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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Vinko Vasle & Jože Biščak: Petition regarding marginal pressures

The petition – or rather the pamphlet of “22 editors-in-chief of the Slovenian media” or media political activists – is a very transparent new attack on the center-right government led by Janez Janša. This is an attempt to repeat the exercise of the so-called petition against censorship and political pressure on Slovenian journalists, written in 2007, also during the Janša’s government, by Blaž Zgaga and Matej Šurc – two well-known distributors of untruths, lies and media hysteria. Many fellow journalists were forced to sign the petition, and the consequences of not signing it were explained to them “on the ground” by the current editor of Mladina, Grega Repovž, who is also a signatory of the current pamphlet on pressure. Basically, all of these editors who signed this last petition had also signed the first one.

Interestingly, the signatories are not editors of Slovene media houses, but some editors of Slovene media, because as many as 12 (in a word: twelve) signatories out of a total of 22 are editors of the RTV Slovenia programs. This tells us a lot at the moment! Firstly, the petition is putting pressure on program councillors, who seem to be mostly inclined to dismiss the current director general of RTV Slovenia Igor Kadunec, and hence some cry: we will not give in to pressure. In the decades-long history of public television, Igor Kadunc is arguably one of the most incompetent managers of the so-called money-from-the-electricity connection, because all households in the country that have an electricity connection are obliged to pay the monthly RTV fee. Igor Kadunec’s business performance is already approaching a loss of eight million euros, the Supervisory Board has repeatedly rejected his program and production plan and demanded that he prepares a new plan or supplementary budget. Kadunc does not pay attention to these demands by the supervisory board and blames the legislator, whom he has been forcing to increase the RTV fee for a long time. Compared to European TV companies, RTV Slovenia is one of the most luxurious in terms of staff, but also very unprofessional in terms of programming, which is especially true for its radio and television news programs.

In general, the pamphlet “we will not give in to pressures” is aimed at maintaining the status quo of the public radio and television and seats at the table of individuals who do not perform their work even in accordance with the internal ethical criteria, let alone the external one. Some media editors owned by well-known tycoons (Delo, Dnevnik, Večer) or “unknown” financial lobbies from some exotic island (Mladina) also signed the pamphlet in solidarity. After the sale of the Reporter magazine to the media mogul Martin Odlazek, who has already been convicted, Reporter completely replaced its center-right editorial policy with the left-wing agenda, which, as in the case of other media, is based on anti-Janšism (Janez Janša is the current Prime Minister).

Among other things, the pamphlet mocks the common sense of viewers, listeners and readers by claiming that the signatories are “aware of the criticality and importance of the moment we find ourselves in due to the new coronavirus pandemic.” And that the media, journalists, editors and other creators of media content are fully aware of their role and responsibilities. A glance into the media content of media and broadcasts produced by the signed editors-in-chief illustrates the unveracity of their statement. Since the center-right government legitimately and legally took over the office last March, all these media have been systematically sabotaging the efforts of this government to tackle the pandemic responsibly and in solidarity. Public television played a leading role in these sabotages; POP TV provided excellent anti-propaganda support, and other newspapers and magazines were consistently involved in these campaigns. To a certain extent, RTV Slovenia was also the media “sponsor” of illegal Friday gatherings in Ljubljana, which are already yielding results – Ljubljana is one of the most infected cities.

The part of the text saying that these media house and journalists are intensively searching for answers with the medical profession and are struggling with a stampede of false and dangerously simplified theories that have no scientific basis, is also incredibly miserable to read. They added that “only the truth counts for us.” There are too many examples that prove how these words are not only untrue, but are complete lies. These are cases when these editors and these media houses allowed and propagated the most dangerous, discarded conspiracy theories of the so-called influencers, supported them, advertised them and, in public outrage, also defended them in all possible ways with the public RTV Slovenia taking the lead.

The political activists of these media, who signed as editors-in-chief, write that they are very concerned about the level of communication with citizens in these difficult COVID-19 times, attacks on the media, journalists, their discrediting and demonization. Of course, this is a well-known tactic of the left-wing media that focuses on socialism and communism, which do not care about the health and survival of the people in the country. Their main motive is to overthrow the government of Janez Janša and the current coalition. Part of politics and the conservative public recognizes their at-these-times dangerous media “professionalism”, hence these media are critiqued, which they describe as attacks on their independence and autonomy. They refer to the absolute of their actions, to rights that they,  in the ethical sense, do not have and should not have – namely the rights of the autonomy of journalistic lies, manipulations and deceptions. And to paraphrase part of their text – rarely in the EU are journalists entitled to direct deception, incitement and dissemination of false information.

We therefore hope that the truth will not give in to the pressures of such journalism. That it will not succumb to the double standards of these editors and the media house and their party organization, the Slovenian Journalists’ Association, which divides attacks and pressures on journalists into justified and unjustified. For example, these editors and the media “did not notice” and did not condemn the attack on the cameraman of the Nova24TV.

The comment from the Internet says the most about this pamphlet – that it is a communist manifesto in the style of “Comrade Tito, we swear to you not to deviate from your path”.

 

Vinko Vasle, a longtime journalist and editor and former director of the public Radio Slovenia (RTV Slovenia), and Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief of the magazine Demokracija and president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists

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