For the past couple of weeks, UK public relations and communication firm Burson-Marstellar has been requesting corrections on news articles about Iceland in at least 11 major international media sources on behalf of the Icelandic government, RÚV reports.
The requests for correction are in connection with the scandal involving Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson’s father and a convicted paedophile which led to the dissolution of the government coalition last month. The convicted paedophile’s social standing and eligibility for certain public positions was restored through an old legal process called “uppreist æra”. Most of the corrections objected to the translation of “uppreist æra” as “pardon,” suggesting the more accurate “restored honour”. One source which has since updated their vocabulary accordingly is the Washington Post. The story was among the most read news stories in various international media sources last month, including the Guardian.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs told RÚV it has engaged the services of Burson-Marstellar previously, for example to correct factual errors in US media coverage of Down syndrome in Iceland. CBS television network’s coverage of screening and pregnancy termination related to Down syndrome in the Icelandic health care system prompted harsh criticism from the international community, including US politicians Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz.
The Ministry also told the broadcaster it has intermittently solicited Burson-Marstellar’s services since 2012.