By: Sara Kovač / Nova24TV
On Wednesday, journalist Bojan Požar wrote that Prime Minister Robert Golob has already confirmed the information that Primož Cirman will become the new boss of the Siol web portal, which consequently means that the Prime Minister is also personally recruiting editors of media outlets that are owned by state-owned companies, in this case, the Telekom company. As proof, Požar added Golob’s statement that Cirman is one of the best investigative journalists there are and that he would hire him anytime – if Cirman wanted that. “The Prime Minister and President of the Freedom Movement party is personally recruiting and appointing the editors of media outlets owned by state-owned companies,” Požar warned.
As we have already reported, in recent days, we have seen a new transfer from journalism to politics – Vesna Vuković is moving from the “Necenzuirirano.si” (“Uncensored”) web portal to the ruling Freedom Movement party (Gibanje svoboda). This could hardly be called a transfer, though – in reality, it is just a public confirmation of membership. Bojan Požar wrote on Twitter and on his web portal that he had learned from sources in the government coalition that it had been agreed in advance with Martin Odlazek, the owner of the Uncensored web portal, that its journalists would only be paid until the April elections. It is also worth noting that after the elections, Vuković and her colleague Primož Cirman visited Robert Golob in Solkan, where he has been living with a friend for some time – they probably discussed the next steps.
The third journalist of the Uncensored web portal, Tomaž Modic, became an assistant to the National Assembly’s Commission of Inquiry – he was invited there by the “independent” journalist Mojca Šetinc Pašek, and after that, we watched with interest to see where Cirman would be placed, especially after the recent news that the former Acting Director of the Government Communication Office, Dragan Barbutovski, is stepping down. We guessed whether it might be Cirman himself that might replace him – and our guess was not that far from the truth because it was actually Cirman’s wife, Petra Bezjak Cirman, a well-known trade unionist from the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia, who got the job in question. And Primož Cirman is supposed to move to the Siol web portal sometime in autumn, which the company Telekom owns through its subsidiary TSmedia, d.o.o. The current editor-in-chief of the web portal, Peter Jančič, already responded to the news by writing: “Did the head of the government publicly announce the early dismissal of the editor-in-chief a year before the end of his term of office, due to political reasons, in order to put his supporter in office before the elections? This seems to be a new practice of political influence on the media.”
That Vuković has good relations with Golob was also evident from the fact that the latter transferred funds from the state-owned Gen-I energy company to her company SEE M. & C. – which she has still not clarified what exactly they were intended for. Our media outlet has already reported that Gen-I had transferred 103 thousand euros to the company in question over several years and that the last transfer of 3,660 euros was made to the company’s account earlier this year. Vuković stated that she would clarify all the circumstances in about two weeks’ time, when she would have made all the necessary arrangements for the “transfer.”
“We seem to have lost the battle for the integrity of the profession”
It should also at least be mentioned that Cirman is a member of the management board of the Slovene Association of Journalists. The association’s president, Petra Lesjak Tušek, responded to the journalists’ departures to politics on Facebook, writing, among other things, that “we need independent and critical journalism – it is a bit absurd how the current government is telling us that it is going to depoliticise the (public) media while in the meantime, the journalists are politicising themselves. Personally, everyone has the right to move wherever they want – into politics, business, or public relations, but they have to accept the risk that the work they have done so far will also be judged through this prism. And in doing so, they should not play the victim and claim that now a pogrom against them will follow or continue. Sorry, we remain journalists, and as journalists, we will judge the moves of our (former) colleagues. Anything else would be perverse.”
The Uncensored web portal was launched in the spring of 2020, which coincided with the inauguration of the Janez Janša government. It was clear from the outset that it was intended only for the tearing down of the Janša government – that much was clear from the content they published on the portal. Although they themselves have never disclosed who funds them, they have made a big deal about who funds our media outlet, Nova24TV. They soon got the reputation that if Uncensored published something, it was certainly not true – and the truth is likely the exact opposite. Perhaps the most “high-profile” thing they published was the non-paper, as they were the only ones to “expose” an exclusive document that allegedly spoke of the dismemberment of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the annexation of Republika Srpska to Serbia and the unification of Kosovo with Albania. So much for Primož Cirman being one of the best, if not the best, investigative journalists in Slovenia – as Golob claimed.