The protest in support of the Vecera collective also took place in front of the entrance to RTV Slovenija.
“Independent journalism is the foundation of any democratic society. The decision to move the editorial office of Večera to a building owned by the mayor, thereby placing the editorial office under the auspices of the mayor’s ownership, is perverted, to say the least. The media have a duty to look after the mayor,” they wrote in the Aktiv news program of TV Slovenija and emphasized that it is unacceptable that due to such real estate operations of the owners, the editorial staff is subjected to political and economic pressure.
As they also pointed out, Večer is a newspaper of central importance for the local community, Štajerska, Pomurje, Carinthia and the whole of Slovenia.
“Being in the rented premises of the one you report on, because you owe it to your subscribers and readers and, last but not least, to all voters, is a pressure – on journalists, on their autonomy, on journalism. In areas where local media are under such pressure, the foundations of democracy are crumbling, corruption, social apathy and numbness are spreading,” they warned in a press release, adding that what Večer is experiencing is another in a series of proofs of how important it is for the media to have responsible owners and proof of the damage caused to media organizations by non-strategic owners who do not understand their role media.
The move would be “an irreparable blow to editorial independence and credibility”
The employees of Vecer last week warned the public that the proposed move of Vecer from the current building, which was sold by the two previous owners some time ago, to premises owned by the mayor, “absolutely unacceptable“, as it would mean “an irreparable blow to editorial independence and credibility“.
Employee representative Rok Kaiser said that the negative consequences of the proposed move for their media company will be significantly greater than the expected savings and cost reductions.
In their opinion, moving to the premises of Galerija Gosposka is inadmissible: firstly, because the building in which the Večer editorial office works is inseparably connected with the Maribor and Slovenian media landscape, and secondly, because the premises to which they intend to move are owned by the current the mayor of Maribor Saša Arsenovića.
The Za Večer petition has also been signed online for several days now. Against relocation, for the autonomy of journalism, with which they also warn that relocation to the premises of the current holder of political power is unacceptable.
“Večer is a national, regional and local media and has Maribor at its core. Highly professional and independent journalists who cover topics in the city would be exposed to doubts about their credibility by moving, which is unacceptable,” they wrote in the petition, which has already been signed by more than 600 people.
Mayor Arsenovič: The move is not controversial
Mayor of Maribor Saša Arsenović said at the press conference that signing petitions and protest rallies should be welcomed in a democratic society, as everyone has the right to their opinion.
The fact is, according to him, that the Večer newspaper influenced the development of Maribor, but it has not been the owner of the current building for several years and its status has not changed in any way.
“Now they were tenants of person X, and in the future they will be tenants of person Y. Otherwise it goes true for a somewhat strange situation, which we have never been in before, but also our mandate is a bit different, because a politician is someone who is not a career politician from his student days, but someone who has already created something in his life,” said Arsenovič, emphasizingYes it goes at the Gosposka Gallery for the object which they are restored it already in 2004 and has been intended for broadcast for business purposes ever since. According to him, the rule of supply applies and demand, and if they were on the side of the future the tenant’s expressed interest and desire for optimization expenses also to facilitate the maintenance of Vecera’s business, he does not see anything wrong in this.
“Even so far, I have not entered or acted in any other way in any other premises of my tenants, of which there have probably been several dozen in 20 years, including internationally recognized companies. I believe that journalists will continue to write autonomously and independently, but capital and management must be separated from employment,” said Arsenovič, who believes that every journalist knows best for himself whether he is autonomous and independent, and that space has nothing to do with what he writes and how he writes.
He called on the people of Maribor to become subscribers in these difficult times for all media, if they are not already, and he is sure that they will decide on this based on the content written by journalists, and by no means on the basis of where journalists are sitting.
“They are already sitting in a house that is not theirs, so this petition and rally have been recognized for at least three or four years,” he added.
When asked if he actually intends to enter the ownership of Večer, he said that it is something similar to when it was rumored that he would buy a restaurant on the right bank of the Drava near the new Rafting bridge, while the city was discussing it, Austrian capital bought the house. He assured that he has no intention of becoming the owner of Večer and admitted that it was one of the business opportunities ten years ago, when he and his brother sold the S. Oliver company, but due to their lack of knowledge of the media business, they preferred not to take on the project.