Ljubljana – The Slovenian Press Agency (STA) will celebrate its 30th birthday this year only days before the country observes the 30th anniversary of its independence in June. From its humble beginnings as a single-desk agency, the STA has grown to become a modern media service provider.
The STA was launched on 20 June 1991, only five days before Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Before its inception only the Yugoslav Tanjug agency operated in the country.
The goal was to create an autonomous agency responsible to the public and not to politics, and to put in place vital communication infrastructure in the new state.
The agreement establishing the agency, between the Slovenian government and the company INI, was signed on 24 May 1991. The agency was established on 3 June and its first director was Dejan Verčič.
The STA’s first offices were in Cankarjeva Street in Ljubljana, only a stone’s throw from Parliament House and Cankarjev Dom, where daily press briefings were held during the Independence War that broke out on 27 June.
The agency started out as a single desk with only a few journalists sending out news about Slovenia to domestic and foreign audiences via fax machines.
Today, it employs more than 80 journalists, photographers and other contributors. While the majority of its staff works at the central offices in Ljubljana, the agency also has a number of correspondents dispersed around the country, as well as foreign correspondents in Brussels, New York and Zagreb.
In 2011, the STA act was passed in parliament, ensuring the agency’s independence, autonomy and funding. The STA, which is fully state-owned, is obligated by law to operate according to the principles of independent, unbiased and professional journalism and may not become dependent on any ideological, political or economic group.
In the summer of 2020, attempts were made by the government to amend the 2011 act so as to change its funding and management. The agency labelled the proposal a great step backwards in terms of autonomy and independence.
Then, in November 2020, the Government’s Communication Office (UKOM), which transfers the public funds for the performance of public service to the agency, stopped funding the agency. The STA is yet to sign the public service agreement with UKOM for this year, an issue undermining the agency’s financial stability.
STA director Bojan Veselinovič, who has been at the helm of the agency since 2009, said that “the STA is the backbone of the nation’s media industry and therefore a key player in informing the general public.
“With media in Slovenia being in a demanding situation in terms of funding and development, the STA plays a very important role.”
Editor-in-chief Barbara Štrukelj underlined that the STA “delivers to its users independent, up-to-date and credible information and supports their transformation to digital. We’ve achieved a lot with our in-house know-how.”
In the past 30 years the agency has produced more than 2.7 million news items, over 92,000 photos and nearly 130,000 audio recordings for its clients.
On average, the STA releases over 350 news items in Slovenian and English a day, covering politics and economy, science, technology, culture and sports.
The STA’s English desk is a leading source of foreign-language news about Slovenia and has so far released more than 260,000 news items. The agency has been publishing news about Slovenia in English since the get-go. First, translation services were outsourced until the English desk was set up in May 1994.
The agency’s photo desk was launched in 2006 and radio service, which provides audio clips for radio stations, in 2009. The STA has also been developing video services, with streaming proving vital during the coronavirus pandemic.
The STA’s clients include media outlets, businesses and a number of public and private institutions. Apart from the public news service, the STA has been providing commercial content, which has become an important source of income for the agency.
Another milestone in the agency’s development are strategic partnerships in international R&D projects. One of the many innovative solutions, which the agency has been integrating in its work, is NewsMapper, an advanced article-tracking tool that made the European Commission’s list of the best European innovations in 2020.
The STA is a member of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA), the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) and cooperates in associations bringing together Mediterranean and Balkan press agencies. It is also a partner of leading global press agencies.