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Sunday, June 11, 2023

These Are Last Week’s Journalistic Slip-Ups From RTV

By: Sara Bertoncelj /Nova24tv

In the past week, the national media outlet RTV Slovenia reported on a number of topics but also did not report on some. The latter group also includes everything that has happened in relation to the issue of the education of Supreme Court judge Branko Masleša. Thus, RTV did not even mention the fact that the session of the Judicial Council had taken place. If, after the previous episode of the show Utrip (Pulse), prepared Dr Možina, a tiny spark of hope was ignited, it was quickly extinguished in the next episode of the show, prepared by journalist Mojca Šetinc Pašek, who was, of course, clear in her expression of opposing the current government – but did not mention her grievances against Prime Minister Janez Janša – which would certainly add the necessary context and help the viewers understand the episode better. And let’s not forget about the fact that journalists should strive to provide a truthful and comprehensive coverage of events, within the right context, of course. However, they should also ensure full access to daily information – all the more so if they are the public media outlet. And thus, in the following article, we are going to highlight some of the most striking “mistakes” that the public RTV “produced” in the last week.

The words we choose (or do not choose) are important, because it is a characteristic of the language that it is not neutral and that it constructs the world rather than just describes it. You could say that language creates reality. Language can also be called a discourse, which otherwise includes the way of expressing, or provides meaning from a certain perspective. Discourses are, of course, related to the interests of certain groups or individuals who have sufficient power in society. Representation of different aspects of the world can also be seen as ideologies – these, of course, contribute to maintaining power relations in society. Antonio Gramsci also introduced the term hegemony – one of the main strategies of hegemony is the creation of “common sense.” Thus, if certain ideas are accepted in society as common sense, then the purpose is achieved, and ideological work remains disguised. The media are not neutral actors in this, they actually play a decisive role in spreading ideology.

In the analysis of journalistic articles or media reporting, we have to ask several questions – from the question of what is the form of articles, how long are they, what are the titles and photos that appear in them, to what sources appear in the articles, who speaks first, who is being cited, and which themes appear several times in one article. It is also important to check what narrative is being used in conveying the information, what is the connotative meaning of the words, and so on. It is also necessary to remember the priority thematisation – which means that the media chooses topics that will be on the “agenda” and at the same time chooses what the public will think about. A very good example of “common sense” and all of the above was the recent episode of the show Utrop, which was prepared for the first time in 15 years by Dr Jože Možina for RTV. The show portrayed the battle of Dražgoše in a different light than the one we have gotten used to in recent years. The version we are usually being shown, although untrue, has become so imprinted in the public’s consciousness that even if the historian presents evidence, the true version is not acceptable to many. Successfully disguised ideological work is very clearly shown here.

So, if we start at the end this time, we can see that journalist Mojca Šetinc Pašek in the show Utrip, which is indented for the author’s comment on domestic political events in Slovenia, did not state that she was in a private lawsuit with Prime Minister Janez Janša, who she mentioned several times in the episode and also clearly criticised his work. Among other things, she said that the government was not prepared for the epidemic, and instead of providing appropriate communication, it created a whole new Slovenian division. It is true that the show Utrip is intended for a more subjective opinion of the creator than for actual objective facts, but the viewers should still be aware of the reasons for this distinctly negative reporting. According to the Code of Ethics for Journalists, the author should therefore state the relevant information at the end of the episode as a “disclaimer,” the Government Communication Office wrote, as it is performing an analysis of the recent reporting of our public media outlet.

And while our media outlet often reported on what was happening in the field of the issue of the qualifications of judge Branko Masleša and judge Jasminka Jaša Trklja, the public RTV decided that the topic in question does not exist at all. Among other things, it censored the meeting of the Judicial Council, which took place last week and at which this very topic was being discussed. After all of this, can we still claim that RTV Slovenia provides comprehensive access to daily information? Not really.

And then there was the show Točka preloma (Breaking Point), in which the Minister of Economy, Zdravko Počivalšek, was a guest. The host of the show asked the minister a provocative question right when the end credits began to roll. She asked him if he knew anything about the York Fund selling its stake to a Hungarian fund, but then she did not allow the minister to properly respond to the question, saying that the available time for the broadcast had already finished. But despite the apparent rush she was in, the host still managed to find enough time to interrupt the minister and ask him the same question over and over again. Therefore, the minister decided to respond to her question on Twitter after the show. Here is what he wrote: “I cannot say I am satisfied with the level of professionalism of those running the show Točka preloma. Asking questions when the end credits already start to roll and then not letting the person respond is inadmissible. You can read my position regarding the last question here: https://t.co/RWdqDUcfpk.”

And the response to the Prime Minister’s conversation on Indian television was also quite heated. The show Dogodki in odmevi (Events and Echoes) prepared a segment on the responses to the Prime Minister’s statement on Taiwan but presented the matter completely one-sidedly. Among other things, they did not mention any company that allegedly had problems due to what the Prime Minister said by name – but nevertheless claimed that such companies exist. The same thing happened on the show Dnevnik (Daily). They only cited the statements of the opposition deputies, demanding an emergency meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee, but kept quiet about the Prime Minister’s tweet that Taiwan had already welcomed the first official delegation of the European Parliament last November and that 19 or 20 EU Member States already have their Economic Representative Offices in Thailand.

And then, on the 19th of January, the show Dnevnik reported that MP Violeta Tomić was leaving the Left party (Levica). With this, the journalist more than obviously censored Tomić’s statement, as she said: “The Left party’s favourite sport is kicking a person when they are down.” The journalist also did not get a response from the coordinator of the Left party, Luka Mesec, who probably wanted to respond to the accusations that Tomić made against the party.

On the same day, Vanja Kovač‘s segment on the non-governmental organisations’ demands for political parties was also published on the show Dnevnik. Among other things, the representatives said that the NGOs would support those parties that agree with their demands. The journalist ignored the important fact that in their demands, the NGOs expect the parties to increase their funding, which is a kind of political corruption. In addition, she also withheld the names of some of the NGOs which were involved in these demands – for example, she did not mention that the activist Filip Dobranić‘s association Danes je nov dan (Today Is a New Day) is among them.

On the same day, the show Glasovi svetov (Voices of the Worlds) was broadcast on the radio, where stereotypes in schools were being discussed, as well as the fact that in Slovenian primary schools, lots of gender stereotypes are still part of the educational process, which are reflected in the overt and covert curriculum, as well as the school materials and teaching methods. The guest on the show was Ana Pavlič from the Institute for Gender Equality Studies. In the analysis, a distinctly one-sided portrayal was perceived, as if the editor had a ban on inviting anyone who would think differently to his show.

And then there is the infamous Studio City, for which we could probably do a stand-alone analysis. It is well known that the show is anything but balanced. In the analysis, the Government Communication Office highlighted two segments specifically. The first talked about the pressures within the police. This included a statement by Janko Goršek, the former Director-General of the Police, about dehumanisation in the police as one of the reasons for leaving the police. They cited changes in the leadership of the National Bureau of Investigation, new legislation on the work and organisation of the police, a warning before the dismissal of three police officers who took action against the yellow jackets during the state celebration, and the alleged censorship of union messages. On the other hand, only a brief statement by the Director-General of the police, Dr Anton Olaj, was broadcast, in which he denied all allegations of a personnel purge.

The guest on the show was Jaša Jenull, to whom the Ministry of the Interior sent an invoice for the costs of protecting the protests. Among other things, he made allegations of intimidation. As in the aforementioned case, this was also a completely one-sided display. It seems that the editor was not allowed to invite anyone other than Jenull to explain the views on why Jenull should pay the security costs and not all citizens. Well, if nothing else, the viewers of the show learned that the organiser of the protests was not Jenull, but – according to him – the Prime Minister Janez Janša himself. As can be seen from the Government Communication Office’s analysis, it still happens way too often that the national broadcasting service RTV adheres to the principle that truth is not achievable, and objectivity is merely an ideal. Let’s hope that at least here and there, people like Možina will be given a chance to interfere, thus proving that the attitude of journalistic discourse towards reality can also be different.


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