The editors of leading Slovenian media outlets on Wednesday issued a letter to the domestic public, stressing that they would not allow interference in independent reporting despite attempts by politicians to depict them as disseminators of fake news in the current coronavirus pandemic.
"We are aware of our responsibility in the current health crisis and the need for measures that are being adopted also by other countries. But that cannot be used as an alibi for attempts at political interference in media autonomy. We will not give in to increasing pressure or give up on our commitment to the truth and public interest," the media outlets said in the open letter.
The letter was signed by 22 editors-in-chief of leading media outlets, including editors of news desks of the public radio and television, leading dailies and news portals, the STA news agency and more prominent weeklies.
As for communication between the government and reporters during the coronavirus pandemic, they said that unlike other countries, which adopt severe restrictions to contain the virus, in Slovenia, the ruling structures attack, discredit and vilify media and reporters "directly or through various media and other channels."
Going public with false explanations as to why something has been published by the media, spreading accusations that the media publish fake news or encourage resistance to the government's measures, "throws reporters and media into the political arena," the editors note, warning that they do not want to and will not accept this.
"Such attacks on the media have a devastating effect on the entire society. Such an atmosphere makes the work of state institutions and individuals more difficult and it also affects the lives of other citizens," the editors say in reference to attempts by some of the ruling structures to exert pressure on them.
"State officials should use the energy they use to discredit reporters... to better manage the crisis. That would be in the interest of the entire society," reads the letter.
Slovenian media have been under increased pressure from the ruling structures in recent months. Prime Minister Janez Jansa has attacked them on social networks several times, accusing them of favouring the opposition and parties of "the far left" and demanding personnel changes in the media founded by the state.