It only took a few days for the Siol web portal to become the bulletin of the ruling coalition with the new, far-left editor-in-chief. Former editor Peter Jančič made the web portal popular among politically centric readers, too, as he always kept journalistic integrity in mind and made sure that both sides of every story were presented. Unlike the new editor, activist Šuštaršič, who – in his very first column – feeds the lie of the journalist Saša Kranjec and agitates for the new Radio-Television Slovenia Act, which will cement the public institution on the left side of the political spectrum.
The Slovenian Press Agency (STA) reports that journalist and editor Mihael Šuštaršič has been appointed to the position of editor-in-chief of the Siol.net web portal. Before taking up the post, he had already presented his vision of development and management of the media outlet to the editorial board, and judging by the last few days, his vision is quite clear – he wants to turn Siol from a quality, objective media outlet into a left-wing agitational media outlet.
As expected, the Golob government has subjugated one of the last havens of free journalism that were left in the country – the Siol.net web portal. The new editor-in-chief of the web portal became the left-wing extremist Mihael Šuštaršič, and his actions became visible after just a few days, as the news on Siol went from being centrist to left-leaning practically overnight. In the latest news reports, the change was so obvious that it left many speechless, and an avalanche of criticism aimed at the new face of Siol erupted on Twitter.
A Twitter user under the nickname “ItakDa” wrote that “Golob’s team has taken over Siol and the newly published articles became brutally red and supportive of the government practically overnight.” Another user pointed out that with the appointment of Šuštaršič, Siol had instantly lost one reader – himself – and added that many more are to follow. “Goodbye, web portal Communist,” he added.
Among the people who expressed their opinions about the change on Twitter was also the analyst Mitja Iršič, who wrote: “You will soon see why Siol under Peter Jančič was popular even among the centrist voters, and why, just like a copy of the left-wing media outlets Mladina-Cenzurirano-Reporter, it will soon crash into the abyss. And what the private shareholders of the Telekom Slovenije company think about this remains to be seen.”
Šuštaršič did emphasise that respect for journalistic standards and the professionalism of journalism is his main guiding principle when taking up his new position, adding that he will make sure to provide comprehensive and objective information on developments in Slovenia, Europe and the rest of the world, as this is his responsibility towards Slovenian democracy. And yet, judging by his columns, this is not actually the case. Suddenly, the opinion of Nika Kovač, who until yesterday did not even know what politics was, is very important, which is why her layman’s opinion of people who have been politically active since before she was born graces the front page of the Siol web portal. Seriously, Siol?
A fan of the Institute of the 8th of March and the Necenzurirano web portal
But how could we even expect objectivity from Šušteršič, who, judging by his Facebook posts, is a visible supporter of not only Nika Kovač from the Institute of the 8th of March (Inštitut 8. marec) and their “water act,” but also of the infamous “Necenzurirano.si” web portal (“Uncensored”), which is practically a synonym for Golob’s web portal – and not to mention Šušteršič’s cover stories from the left-wing magazine Mladina. A left-wing extremist put in the role of editor of the hitherto centrist Siol web portal – well, what else could we expect?
Šušteršič was not only the main revolutionary at the Slovenian Press Agency and a supporter of the leftists, but he has also been involved with some questionable people himself. Photos have circulated online of him cheering for his colleague Jernej Šmajdek on the show Joker. It should be pointed out that Jernej Šmajdek is only one of the many people against whom the Government Communications Office has in the past filed a denunciation on suspicion of committing an offence of abuse of official position or official rights under Article 257 of the Criminal Code, which is prosecuted ex officio. After that, Šmajdek found his place on the web portal Finance.
In addition to Šmajdek, proceedings were initiated against the previous Director of the Government Communications Office, Kristina Plavšak Krajnc, MSc, too, and against the former Director of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA d.o.o. Ljubljana), Bojan Veselinovič, on suspicion of committing a criminal offence of damage to public funds under Article 257a of the Criminal Code, as well as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the STA d.o.o. Ljubljana company, Mladen Terčelj, the Deputy Chairman, Aleksander Igličar, and a member of the Supervisory Board, Jure Brankovič.
For Slovenia, as a country firmly in the hands of the members of the former Communist Party, it is not a big surprise for the editorial policy to change overnight. Let’s just think back to the Mag magazine and the tragic story of the Reporter magazine, which was taken over by the tycoon Odlazek. Slovenian journalism has always been working-class and has always been able to sell itself for a handful of tolars or, later, euros. Of course, it will also help that at Siol, most of the editorial staff is very left-leaning in their worldview and that the new editor will not have to try and make reports a bit more centrist. That way, the new far-left editor can work on inertia and just let the journalists be what they are – activists who want to report positively on the left-wing government and negatively on the right-wing opposition.