What Did FAZ Have To Say

Due to popular demand and having been alerted to it by various distinguished bloggerettes I have no choice but to draw your attention to an article ran recently in German Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung which was summarized by state-owned Slovene Press Agency and then re-published (in full, I take it) by Silvester Šurla, the recenlty removed editor of Mag magazine. His replacement was widely seen as a backlash by Laško brewery (which owns Delo, which in turn owns Mag) againt PM Janez Janša after he attacked Laško and Delo’s journalists during the vote of confidence.

surla1.jpg
Mag’s Silverster Šurla joins the ranks of bloggers

And just to give you a bit of backrgound, so you could understand how a pro-Janša magazine (Mag) ends up being a subsidiary of a newspaper, highly critical of the government (Delo):

In early 2005, with Janša only a couple of months in power and Delo still partly owned by state funds and state companies, the paper’s CEO Tomaž Perovič made a surprise move when he bought Mag, a pro-Janša magazine which was everything but a sound investment. But apparently he thought that if he bailed out Mag financialy and made Danilo Slivnik, the magazine’s editor-in-chief his second in command, he would hold on to his job.

No such luck. Within weeks Perovič’s term ended and the Board named Slivnik the new CEO. He then picked a new editor in chief and a radical switch from centre-left to a very pro-government orientiation was made. Journalists critical of the government were replaced, articles were practically rewriten by Peter Jančič, the new editor in chief while keeping the original author’s signature, often making it appear as if the author was less critical of the government as was his/her intention, divisional editors were replaced, and so forth…

Fast forward three years and as Laško (now almost 100% owner of Delo and – by extension – Mag) parted ways with Janez Janša, the same thing happened to Mag. A new editor was enforced upon the magazine’s journalists, the orientation of the magazine is apparently changing and it’s ex-editor went into blogger’s exile.

Which brings us to the article in FAZ. Now, all I have to go with is Šurla’s post because the original is in German (not the language I’m most comfortable in), but I guess it’ll have to do. The gist of the article is that if there is indeed censorship in Slovenia then the government is not really good at it.

The article is a fine read, but it does have one problem: It analyses the situation as it is now. I’ve said on more than one occasion that the Petition 571 (claiming rampant censorship) is three years to late. There is no censorship in Slovenia today. There are only more or less futile attempts at the goverment trying to generate some popularity. There, however, was censorship. Right up to 2007.

You see, the government pretends that time began with Janša/Laško split. It didn’t. Before the split this country witnessed a direct, ruthless and immediate interventions into media content by the government, wherever it held a stake (state radio and television, Delo and Večer dailies, etc), far beyond anything any of the previous governments did. And this is the main difference. Previous governments have intervened in the media. Pressure was brought to bear and only certain journalists very privy to sensitive information. But previous government never ran the media, whereas this government did and still does to an extent.

And the proof of that can be found in the last paragraph of the article, where it says that “The end result is that a handful of oligarchs control an important part of Slovene economy and more than 90% of Slovene media market”.

If we neglect for a second that the article seems to forget that media means so much more than just newspapers, we can ask ourself one question: How did we ever get here? How can it be that a handful of people own most of Slovene media? The answer is simple: Because Janez Janša made it possible. By selling to Laško Delo’s shares owned by both state funds Janez Janša is the prime culprit for the situation in the newspaper media market we have today. With Delo he also sold Večer (mostly owned by Delo) and Mag (completely owned by Delo). Add to that Dnevnik daily and Mladina weekly which have never hidden their anti-Janša sentiment, and you can see that the prime minister has only himself to blame for the situation. There’s no use crying “Wolf!” once you let the beast out of its cage.

Oh and as far as Mag and Šurla are concerned – I strongly dissaprove of the owner imposing a new editor over the will of that media’s journalists. I would, however, like to quote the following:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

(source)


afe9fccd63dafacb84eee4f91ad272c7

Published by

pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

18 thoughts on “What Did FAZ Have To Say”

  1. Hm. I don’t agree with you about the fact there’s no censorship now. In my opinion, pressure from the so-called leftists (my personal belief is that there is no real left party in the neighborhood) always was present and still is. For a while when the wannabe right-centered parties had the chance, they exercised it too. Both is sorely wrong, but that’s just the way I see it. And then – if there is no more censorship now, as you say, then there’s no problem with current gov’t in that field, yes? From that point of view I would surely like that political option to stay in power which, as a journalist, gives me a chance to publish what I want. 🙂 Anyway, that’s just a bone to chew on for you. What bothers me more is this intriguing difference in treating news from abroad: wherever there’s something that portrays Slovenia as a, somewhat, hell on Earth, media is plagued with such ramblings; when something like this FAZ thingie comes along, it remains overlooked.

  2. Hm…. Are we talking about political censorship here? Because if we are, then your argument is invalid as political censorship by definition implies censoring information unfavourable to the ruling party/government.

    Publishing anti-government content (and neglecting content favourable to the government) may well be considered populist and biased, but it is definitely not censorship.

    There is also a big difference between political pressure and actual censorship. Political pressure was, is and will be brought upon. However, if journalists and editors succumb to it, it is entirely their fault. If, however, they refuse to do so and their content is still altered – that’s censorship.

    And these are the reasons I maintain that there is no censorship now. So – yes – from this point of view there is no problem with this government as far as censorship is concerned. Those days are gone. But that don’t mean the government and it’s boss shouldn’t be held accountable for their previous actions and this government has made sure that it can influence a huge chunk of the media landscape directly (the law on RTVSLO)

    Political pressurse is abundant and will grow even stronger, as the political stakes get higher. And – for the record – I’ve no illusions that things will get any better if and when a change in power happens.

    The law on RTVSLO should be repealed immediately if we are to see any progress in the media department as a whole – but I’ve no illusions as to that. Even if a new government is elected it will immediately see the “benefits” of the current law and proceed to execute it fully (i.e.: continue running RTVSLO albeit from a different side of political spectrum).

  3. “Hm…. Are we talking about political censorship here? Because if we are, then your argument is invalid as political censorship by definition implies censoring information unfavourable to the ruling party/government.”

    Well, I do not know whether you have sufficient knowledge of what is going on at national radio and television and at national press agency. They are all government-run and government-owned. They all censor information not favourable to the government. And they all have the coverage that other media can only dream of. So I think that your statement that there is no censorship in Slovenia is not just a bit of an understatement, bit is plain ignorant.

  4. Sorry, I dont’t have time to read all these… I just want to say that I really like your page’s new look!
    Was I COMPLETELY out of context? (blush)

  5. @Der Komisar: Are you saying that editors on RTVSLO and STA prohibit pieces unfavourable to the government from being published? I’m honestly asking, because I haven’t heard any such roumors for a while, so I thought the situation has calmed down a bit.

    But you are right in pointing out that both RTVSLO and STA are government owned. And while STA’s mission was always to function as an extention of governent PR (I’m talking about the reasons behing its creation, not about specific journalists), RTVSLO should be brought back into public domain. But I’m afraid that even if a new government is elected it will find the current situation much to cozy to change it.

    @mars: Babe, you’re NEVER out of context 🙂 thanks for the compliments!

  6. Well, I would not say that the editors prohibit the production of unfavourable pieces, but they certainly strongly discourage it. We must move away from the image of a strict censor with a black pen in his hand, the mechanisms of censorship are much more subtle nowadays. There is no need to prohibit something, if that something has never seen the light of day. The devil, as always, is in the details of editorial management.

  7. True – but I submit to you that the journalists must take part of the blame as well. These “discouragments” are effective because journalists adhere to them.

    I also agree about articles being commisioned and not published, however – and I’m sure you’ll agree – this is a rather slippery terrain, because if everything that is written/produced gets published as well, then why do we need editors?

    But these too are a problem – in my view an editor should protect his team from outside influences, whereas most Slovene editors tend to avoid shit being poured over them and let journalists take the brunt of it.

    But I digress – what I’m trying to say is that not every rejected article amounts to censorship.

  8. “what I’m trying to say is that not every rejected article amounts to censorship.”

    Of course not. But agenda setting and editorial discretion in government-owned media are exercised in a way that leaves no doubt that PR-management of government’s actions and not their analysis is the guiding principle.

  9. That’s why I’m saying that RTVSLO should be returned back into public domain. As far as STA is concerned – it may be a bit cynical of me, but I think that it was conceived as a government PR service – anything beyond that is pure joy 🙂

  10. Hm…. Are we talking about political censorship here? Because if we are, then your argument is invalid as political censorship by definition implies censoring information unfavourable to the ruling party/government.
    Censoring information, unfavourable to the ruling party/government? I think this is almost mission impossible for the current government, at least not with the present existing corps of cocks… eh… khm… professional journalists.

    Of course what Pengovsky failed to mention here is that we have another category of censorship in Slovenia. Some called it lazyness, others referred to it as propagandism, third group of people simply called it intellectual incompetence and some others simply call it “auto-censorship”.

    Publishing anti-government content (and neglecting content favourable to the government) may well be considered populist and biased, but it is definitely not censorship.
    ?!&%$ Any kind of omittion of information is censorship. Otherwise why don’t you publish them all? Bad and good? What is the duty of the journalists??? To publish ALL information or just favourable or unfavourable information to the ruling government/party?

    There is also a big difference between political pressure and actual censorship. Political pressure was, is and will be brought upon. However, if journalists and editors succumb to it, it is entirely their fault. If, however, they refuse to do so and their content is still altered – that’s censorship.
    Remarkably but I agree. So why then petition? What kind of censorship did Jansa’s government managed to implement in the Ciciban???

    The law on RTVSLO should be repealed immediately if we are to see any progress in the media department as a whole…
    What is wrong with the current law of RTV SLO?

    That’s why I’m saying that RTVSLO should be returned back into public domain.
    With slicks like Janez Kocijancic back to main chair? Please Pengovsky do not insult our intelligence by saying that RTV SLO was a public domain before 2004. It was a party TV like it was before 1990. Like DELO. I am sure that you still remember the full title of the DELO from pre-1991 era, don’t you? It was party newspaper… fuck… it was the ONLY newspaper!

    So please do not say there was any censorship, political pressures and other fairytales about how honey and sugar were pouring before 2004. We all know why Uros Lipuscek had to resign, we all know the pressures behind Mozina’s TV documentary and we all knew who pulled the strings behind. Don’t believe me? Just take a look of the tapes on Radion SLO and TV SLO in 2000 during Bajuk’s government. You lost all respect back then in my department.

    Now to comment a few lines from your blog:

    No.1: If I understand you right Jansa tried to get hold on DELO with the help of ASK, Zoran Jankovic and Bosko Srot? Is it just me or this doesn’t make much sense to me? Perhaps it was ASK’s project with the full blessing of Bosko and Stojko.

    No.2: This one is even more hillarious. So that MAG got overtaken by Veso Stojanov and his company of cocks…eh… professional journalists is the fault of the MAG itself and Janez Jansa, because if DELO would have never bought MAG this would have never happened, right? This is one of the most stupidest argument I have ever heard in my life! But to go from the start:
    a.) Is MAG in debts? No.
    b.) Is it a bd magazine? No. One of few magazines and newspapers that still conducted FIELD RESEARCH and INVESTIGATION JOURNALISM.
    c.) Was his number of readers falling? No, quite the opposte actually according to the latest results.
    d.) Were his financial results in the last two years since he is under DELO bad? No, quite the opposite.
    e.) Did MAG journalists overtaken the DELO when they got to the DELO? No. It would also be theoretically and practically impossible considering since their journalist corps numbers just 10 people and DELO has how many aparatchiks….???
    f.) What is the usual proecedure when a new editor comes in place? is it usual that he brings along a company of journalists which oversize the total number of MAG journalists. I think not.
    g.) The content of new MAG says it all. The No.7 from petition has shown himself in the right light for being the hypocrite of the hypocrites. But that was to expect from the soldier of revolution. Afterall I am sure that ASK in Bosko and others who are in behind are paying them large amount of money to be their servile cockss… eh… professional journalists, who know how to be flexible. Perhaps this is why they have been so upset when DEMOKRACIJA published their enourmous salaries. It is hardly suprising, though. Ignorance and stupidity have always been well-rewarded in Slovenia ever since 1945.

    To summarize myself: Saying that MAG was overtaken because of the fault of Jansa or MAG journalists is a complete and utter lack of understanding how the principles of democracy are working. In fact, it shows to us the principles of totalitarism (like communism), where they also like to replace the whole crews and whole corps of journalists if they proved to be unflexible or uncooperative. Some got shot, others arrested, third banned and fourth bribed.

    It is like a beautiful woman, dressed in sexy clothes, would get raped in the middle of the street and Pengovsky would came nearby and say to her: “Look what you wear? You asked for it”. And then take a piece of her himself.

    With such mentality it is now wonder that nobody has any respects towards the journalists these days.

  11. Oh boy… Stepped on a few toes, have I? :mrgreen:

    Of course what Pengovsky failed to mention here is that we have another category of censorship in Slovenia. Some called it lazyness, others referred to it as propagandism, third group of people simply called it intellectual incompetence and some others simply call it “auto-censorship”.

    None of this things ammount to censorship – they do however ammount to lazyness, propagandism, incompetence and auto-censoship. Journalism never was and never will be immune to those. And – for the record – all of them are deplorable. most of them are also personified by the likes of Vlado Vodušek 😉

    Any kind of omittion of information is censorship

    Wrong. By this measure everything is censored as report on roughly only 10% of all events of any given day. We are talking about political censorship here.

    So why then petition?
    As I said – it came three years too late. In my view at least.

    What kind of censorship did Jansa’s government managed to implement in the Ciciban???
    Have you ever head of “proffesional support” – if your colleague has a problem you can express support, even if only on a general level. It does not imply that you have the same problem, but that you recognize that a problem exists.

    What is wrong with the current law of RTV SLO?
    Errr…. Everything?

    Please Pengovsky do not insult our intelligence by saying that RTV SLO was a public domain before 2004
    It was in public domain much more than it is now. I never said that it was perfect pre-2004, but now it is even worse.

    You lost all respect back then in my department.
    I lost your respect? Or did we lose your respect? As far as Bajuk’s govenrment is considered – now that was a sad chapter 🙂

    If I understand you right Jansa tried to get hold on DELO
    Wrong – Janša did get a hold on Delo. And he held on to it up until ASK and then Laško parted ways with him (in early 2007)

    So that MAG got overtaken by Veso Stojanov and his company of cocks…eh… professional journalists is the fault of the MAG itself and Janez Jansa, because if DELO would have never bought MAG this would have never happened, right?

    Actually, what I was trying to say is that MAG got a taste of Janša’s own medicine. And since people on Mag didn’t blink an eye when Slivnik and Jančič were re-creating Delo according to Janša’s image, I can’t say I’m surprised when the rest of Slovene journialists gave a lackluster support to Silvester Šurla and his team when Veso Stojanov took up re-creating Mag according to Boško Šrot’s image.

    As for the rest of your rambling – you’ll have to deal with your ghost yourself.

    And after you do that – would you mind explaining how principles of democracy work in your opinion? My view on democracy can be found here 🙂

  12. Oh boy… Stepped on a few toes, have I?
    Not really. I knew that Slovene journalists are stupid. I just didn’t know they are ignorant stupid. My compliments. It takes many years of practice to reach that category. The Slovene “professional journalists” must feel very proud to be one of the few chosen ones. With the salaries they are getting for their cocksucking it is no wonder they don’t care for the reputation of their own profession what alone their own.

    None of this things ammount to censorship – they do however ammount to lazyness, propagandism, incompetence and auto-censoship. Journalism never was and never will be immune to those. And – for the record – all of them are deplorable. most of them are also personified by the likes of Vlado Vodušek.
    Ah, I see. So the auto-censorship is not a censorship. Interesting.

    If anything is deplorable than it is your obession with Vlado Vodusek.

    Wrong. By this measure everything is censored as report on roughly only 10% of all events of any given day.
    Yes, as long as they are not about mayor Jankovic and his widely publicized unforeseen and unseen exploits in the city of Ljubljana. hehe… 🙂

    So let me see if I got this right: When a “professional” journalist decides to publish a bad news this is not censorship but unbiased reporting. When he or she by any chance (or mistake) slips through anything good about the government then this is biased reported spiced with censorship and cocksucking.

    How I am doing?

    Have you ever head of “proffesional support” – if your colleague has a problem you can express support, even if only on a general level. It does not imply that you have the same problem, but that you recognize that a problem exists.
    You mean like you are writing a petition now for MAG journalists? Yes, I know that kind of “professional” support.

    Errr…. Everything?
    You mean there is no more the Eternal Janez Kocijancic at the head of the council? Yes, I can see how this can represent a great loss for some.

    It was in public domain much more than it is now. I never said that it was perfect pre-2004, but now it is even worse.
    More in public domain? Please do elaborate. Just because we don’t get to see Simona Rakusa (she’s nice and professional) anymore on the screen, this doesn’t mean that it is no longer in public domain. It is just not in the exclusive domain of a small clique of people or political circles if you want.

    I lost your respect? Or did we lose your respect? As far as Bajuk’s govenrment is considered – now that was a sad chapter
    Not as sad as it was for journalism in Slovenia.

    You can’t loose what you never had. 🙂

    Wrong – Janša did get a hold on Delo. And he held on to it up until ASK and then Laško parted ways with him (in early 2007)
    And this “hold” demonstrated itself in what way? He ordered himself a dozen of interviews, where he was asked the right questions?

    I told you before and I tell you again: Get me the transcript of Drnovsek’s or Rop’s interviews and we shall see how many times have the professionalites asked the questions about inflation or unemployment. Please. Can you do this?

    Actually, what I was trying to say is that MAG got a taste of Janša’s own medicine. And since people on Mag didn’t blink an eye when Slivnik and Jančič were re-creating Delo according to Janša’s image, I can’t say I’m surprised when the rest of Slovene journialists gave a lackluster support to Silvester Šurla and his team when Veso Stojanov took up re-creating Mag according to Boško Šrot’s image.
    Don’t get me wrong. I actually glad that MAG was overtaken as it was. If nothing else it did beautifully crystallize some things which needed to get in order to understand some things. Doggy Miheljak this beautifully explained in one of his columns in Dnevnik.

    And after you do that – would you mind explaining how principles of democracy work in your opinion?
    It is simple. To summarize it with one sentence:

    Equal opportunities.

  13. I knew that Slovene journalists are stupid.
    Ah well… comes from dealing with stupid people, I guess

    Ah, I see. So the auto-censorship is not a censorship. Interesting.
    It’s different than political censoship. Self-censorship is a state of mind, whereas censorship is an act of powers that be.

    So let me see if I got this right: When a “professional” journalist decides to publish a bad news this is not censorship but unbiased reporting. When he or she by any chance (or mistake) slips through anything good about the government then this is biased reported spiced with censorship and cocksucking.
    You really refuse to get it, do you? Political censorship means preventing the publishing of a journalistic piece based on how critical the piece is towards the government. End of story.

    Yes, as long as they are not about mayor Jankovic and his widely publicized unforeseen and unseen exploits in the city of Ljubljana. hehe…
    Hey – the guy is newsworthy. As is everything else that goes on in Ljubljana.

    You mean there is no more the Eternal Janez Kocijancic at the head of the council? Yes, I can see how this can represent a great loss for some.
    Actually I don’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about Kocijančič.

    More in public domain? Please do elaborate.
    Gladly – with the current legislation the majority of members of the Board are named either by the government or by the ruling coalition in the parliament. The membership of NGOs, educational, cultural and other instituttions of the civil society has been greatly reduced. That’s what I mean about RTVSLO being more in public domain prior to the new law.

    You can’t loose what you never had
    Are you by any chance quoting Janša on Mercator?

    And this “hold” demonstrated itself in what way? He ordered himself a dozen of interviews, where he was asked the right questions?
    Well, now that you mention it: he did grant an awful lot of interviews to Sobotna Priloga – something he regurarely refused before he got hold of the newspaper. But it was also demonstrated in removal of unwanted journalists from their posts, rewriting or severely editing articled and basically having fun with the C word.

    I told you before and I tell you again: Get me the transcript of Drnovsek’s or Rop’s interviews and we shall see how many times have the professionalites asked the questions about inflation or unemployment. Please. Can you do this?
    Google it. You seem to now all about the media – so I guess a simple lookup of secondary sources shouldn’t be too difficult for a braniac of your kind.

    It is simple. To summarize it with one sentence:
    Equal opportunities.

    So… like… The LDS had the opportunity to mess with the media for twelve years and now you guys can do it for another twelve?

    Well, let me tell you something: at the very least they knew they were wrong to do it and had tried to cover it up – whereas you guys think that’s just the way it is. Both of you are despicable, but you guys are pathetic as well.

Comments are closed.