Is there a Media Crisis in Iceland?

For decades the biggest and most respected newspaper in Iceland was daily Morgunbladid. Rather conservative but you could always trust that journalistic ethics and professionalism was respected. Now, after the economic crisis this has changed. Morgunbladid used to criticize the whaling in its editorial and articles and its news on the subject was balanced but not anymore.

Last week Gary Locke, US minister for Trade and Commerce criticized Iceland for whaling and specifically the inhumane and unnecessary killings of endangered fin whales. Mr. Locke also said that the US were thinking of taking actions against Icelandic companies involved in whaling. This summer one whaling company in Iceland killed 148 fin whales. It does not happen every day that a friendly state like the US formerly protests and file complaints over the actions of our government. Normally this would be a big story in Morgunbladid and in other media here but no, not now.

Morgunbladid just qouted Mr. Locke saying that the US felt the whaling was unnecessary. It then goes saying that the IWC scientific committee has concluded that Iceland´s whaling is sustainable and that it is Ok for Iceland to kill 153 fin whales annually. I wonder where they got that from! The fishery minister of Iceland Mr. Bjarnason then said that the marketing if whale meat is not an issue for the ministry but for the whalers and that the letter from the US government will of course be answered. That´s it!

No coverage on the cruelty issue nor the threat to go against Icelandic companies involved in the whaling. No questions asked if it is worth it to go against the will of the US and 26 other states who Iceland has important relations with and who have protested against the whaling. Perhaps the reason for this sort of a journalism here in Iceland is that Mr. Loftsson who runs the biggest whaling company in the country is apparently now a big shareholder in Morgunbladid?

--SS

For more information on IFAW efforts to end commercial whaling, visit www.ifaw.org

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