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By reporting on the criticism of Jože P. Damijan’s programme, the media would spit in their own face – and undermine months of “building up” the KUL coalition!

Jože P. Damijan (Foto: STA)

“This case also clearly shows that most of the media outlets are, in fact, involved in political activism. This is inadmissible, especially with a person who is this important at the moment, that is, with someone who wants to become the Prime Minister. It is inadmissible to ignore the fact that another great expert – for whom it should also be said that he is working with the government – completely tore his programme apart on a professional level, regarding the measures that were presented in it. This would undermine these last few months of their building up the Constitutional Arch Coalition (Koalicija ustavnega loka – referred to as KUL), the mainstream media would practically spit in their own face,” an expert in the field of strategic communication, Sebastjan Jeretič, M.Sc., commented on the decision of the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – referred to as STA) and some other media outlets to not report on the argumentative criticism of Jože P. Damijan’s programme.

We have already reported on the fact that a few days ago, the economist Igor Masten, Ph.D., spoke up, and criticised part of Jože P. Damijan and the KUL coalition’s programme. He was especially bothered by the part that talks about the liquidity scheme, writing the following: “The part of the programme that talks about the liquidity scheme, has 117 words. So far, I have believed that it is physically impossible to write nonsense with such density. What else is there in the remaining 32 thousand words?!” The media like to report on the KUL coalition’s candidate for the position of Prime Minister; even if he only talks about letting some air into the premises as a way to combat the epidemic, however, they do not like to report on those who clearly show that Damijan does not really know what he is talking about, not even in his own field of expertise. In this particular case, there is no indication of the STA performing its function of a public service, which stipulates that it should constantly, comprehensively, accurately and objectively provide information on the events in the Republic of Slovenia.

Regarding the liquidity scheme of the KUL programme, Masten pointed out the following: “First of all, the proposal is inconsistent with the European Commission’s temporary framework on state aid in the COVID crisis. Both in terms of maturity and interest rates. Online applications? Sounds very cool, digital. In practice, this means that 14 banks would have to create 14 applications. High costs, only a few suitable contractors on the market. The banks can hardly wait! The vaccine will be available at the newsagents’ shops before KUL is digital. Implementation is transferred to the banks. It should be transferred to banks – from banks that are already implementing the scheme?! The SID bank would assume liabilities to banks???? Only the borrowers have liabilities to banks. So, would the SID bank take on the obligation to repay the loans?!”

Director of the Government Communication Office, Uroš Urbanija, also noticed that the STA did not report on Masten’s criticism, writing that the STA clearly had the time to report on the financing of the STA public service, but did not report on the criticism of the KUL’s programme. With such moves being made by the STA, many people rightly believe that they are not acting objectively and professionally, as would otherwise be expected of them. Urbanija also criticised this, writing the following: “I am searching for an article, about what the respected economist Igor Masten said about Jože P. Damijan’s KUL programme, on the STA service. Sadly, no article has been written about this. They probably autonomously decided that this should not be reported on. The experience of director Veselinovič once throwing the editor-in-chief Meško out on the street is still alive.”

The media praised Damijan to the skies for no reason, and by reporting on the criticism, he would lose his professional reputation
“The media did not cover this because their candidate for the position of Prime Minister was professionally torn to shreds in his own field of expertise, so on his own territory,” Sebastjan Jeretič explained. The expert in the field of strategic communication also said that Masten did not criticise the health measures in the programme, so Damijan could make up an excuse, saying that someone else had advised him on the matter. This was a question of financial and economic policy.

“Masten said that what Damijan was proposing was in complete contradiction with the European rules for state aid, that is, with the basic alphabet that Damijan should know before he can talk about anything in this area. And because the candidate who has been praised to the skies by the media in the last couple of months could completely lose his professional reputation because of this, it is quite clear that they would rather ignore this.” When you look at it this way, this does not seem strange at all, Jeretič said, adding that this case also showed that most of the media outlets are, in fact, political activists.

“This is inadmissible, especially with a person who is this important at the moment, that is, with someone who wants to become the Prime Minister. It is inadmissible to ignore the fact that another great expert – for whom it should also be said that he is working with the government – completely tore his programme apart on a professional level, regarding the measures that were presented in it. This would undermine these last few months of their building up the KUL coalition; the mainstream media would practically spit in their own face,” Jeretič concluded his explanation.

If the agency does not report on something, is it like it did not happen?
One of the founders of the STA, Franc Perčič, recently said that STA has become a credible, reliable, and generally accepted media outlet. Additionally, he told for Večer that he believes in the objectivity of the agency and pointed out the importance of its function: “If the agency does not report on something, it is like it did not happen.” Well, if they purposely decide to not report on certain things, it is difficult to talk about objectivity and credibility. However, Perčič’s statement makes it easier to understand the purpose and logic behind their non-reporting. The criticism of Damijan simply did not happen, because it was not reported on.

Jelko Kacin, who is also one of the founders of the STA, also commented on the recent events regarding STA and the Government Communication Office, saying that it really is inappropriate to make any of the STA employees, who are currently working in very difficult conditions, wonder if they will receive their salary or not. However, he also emphasised that with such a large share of co-financing of the STA with budgetary money, it is certainly wise that the budgetary partner monitors and questions how the money is spent.

It is also appropriate for us, the recipients of the news, to ask ourselves why the priority discussions in some media outlets clearly lean in only one direction, and why certain important things are not reported on at all – even though we pay for this reporting.

Sara Bertoncelj