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On “re-educating” the media

This is kind of old, but it’s just been brought to my attention.

In October of last year, the Financial Times reported that the Public Health Institute of Iceland had urged the Icelandic media to spin stories to make them more positive, allegedly to save us Nicelanders from depression.

Amid fears that collective funk could lead to long-term health problems for the small and tight-knit population, the state Public Health Institute is trying to “re-educate” news organisations to be more “constructive” in their coverage.

I don’t know about you, but I find words like “constructive” and “re-educate” in this context highly disturbing.

A short while after the above appeared, RÚV’s morning radio programme, renowned for excellent news analysis and coverage of current affairs, was cancelled, allegedly due to cutbacks.

Meanwhile, since the more recent cutbacks on RÚV [state broadcaster], current affairs programme Kastljós — which was always pretty good in its coverage — has become a shadow of its former self and just plain sad to watch. RÚV also dropped the programme Fréttaaukinn, a news analysis programme that was shown on Sunday nights. And last year, Stöð 2 [owned by oligarch Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson] cancelled Kompáss, one of the top investigative reporting programmes in this country.

And of course I do not have to elaborate on this country’s newspapers [except perhaps to say this and this].

All this is very alarming in these troubled times, when a free and critical media is more essential than ever before [save for the months preceding the collapse, maybe].

I just hope they keep their hands off Spegillinn, which is about the only decent news analysis programme left.

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  • Michael Lewis March 9, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Lets be honest, a lot of what “government” does, the world over, is frankly evil. To “re-educate” news organisations ” is laughable, that is something Stalin (or some EU bureaucrat) would think of. I remember reading of some report about “Kreppa babies” in Iceland, that the birth rate had shot up – presumably because staying in was now preferable to spending the hard earned Krona on other things. Not sure if the statistics verify or not. Perhaps some Icelanders can confirm….

  • alda March 9, 2010, 7:07 pm

    Perhaps some Icelanders can confirm…. — Heheh, that was a post I wrote on this blog and no, it was completely unscientific. The story went viral and was picked up by media worldwide.

    http://icelandweatherreport.com/2009/08/kreppa-babies.html

  • The Fred from the forums March 9, 2010, 7:29 pm

    So, there are now a lot of good unemployed reporters;
    and a lot to investigate;
    and quite possibly some disgruntled insiders waiting for someone to hear their stories;
    and a population which is not getting the answers which, in my unsolicited opinion, they deserve.

    Is there someone who’s still rich, who isn’t part of the problem (maybe some fishing quota magnate?) who could step forward and support journalists while they work on months-long investigative projects?

  • jo6pac March 9, 2010, 7:57 pm

    ML is right and here’s others watching what is to be done next in Iceland and remember it will be the citizens that will make this happen not your govt.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/auerback03092010.html

    http://agonist.org/icelandbloomberg

    http://agonist.org/iceland

    If you have time read the comments section.

  • Silvia Planchett March 9, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Stay tuned! Finding an honest Icelander known by at least 500 or more folks might become a real challenge. Nepotism tends to be a family thing here!

  • rifek March 9, 2010, 9:31 pm

    “Constructive” coverage is what got Iceland into this situation in the first place. Too much “Think happy thoughts” and “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” instead of real questions about what was going on.

  • sylvia hikins March 9, 2010, 9:59 pm

    Maybe you should ask your state TV to totally turn itself over to re-runs of escapist movies…Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, stairway to the stars and all that, or re-makes of Hollywood style synchronised swimming musicals in the thermal pools. Wasn’t that what people were fed during the depressed 30’s? I’m sure when they queued up at the Soup Kitchen it made them feel a whole lot better!Then with the money RUV would save, they could use it to finance blogs like yours Alda. Why not send them a nice letter and ask? (If I had a smiley I would insert a winking face!)
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • idunn March 9, 2010, 10:38 pm

    “the EU has been seen as a debt collector for the UK and Holland in the Icesave deal. That’s definitely turned people off, big time.”
    – Alda, via ‘Eamonn Fitzgerald’s Rainy Day’

    Obviously the media doesn’t need to be ‘re-educated,’ or bankers allowed to bankrupt a nation by privatizing profits and a nationalizing risk, or the environment unduly sullied, or any number of other things. One silver lining of this global mess the citizen’s of Iceland and a good many others are suffering, is perhaps in finally waking up.

    All too many of us complicit either in ignorance or buying into the party line that Ponzi schemes of various types are ever going to lead to a good end result. We have bought the big SUVs, maxed out the credit cards, and used the shelter of our homes as ATMs. We might have known, but now do.

  • Rik Hardy March 10, 2010, 2:21 am

    No good wringing our hands in despair. This development must be stopped, or a good alternative put in its place. At the very least, we certainly need a national newspaper worthy of the name.
    “Fred from the forums” asks: “Is there someone who’s still rich, who isn’t part of the problem (maybe some fishing quota magnate?) who could step forward and support journalists while they work on months-long investigative projects?”
    The problem is, if you step forward and criticize, the mafia might try to see to it that you won’t stay rich for long, and you’ll be excluded from influential society.
    I suggest for a start that we all give truly independent investigative journalists free meals for their entire family, lifts in our cars, free baby sitting, free dentistry, free whatever, whenever we can.
    Whether anybody at all in Iceland except the tourists actually is truly independent is another matter…

  • Joerg March 10, 2010, 8:02 am

    Next time, the media are lying to you, it might just happen to support your health. How comforting to know…

    Reading news from the years 2006-2008 shows, that spinning the facts was already customary in those years. The disastrous result of this treatment might indicate that it was probably the wrong medicine.   

  • Eliza March 10, 2010, 8:46 am

    oh well, fortunately there are still some “un-reeducated” bloggers in Iceland 🙂

  • Rik Hardy March 10, 2010, 1:40 pm

    Sylvia, I think that these days the Fred Astaire movies cost more to hire than the useless dope-warning teenager movies we are fed on Saturday nights – movies which nobody I know watches, and no teenager I know would even dream of watching, although the scripts appear to be written by teenagers themselves. Frankly, I think YouTube could fill in this gap extremely well. At least top quality in everything can be found there. The days when one could expect to find the last word in excellence on the BBC, for example, are gone. Good grief, even BBC English has gone to hell – but don’t get me started on that…