possibility of pressing charges, but yesterday at least it did not seem like a priority issue with him. Which is probably understandable. The man has lost his brother. Pressing charges will not bring him back.

I heard an interesting point today, though, which was that tabloids don’t care about fines as long as they still make a profit. From what I gathered [I didn’t hear the entire report] it sounded like there were ideas afoot to change legislation so that fines were levied in direct proportion to the tabloid’s profit margin. Which seems to make eminent sense.

WHAT DOES THE PRESS UNION HAVE TO SAY?
They’ve condemned the matter, obviously. They have a Code of Ethics by which they work, and DV has publicly declared that they will not abide by that code and has fashioned its own [!]. There seems to be a debate within the union as to whether the DV editorial staff should be kicked out, or allowed to remain within the ranks of the union. The chairwoman, who is a very level-headed and smart person, does not want them to go because in her view it would not achieve anything – they’d continue on the same track, and at least if they’re within the union there is a small chance that they might be persuaded to change their policy.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO WERE ALLEGEDLY ABUSED?
At least one of those who were in the process of pressing charges against the man sent forth a statement today in which he said that it should not be forgotten that there are ‘other victims’ in this case. Obviously referring to those who were allegedly sexually abused by the deceased. Apparently there were a handful of people. They declined to be interviewed and condemned DV’s coverage of the case. While DV has waxed all noble about ‘helping the victims’ etc., this man had a different story. He and others had been hounded and pestered by DV for a long time. They had repeatedly, through a third party, asked that DV not publish the story because it would interfere with the case and hinder justice. Which obviously is exactly what happened. Those people will now never see their cases resolved, or justice prevail. For them, there is no closure.

The human tragedies that this newspaper has propagated and continues to propagate – it’s horrendous.

Meanwhile, the small community of Ísafjörður is reeling. Flags were widely at half-mast today. According to a local minister, the entire town is grieving. Everyone knew the man who died. He was a prominent member of the community. It would have been bad enough for this case to have come to light – but with the man’s suicide, the shock and pain are palpable. One can only imagine.

Meanwhile, life goes on and so does the weather. It’s snowed a lot in the last few days – no complaints any more about the lack of snow, it’s been magical. There was a doozie of a storm last night though with strong winds and whiteout, this morning there was slush everywhere, and this afternoon everything froze again and we had a large, Reykjavík-sized skating rink. Had a narrow escape on the road this afternoon – applied the brakes yet kept sliding towards the car in front of me and just managed to come to a halt before rear-ending it, while the car behind me drove up on the sidewalk to avoid hitting me. That got the old pulse racing! Temps currently –2°C and sunrise was at 11.01, sunset at 16.08.

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