WHILE the Association of Spokespersons of Slovakia (AHS) handed out its prizes for the year’s best spokespeople on October 11 without any controversy, the prize for the worst spokesperson, which was supposed to go to the head of the Government Office’s press department, Erik Tomáš, was cancelled.
A 12-member jury decides who wins the prize, known as the Raspberry, which goes to the worst spokesperson. It nominated Erik Tomáš and the spokesperson of the president’s office, Marek Trubač, who won the prize two years ago.
Tomáš was eventually selected to receive the Raspberry, for what jury member Arpád Soltész cited as his reliance on threats and arrogance when dealing with the media.
Shortly before the prizes were awarded, however, the Council of the AHS cancelled the Raspberry prize altogether. The council consists of seven spokespeople, two of whom (Transport Ministry spokesperson Stanislav Jurikovič and the prime minister’s spokesperson, Beatrice Szabóová) work for the government. Jurikovič proposed scrapping the Raspberry after it was revealed that it would go to Tomáš, the Sme daily reported.
“In the past there had been clear mishaps on the part of the spokespersons,” Jurikovič told Sme, adding that this was not the case this year, and that the Raspberry for Tomáš was only motivated by what he called bad relations with the media.
The jury members admitted to Sme that there was pressure from Tomáš to scrap the Raspberry, and that some sponsors wanted to back out of the event.
The Association cited “doubtfulness of the nomination process and politicisation of the selection of candidates” as the reason for scrapping the Raspberry, in its official statement.
“The entire Raspberry moved into a hard political level due to the fact that someone did not handle his ego and started perceiving the evaluation of his work as a criticism of his majesty and the office he works for,” the head of the association, Ján Orlovský, told Sme.
When reports about the pressure surfaced in the media on October 14, Tomáš responded with a letter to journalists, in which he wrote that the recent days have been “the hardest in my professional career”. He admitted that he acted inappropriately and apologised to those whom he might have offended, but at the same time defended his style of communication.
“I guess nobody doubts that the control of media output is part of our work and in cases when we find a factual mistake or bias in some media, we must draw attention to that,” Tomáš wrote.
This year, the best spokesperson in the category of self-governments and the non-governmental sector was Ľubomír Andrassy, the former spokesperson of the mayor of Bratislava, while in the public administration category the prize went to Boris Chmel, who speaks for the Operational Centre of the Health Rescue Service. Zuzana Eliášová, the spokesperson of the ČSOB financial group, was awarded the prize in the private and commercial sector category.
The popular vote held online selected Iveta Tyšlerová, the spokesperson of the office of the Bratislava Self-Governing Region, as the spokesperson of the year.
Unlike in the previous six years, the absolute title of the Spokesperson of the Year, awarded for excellent performance in exceptional situations, was not handed out.
21. Oct 2013 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani