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.
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.