Fear of expression: academics’ dilemma in a small society
Few would contest that academics´ participation in the general debate is important in a democratic society. Some might even say academics have a responsibility to use their knowledge and expertise to shed further light on issues of controversy in society. But what if the conditions for a critical debate are poor, e.g. due to the size of the society? Drawing upon criticism of academics found in Althing’s Special Investigation Commission (SIC) report on the collapse of the Icelandic banks in 2008 I will introduce a study, carried out among Icelandic academics on their relationship with the local media and their willingness and experience of participating in the general debate. Do they fear powerful people in politics or business, and therefore refrain from commenting on hot topics in the general debate? What is their view of the Icelandic media? Examples will be given of the struggles Icelandic academics, home and abroad, have been facing in this area.
Björn Gíslason is web editor and manager of communications at the Division of Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Iceland. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iceland and has previously worked as a journalist for various media outlets in Iceland.