The Journalist Association of Iceland (BÍ) announced yesterday that public broadcast RÚV and journalist Helgi Seljan had violated the Association’s ethical regulations in their reporting involving granting of citizenship.
RÚV’s news review program Kastljós reported in the end of April that a woman from Central America, Lucia Celeste Molina Sierra, the fiancé of former Minister of the Environment’s Jónína Bjartmarz’s son, had been granted Icelandic citizenship after only 15 months in the country.
According to Morgunbladid, Bjarmarz filed a complaint to BÍ claiming RÚV’s reporting had violated the third article of BÍ’s ethical regulations. The third article states that a journalist should be thorough in information gathering, in processing the information and presenting it, be considerate and avoid causing innocent people unnecessary pain or disgrace.
Bjartmarz claimed RÚV’s reporting had been aimed at harming her reputation.
BÍ’s ethical committee concluded RÚV’s and Seljan’s reporting had been wrong and misleading and its purpose had been to make the former minister look suspicious, especially the first report broadcast on April 26. The committee also said the timing had been unfortunate as the report was broadcast shortly before the parliamentary elections on May 12.
Kastljós issued a statement to the media yesterday criticizing BÍ’s conclusion, saying it appeared as if the ethical committee would like reporters to treat cases differently if they involve candidates in elections.
The statement also said BÍ had criticized the lack of preparation despite not investigating in detail whether Seljan had been thorough enough when gathering information for the story. Kastljós claimed everything had been reported correctly apart from a minor factual error about the number of applicants for citizenship.
Bjartmarz would not comment on the case when Morgunbladid approached her last night, as she had not been able to read BÍ’s conclusion in detail.
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