Roma issues dealt with poorly
I would like to clarify a couple of items which were published in the Vol. 7, No. 22 June 4-10 issue of The Slovak Spectator.
In the article, "The Roma in domestic media", the Center for Independent Journalism and the InfoRoma Foundation were listed as the organisers of the first annual Preparatory Course for Romany Journalists in Slovakia. I realise this is an excerpt from a book, but the information is faulty. The Center for Independent Journalism is the sole organiser of the Roma Mainstream Media Internship Program in Slovakia. We work with a number of Roma organisations and media during the recruitment process. Our aim is to open the programme up to young Roma from all over Slovakia, regardless of affiliation.
I congratulate you on your article on Ivan Hriczko. There was a small blemish, however. In the caption under the picture, you mention that Miss Roma Vlasta Tokolyová is another graduate of the Bratislava course. Vlasta was Miss Roma a number of years ago, that is true. What is a greater honour, though, is that she is the first Romany woman staff reporter at a mainstream television station in Slovakia.
In an issue of the newspaper that concentrated on Roma in the media, I was very disappointed at your choice of short news in the "Around Slovakia" section. The article "Roma kids skip school to sell sand" was really objectionable.
How many stereotypes can be crammed into one short news article? Roma sell things that don't belong to them. Roma children are truants. They learn from their parents about sick leave as a way to dodge work and school. What is the news value in this article? Would it have been as interesting if the ethnic identifier had not been used? Would you have used this same article in the American media with an ethnic identifier?
I enjoy reading The Slovak Spectator, in general. For all the good intentions of reporting on Roma in the media, though, this issue fell short.
Roma Projects Coordinator
Center for Independent Journalism, Bratislava
Schuster was the lesser of two evils
Everybody knows the election of President Rudolf Schuster was just a lesser evil [Re: "Vanity, all is vanity: Said preacher of Schuster", Vol. 7 No. 25, June 25-July 1]. It was not about voting for him, but rather not allowing Mečiar to make a three-peat. Actually, nobody cared about Schuster, not his personality nor his suitability for the job. It was quite obvious that he would not be acceptable for the job. Again, he was simply the lesser of two evils.
The Spectator's criticism of Schuster was unfair
The main impediments to freedom of speech are not only ageing politicians with a chequered past, but also a lack of a viable opposition press. The current situation is reminiscent of the previous regime where, as if on cue, the press as one voice would sing the same tune. The same happened after Schuster's speech in parliament and the cast of critics included even The Spectator.
As for myself, I found the speech charmingly to the point with many concrete facts such as the leaking roof of a theatre. Not bad for an ageing former communist. His points could have been attacked instead of the person. Get responsible!
Slovakia keeps rolling towards the EU
I think Slovakia has done a remarkable job concerning the integration process ["EU welcome suddenly warmer" by Ed Holt Vol. 7 No. 25, June 25-July 1]. Only optimists believed back in the autumn of 1998 that Slovakia would be a top runner for NATO expansion in 2002. Even more, I personally didn't expect Slovakia to surpass Poland this quickly (only 18 months or so after it started negotiating with the EU), and it even is expected Slovakia will close two, possibly three chapters this week. That's a very positive result.
I know Dzurinda's cabinet is losing some popularity on their home turf (in my opinion mainly as a result of the reserved attitude of the SDĽ for quicker reforms), but they do deserve a big applause for their integration success. Now I'm a believer, I think by the end of next year we'll be a part of NATO as well as invited to join the EU. Keep on rolling!