PEOPLE who cannot be intoxicated by PR-pieces masked as journalism and aim for news that shows the true reflection of political Dorian Grays in the mirror, usually make well-informed decisions in their support for or opposition to politicians, public figures or even products.
Independent media indeed empowers people to make such decisions, while media in the hands of those who see it only as an investment into their own influence do irreparable harm not only to the credibility of media, but also the democratic vigour of the society.
It is easiest to strip people of their power amid illusions. In the huge volume of available information, often short tit-bits designed to feed the click-count on the internet are substituted for news items that tell stories of corruption, political arrogance, amateurism, cronyism and corporate greed.
There are still those who live in the myth that governments will take care of their information needs and politicians would explain all they need to know, regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
There are few media which actually still look at journalism as a public service and are able to efficiently play this role in Slovakia. The Sme daily is one of such media.
The fact that Petit Press, the more than two decade old publishing house, has made it to the shopping list of the financial group Penta assisted by the SITA newswire, is a reason for concern not only for those who trust and subscribe to Sme (or just read it for free online) but also for those who passionately criticise it, who like speculating whether the reporters are truly free or someone is pulling their strings.
The shopping drive of financial groups, who have not given much reason for the public to believe that they buy newspapers and television stations to support independent public debate and making people well-informed, should be a general concern.
Those who indifferently shake their shoulders and attribute the shift to a market-driven economy or argue that it does not really matter because journalists always serve someone anyway, are terribly wrong, and one hopes it is not too late before they realise that the blogs and social sites they feverishly follow to collect crumbs of stories simply cannot substitute newspapers like Sme.
Some people immaturely commented on the social sites about Penta’s march to buy Petit Press by suggesting that Sme perhaps deserves it, failing to understand that the story of oligarchs, who emerged from a culture hardly compatible with social responsibility, buying media in the central European region is not going to be a story with a happy end.
Already on October 8 SITA used its own news portal to publish a statement by representatives of SITA and Penta, in which they claim that in case of the acquisition of the 50-percent package in Petit Press, they would guarantee free and independent work for reporters of the publishing house.
However, the shopping oligarchs fail to understand that simply by attaching their name to media they cause more damage than even the financial pressure that publishing houses face these days.
Anyone planning to buy media should take words such as integrity, social responsibility and transparency more seriously from the start. Journalists and some of their readers tend to have a pretty good memory.
13. Oct 2014 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová