Being a journalist in Slovakia in 2018

The murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, prompted journalists to try and explain to the public what their job really means.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

You sit at your desk. The white screen of your laptop stares back at you, ready to absorb that one perfectly- crafted sentence that will make everyone want to read your story down to the very last word. There is a stain on the desk, a reminder that you have already had your many coffees of the day. It’s getting dark outside; you glance at the corner of your screen and the thought that your deadline is just an hour away flashes through your mind as you begin to write...

The popular idea of what a journalist does is full of stereotypical images like these. Some, including many journalism students, have nostalgic feelings for old-fashioned newsrooms full of cigarette smoke and the clatter of typewriters. Others, like the regular consumers of prime-time TV news shows and press conferences streamed live on Facebook, see the hectic life of reporters running around from one ministry to another, brushing shoulders with political celebrities. Yet more – and this country’s former prime minister is one of them – look down on the “slimy snakes” and “anti-Slovak prostitutes” that they believe journalists to be.

But what does it really mean to be a journalist in Slovakia in 2018, the year in which a journalist was killed here for doing his job?

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