At the beginning of September, Slovakia's independent Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) will release a CD Rom version of Slovakia 1997, the Institute's influential collection of analytical essays on Slovak affairs.
"The aim is to distribute the CD Rom free of charge to foreign journalists who are coming to cover the elections," said Richard Rybníček, executive director of IVO.
The CD Rom is based on a book which comprises 24 essays on problematic issues in Slovak cultural, economic and political life. The electronic version offers the added advantage of a subject search, which allows users to hone in on references to a specific issue. The electronic medium will also contain IVO's latest publication, a study of Slovak public opinion called Democracy and Discontent in Slovakia.
"I believe foreign journalists will find the CD Rom useful and interesting," said Ján Fule, head of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists. Although the Syndicate can provide visiting journalists and political observers with some materials on Slovakia, he added, the IVO product covers a much broader spectrum.
Given the prospect of large numbers of foreign journalists and observers coming to watch September's national elections, as well as the overall increase in foreign tourists, IVO decided to launch an initial print run of 1,000 copies of the CD. "But if journalists show enough interest, we can have more printed," Rybníček explained.
Although the question of distribution has not been answered yet, IVO was applying to the Syndicate of Journalists and the Central Election Committee for their help. Fule, for his part, said not only that the Syndicate would hand out the CD Rom to foreign journalists who showed up at its office during the election period, but also that "we plan to spread it around during the conference of the International Federation of Journalists, which will take place from September 24 to 26."
Both books that are featured on the CD Rom are already available on the IVO web page at http://www.ivo.sk. The only difference is the subject search, which the internet version does not offer.
Rybníček said that with the new CD Rom project, IVO had entered a new era. "We would like to keep on the same track and print a CD Rom along with every new book we publish hereafter," he said.