A friend of mine just called to ask me if everything was going hog wild at Iceland Review. He had just read various entries on www.malefnin.com, a website popular with journalists, and there was a discussion taking place about yesterday’s “Daily Life”, in which Bart slammed the newspaper Frettabladid for running a story on how the discount supermarket Bonus was in a price war with Kronan.
Knowing that Baugur Group owns Bonus, and Frettabladid, the story appearing on the front page, according to Bart, was somewhat fishy.
The colourful postings on this website said such things, and I’m paraphrasing, as “Bart, you’re my hero for finally speaking out against media bias. Would you please come to my house for milk and cheese?” and “Bart you suck and the publisher of your magazine hates Frettabladid so that’s why you criticised the paper.”
(If our publisher dictated what we could and could not write in this column based on his political beliefs, we all would’ve been fired years ago.)
My favourite musing was the one that went something like, “Leave the British journalist alone.”
It’s a good thing that these readers think Bart’s British, because if they knew he was American they’d probably be slamming him.
Last week I ordered an Americana at a cafe, and the waitress made fun of my request, so foolishly I told her that, well, I was an American to which she replied, “That’s too bad.”
Will the trans-Atlantic rift ever heal?
Back to the controversy. Is an article discussing which supermarket is cheaper, Bonus or Kronan, appearing on the front page of Frettabladid, a paper owned by the owner of Bonus, a sign of media bias? I say, No.
Listen, Jon Asgeir, otherwise known as Mr. Baugur, runs an empire that is, as Bart mentioned yesterday, the single largest private employer in Britain. It seems as if every week his empire is gobbling up yet another foreign company. No offence to Iceland, but this guy is reading the “Financial Times”, “The Wall Street Journal”, and books by Lee Iacocca and Donald Trump, not the local papers. I bet Mr. Baugur’s even read, “What Colour is Your Parachute”.
Is there bias at Frettabladid? Perhaps. I’m sure some reporters feel awkward writing a critical article about one of Mr. Baugur’s interests. Over time this could lead to soft stories. But then there are probably reporters who would, to prove there is no bias, take a hard line against Mr. Baugur.
There is bias in journalism. Sometimes this bias is blatant, like on Fox News where Bill O’Reilly talks out his blowhole. Sometimes it’s subtle, noticed only if the reader studies the modifiers.
But hey, if you really want to know which supermarket is cheaper, go comparison-shopping. EW