Slovenski Tednik

Remember Sinfo? (click if no) This monthly magazine presents Slovenian government’s take on the matters to English speaking readers. Which is all fine and dandy except that most English-speaking readers (i.e.: ex-pats, foreign journalists and businesss people) don’t matter a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys, as they don’t have a vote in parliamentary elections.

This week’s edition of Slovenski Tednik

And since Janša & Co. lost control of the largest Slovene newspaper and are faced with increasingly independent state media (a contradiction in terms, I know!), steps have been made to influence public opinion and nudge it in the right direction (right being the operative word here). Enter Slovenski Tednik (Slovenian Weekly), a weekly rag which is distributed for free in all but eleven Slovene municipalities (which just happen to be the eleven Slovene cities, where population tends to lean a bit more to the left side of political spectrum).

Now, the funny thing about this particular sorry excuse for a newspaper is its partisan style which would make even Fox News blush. Picking up the current issue, one can read the following titles: “Our Veto Not Excluded” saying that Janša’s government is threatening Croatia to veto its accession to the EU (not true). “Leftist Artiliery Agains The Government”, where it accuses the union leaders of being associated with the opposition (which they are), but it does not specify what sort of crime that should be. It just says that their Communist past shows through the type of songs they play at their rallies (they even play The Internationale, imagine!) and so on and so on.

Now, I’ve nothing against opinionated media. Quite au-contraire – I am ever more convinced that neutrality does not equal objectivity (the fact that this position presumes existance of an educated reader/listener/viewer is stuff of a whole new post). There is however a big difference between opinionated media producion which more or less gives both sides of the story and contextualises them on one hand and Voelkische-Beobacther-like rags and horns which hail our fearless leadership, which has all the answers.

And just to be totally fair, I must add that Slovenski Tednik is privately owned which in theory gives its ownership the freedom to print whatever content they see fit. The fact that the founder of the rag is closely connected to the rulling party is only an added bonus. On the other hand every Slovene municipality has its own Pravda, with a mayor’s “editorial” at the beginning and the rest of the paper extolling the virtues of a particular mayor and his team. Ljubljana magazine, aptly named “Ljubljana” is no exception to the rule. But these magazines are both presented and perceived as a sort of local versions of Sinfo. While Slovenski Tednik pretends to be a proper newspaper. We’ll see if the forces of market economy, so hailed by this government during its earlier stages will do the trick and send the paper to media-oblivion where it will join Republika, Slovenec and Jutranjik, dailies which in their own time tried to shape the public opinion, but instead the public shaped them into a roll and sent them flying to the nearest dust-bin.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

25 thoughts on “Slovenski Tednik”

  1. Slovenski Tednik is a result of a switch in the approach of right-wing parties to media in Slovenia. Since left-wing parties control most of the media it is difficult for a right wing government to rule.

    Hostile media turns everything into some sort of disaster. Successes are not reported, failures are multiplied. It does not really matter if some measure has generally good or bad results because people don’t have the means to find out.

    The solution of right-wingers was to try to change existing media to report things more objectively. But this has failed. Now the new approach is the one that was proposed by the liberals/libertarians.

    Our point of view was very simple. The usefulness of particular newspaper for communication with public is

    u = C * p

    where C is coverage and p is the possibility that they will publish whatever you have to say in an objective manner.

    Since (with left in control of existing media) p is close to zero – C becomes irrelevant. Or -in other words- existing left-wing media is useless for political right. It is as if it was part of the opposition.

    So new policy is to create new media rather then try to fight for control of existing ones. In my opinion this is very good for the country. For over 60 years we’ve only had left-wing interpretations of events. That resulted in tragic rejection of free market reforms three years ago. People need a choice.

    I think this is just the beginning. Now that decision has been take to abandon any hope of cooperation with left wing media you will see birth of newspapers and televisions on a regular basis. At least 30% of the population supports right wing and they are without a newspaper that would publish their viewpoint. That sounds like a good market opportunity.

    So you are right there. It is time for Slovenian FOX.

  2. If I may add one more thought. You wrote that

    “ST is distributed for free in all but eleven Slovene municipalities (which just happen to be the eleven Slovene cities, where population tends to lean a bit more to the left side of political spectrum).”

    Okay. If you were to open a private newspaper for the right-wingers would you distribute it in muncipalities with predominately left-wing population? Sounds like a sane market logic to me.

  3. You see, the italian solution for media concentration and partiality is simpler – especially regarding television…

  4. @Štih: Nobody said that ruling is easy. I fail to see why media should make it easy for the government to rule. But no matter – we’ll have ample opportunity to pour over that one.

    Your use of simple mathematical formula to represent is both flawed and misleading.

    1.) Flawed in the sense that variable “p” is not something that can be measured on an indefinite linear scale, but rather a qualitative assesment of both a particular piece as well as on the whole, which gives you at least a varible within a variable. Admittedly, mathematics is not my forte, but even I can see that you are acting like teachers of physics in secondary school: “this variable is too difficult to compute, so we’ll just neglect it”.

    2.) Misleading in the sense that you’re attempting to measure “usefulness”. Usefulness to whom? To the government? Why would you measure that if you aim to to “create” free and independent media? Usefulness to the people? In this case I think you should change your equation to reflect copies sold, reach, advertising revenue and net profit/loss. In other words – see if the paper is viable or not. Very simple.

    My bet is that Slovenski Tednik will not last. But if it finds a market – hey, live and let live!

    While we’re on that and your claim that hostile media don’t report on sucesses: This last issue will show you that not a single sucess is reported on, it falsely reports on a foreign diplomacy move (JJ denied to have threatned with a veto) and the fact that the EU might speed up coughing up money for Železniki floods.

    The rest of the paper are just firebrand attacks on enemies-du-jour.

    @pele: More likely Demokracija is too expensive to print and distribute on that scale 🙂

    @fabio: Well, then there’s that too 🙂 We’ve had mini-Berlusconis here, but they’re struggling…

  5. I welcome the slovenski tednik – i think it’s great. I admit, haven’t read it yet, but it was handy for stuffing my wet shoes with it.
    I want more, hope it will be daily soon 🙂

  6. “Successes are not reported, failures are multiplied. It does not really matter if some measure has generally good or bad results because people don’t have the means to find out.”
    I didn’t know that there is success only when reported. I didn’t know that people must have means to find out that there is better living, higher income, more freedom ….
    Oh, yes,people are dumb and dumber and there must be somebody to tell them what’s going on.
    Thank you Mr. Štih for doing that job! Long live JJ!

  7. Davor, as you correctly concluded, people depend on media to form opinions. Written media in Slovenia in particular. It does not mean that they are dumb; just that they are practical. I understand that you left-wingers won’t recognize media control and propaganda. At least in that you’re no different from the government. And that is one reason more it is impossible to work with left – wing media. It just won’t recognize its own bias. I think dividing media landscape to left-wing Dnevnik, Delo, Mladina, Vecer, Slovenske Novice, Nedeljski Dnevnik & others and few right wing newspapers will introduce the much needed transparency. We’ll know who controls what and leave the rest to the market.

  8. @Štih: By “working with left-wing media” you mean “promoting my agenda”?

    I mean – go ahead, have fun with your own media. If it survives on the market, that is. There is only one rule out there – you have to be better or funkier than anyone else if you really want to succeed.

    But mark my words: Slovenski Tednik is neither better nor funkier than anything out there. It is but a pre-election tool which will have outlived its usefulness some time soon after the elections. Regardless of who wins.

  9. No. What I mean is not promoting left-wing agenda at all costs. You know, the usual stuff. 1:10 ration in left vs. right viewpoints. Hostile interviews for right and friendly interviews for left. Promoting topics that serve political objectives of left. Positive articles on left issues, negative articles on right issues. Planned news – news that are preagreed between left media to raise their importance. Creating left wing parlance. Attacking any criticism or study of left wing media hegemony. Relativizing period of socialism. Enabling left wing parties, especially Zares, to appear in every issue with some childish opinions and preventing others from responding. News making in favour of the left.

    When I am talking about new media I am not talking only about Slovenski tednik but about everything that is still coming.

    p.s. It is not my media. But it is a place for me to freely publish my opinions. Something the left media would never allow.

  10. @ Štih: You’re so full of shit. Left-wing newspapers are not biased, but analytical and critical. Reading your blog, it seems you have just landed on Earth after years travelling through some toxic neolibertarian soup of spaced-out ideas. This evangelical streak in your writing, oh boy, have you come to enlighten us who dwell in the darkness of socialism? For fuck sakes, start your own newspaper, get yourself a political party and get the fuck out of my sight.

  11. Of course they are “analytical and critical.” Those are the exact words I’ve been looking for to describe left-wing media. Thank you.
    “Left wing newspapers are not biased, they are analytical and critical.”
    Any more statements like this one for our international friends to demonstrate my points?

  12. And what’s your point, exactly? That you cannot seem to find not even one rubbish of a newspaper to publish in? Face it, Štih, that may not lie in the newspapers’ left-wingness, but in your lack of talent. But I can understand that you have to vent your frustration and the so-called left-wing media are a perfect target. Intelectually superior, stylistically out of your reach – no wonder that you engage in McCarthy-like witch hunts, publishing lists of politically “compromised” journalists. Well, that is about as far as you will get.

  13. @HorseManure: Mind your manners, please. Štih may not be a generaly likable character (I wouldn’t know, I never met the guy), but fact of the matter is that he managed to keep his debate civil thusfar. Please extend the same courtesy.

    @Štih: You’re using eliptycal arguments and getting nowhere. You see, your problem is not “biased” media, but “left-wing” media. I.e.: in your world media is biased because it is left-wing. You equate left-wing and biased and right-wing and objective. This post shows that this premise is utterly wrong.

    I’ve yet to see your opinions published by the “new & objective” and – believe me – I’m not holding my breath. Trust me, the only thing media are interested in promoting is themselves – left wing or right wing. And if you think media are promoting left wing agenda, then you will no doubtedly provide evidence to that effect.

    As for Zares, I think you’re seeing ghosts. I keep seeing reports on both coalition and opposition activities, with stupidities being slightly more concentrated on the political right, but I’d put that down to a PR that leaves a lot to be desired.

  14. “intelectually superior, stylistically out of your reach – no wonder that you engage in McCarthy-like witch hunts, publishing lists of politically “compromised” journalists”

    You know…you can call left wing media “The People” and me “Faschists” if you want too. Won’t change my message of right wing views generally being ignored. It will just strenghten it.

  15. Publishing names of left wing political activists in media is generally not bad for the media. It helps us establishing more transparency in media. I don’t mind media being left wing. It’s their liberty.

  16. Why a wall of shame? I belive journalists have right to hold specific worldviews and opinions; but readers have right to know it. So I see it more like a “disclaimer about political orientation”. When you need news that could be politicized you then check two journalists with opposint worldviews to get fully informed. This is sort of consumer mechanism.

  17. Journalists or activists… Make up your mind. The two are not the same, even though you are keen on demonstrating just that.

  18. Well, might you could then ask yourself what is a difference between a journalist with right wing views and symphaties for a particular political party writing a column out of his/her conviction; and an activist?

    Obviously, the difference is in the fact that one is a journalist and the other an activist. Regardless of political persuasion.

    As for Reporter: firstly – and I don’t want to be too anal retentive over it – a magazine is not the same as a newspaper. Let alone a daily newspaper. And secondly – they better have a good marketing strategy and a lot of financial. Otherwise they will run aground very soon.

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