Ljubljana – The Slovenian Press Agency (STA) was founded 30 years ago as part of preparations for Slovenia’s declaration of independence. The agency started operation amid great uncertainty, according to STA’s first director Dejan Verčič.
The ideas about forming a national agency in Slovenia emerged in the late 1980s. The initiators of the project thought that Slovenia should no longer be dependent on the Yugoslav press agency Tanjug and should have its own press agency, one which would answer to the people not politicians and at the same time act as essential communication infrastructure as the country declares independence.
Articles of association were signed by the Slovenian government and the company INI on 24 May 1991. On 3 June, the STA was registered as a company and Verčič became its first director.
The STA was founded to prepare ground in the international community for Slovenia’s independence in communication terms. The first thing it published was a news bulletin.
“As we distributed the bulletin we were building a base of subscribers encompassing foreign ambassadors, various influential individuals abroad and finally also other parts of Yugoslavia, especially Belgrade, where foreign embassies were,” Verčič told the STA.
Slovenian media were ready to embrace the STA service as well, as they had been proposing such a service for a while.
“And in a way everyone was relieved that they can slowly begin to move from Tanjug to the STA. And we must not forget that just as today the majority of the most important decision-makers in Slovenia use STA services to stay informed, back then political decision-makers also used first Tanjug and then … they could move to the STA,” Verčič said.
At the outset, the STA had more than a hundred users. “The purpose of the STA is to provide rapid information to foreign media and other institutions abroad about events in Slovenia and at the same time provide information to Slovenian media,” reads the first STA news article, published on 20 June 1991.
“The first days of the STA were marked mainly by the great uncertainty that Slovenia was in at the time because none of us knew how Belgrade will react to the declaration of independence,” Verčič said.
The news items were sent out via telefax. Some of the most important news items were written by hand and then immediately sent to a few hundred addresses abroad via telefax to inform them of what was going on in Slovenia, Verčič said.
The ten-day war for Slovenian independence started on 26 June 1991. Armed combat started on 27 June 1991, when the Yugoslav forces started moving towards border crossings in the morning. In the following days, Slovenian forces regained control of most of the border crossings.
From its modest and challenging beginning during the short independence war, the STA has evolved in the last 30 years into a modern media service delivering news articles, radio content, photos and other multiple other services.
On average, the STA releases over 350 news items in Slovenian and English a day. After 30 years of providing public service, the STA archive boasts more than 2.79 million news articles, over 942,000 photos and more than 133,000 audio recordings.
The STA reports cover virtually all fields, and recently also the Covid-19 epidemic. So far over 41,000 news articles with the key word coronavirus have been published in Slovenian and English.
However, the STA, which currently employs over 80 journalists, photographers and other employees, marks its 30th anniversary amid a battle for survival.
It has received no funds from the state for its public service for 153 days despite the fact that the government is obligated to pay for the service under the STA act and the 7th coronavirus relief package.