Social security highlighted on Press Freedom Day
In Slovenia, Marko Milosavljević of the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences has pointed to the precarious social situation of journalists as a key issue.
Last year, 67 journalists lost their lives because of their work, which is one more than in 2014, according to Journalists Without Borders. A total of 110 journalists were killed in 2015, but for the rest of them a clear connection between their work and death cannot be established.
While pressure on the media is not so extreme in Slovenia, the country has been sliding in international media freedom rankings in recent years. For example, it is ranked as a free country by the NGO Freedom House, which placed it 19th, in the middle of the Europe rankings.
Slovenian journalist associations have however highlighted journalists' precarious social status and the widespread use of precarious forms of employment as the main factor eroding media freedom in the country.
While the media freedom situation in Slovenia is still relatively OK compared for instance to Poland as well as Hungary and Croatia, "this doesn't mean that it is absolute or self-evident", President of the Association of Slovenian Journalists (DNS) Petra Lesjak Tušek stressed.
According to her, as many as two thirds of Slovenian journalists work in precarious forms of employment, which negatively affects autonomy, the cornerstone of media freedom. However, there are positive journalistic projects that prove the profession is still considered free.
President of the Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) Tino Mamić meanwhile pointed to the lack of media plurality in Slovenia as "not a single centre-right daily is published". According to him, democracy is flawed and maimed without media plurality.
He added that the quality of Slovenian journalism has also deteriorated in recent years: "If you don't believe, buy three Croatian or three Italian papers and compare them to the Slovenian. Eyes only, even without knowing the language, will show you a huge difference." This is due to the fact that everyone can become a journalist in Slovenia and get the same pay as the fully educated one, according to him.
Mamić moreover touched on what he said is media support for trade unions and the public sector that prevents any change and development in the economy as well as generalised and cynical writing about the recent past.
Journalists Without Borders meanwhile listed criminalisation of defamation and frequent lawsuits of journalists by known politicians as additional factors. The association also took issue with the right to correction and the possibility for courts to order journalists to reveal their sources.
Slovenia has also found itself at the Council of Europe's Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists three times in the past year.
Milosavljević believes Slovenia should ask itself what kind of journalism it wants so as to be a normal democratic country. "I'd say we agree that only American production and the recycling of content, namely commercial content...don't bring much added societal value," he told the STA.
According to him, the specific debilitating characteristics of the Slovenian media landscape include the small size of the market, the relatively poor prospects for specialised reporters in major media outlets, and the shrinking network of foreign correspondents.
Milosavljević would like to see media donors or funds in the country, as is usual in the US or the West in general, where it is seen as part of democratic culture.
The theme of this year's World Press Freedom Day, which was declared by the UN in 1993, is Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms - This Is Your Right!