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Ljubljana
Monday, July 4, 2022

The media are not inciting disobedience and contributing to the spread of the virus?

By: Sara Bertoncelj

The MMC web portal or the RTV Slovenia has completely lost its compass in its campaign against the current government. It has not been properly informing people about the situation since the first day of the epidemic, even though that would be appropriate for the national television we all pay for. Instead of teaching people to take care of their own health and the health of their loved ones by adhering to the measures, they prefer to explore how the penalties for non-compliance can be avoided and how you can perhaps even make some money while you’re at it. “The aforementioned fines for not wearing masks may even become an interesting source of income for some law firm in the future,” they wrote on the MMC web portal, explaining that the legal basis for the fines for not wearing protective masks is quite questionable. They referred to the legal opinions of two lawyers from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana.

The article was apparently also “inspired” by the head of the general security and security planning department of the Uniformed Police Administration, Alojz Sladič, who said in a government press conference on Friday that 3,647 warnings and 2,663 fines had been issued in November, in connection with violations of the Communicable Diseases Act. Most of the fines, he said, were imposed for violations of the ordinance on crossing between municipalities and for not wearing a mask.

However, it seems that MMC or RTV Slovenia see no problem with the citizens not adhering to the measures that are primarily intended for their own health and the health of everyone around them. The people still do not realize that they, too, can be affected by the effects of the virus, even if they may not get it themselves. They may, however, get appendicitis and, due to the hospitals being filled to max capacity, they will not be operated on in time. But this is obviously too difficult for them to understand. The RTV sees no problem with this; instead, they find it more important to point out that the police or the government may not even have a legal basis for writing these fines. And what is the message that the people will most likely get from their article? They cannot do anything to us!

Is MMC a media outlet that works for the good of the people?
Things are actually pretty simple. The virus needs people to be transmitted. Which means that the infection is transmitted where the people are. Better yet, a lot of people. If a lot of people are infected, this also means that the number of seriously ill people is higher. Which means there are a lot of people in hospitals. Which does not only mean that there may be a shortage of “beds” for patients with COVID-19, but also that there may be a shortage of doctors and other staff for other patients. Recently, a post was published on social networks, in which the author wrote that he had to wait several hours for an ambulance, which he called for his father. “The emergency room is not more than a few minutes away,” he wrote, but people just don’t want to hear and understand the severity of the problem. The main Slovenian media outlet, which is absolutely the most problematic media outlet that we all still have to pay for, is not doing anything to finally make Slovenians understand why they have to adhere to the measures. Why they should wear a mask, why they should keep their distance, why they should wash their hands and download the app to their mobile phones. No, RTV prefers to offer the idea that “The aforementioned fines for not wearing masks may even become an interesting source of income for some law firm in the future, that will sue the state for illegal sanctions, on behalf of those fined for not wearing personal protective equipment.” Does this seem like the work of a media outlet that works for the good of the people who fund it?

If the people followed the measures, there would be no need to write fines either
And what is more, the legal experts provided MMC with the legal assessment that, in their opinion, no method of interpretation could lead to the conclusion that wearing masks and disinfecting hands are part of the restrictions on the movement of people. Therefore, they believe, it follows that the government has no legal basis for adopting these two measures. Of course, wearing masks and disinfecting your hands does is not part of the restriction of movement, you do not have to be a legal expert for this interpretation. However, we still cannot simply ignore the fact that these are the two basic measures that, according to all the results of research, help the most in limiting the spread of infection.

So, what is the main problem in this story? Is it that the people who do not follow the measures are punished, or is it that these people obviously do not follow the measures and are therefore potentially spreading the infection? Should we focus on the causes or consequences? Would the people even have to be fined, if they complied with the measures? And let’s stop believing them when they say that the reason that the people are not following the measures is that the government spokesperson, the director of the National Institute of Public Health, or anyone else is not communicating properly with the public. In fact, it is primarily the media that are to blame, as they decide what they will report on, how they will report on it and with what connotation they will deliver the message. It should be emphasized here that they should at least report neutrally if they still do not know how to report professionally. The fact that we pay for them to practically cause damage to our health, so to speak, is very tasteless.

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