Mass media and propaganda in 20th century Europe
New politics and a new media landscape
The 1990s in Slovenia
The 1990s in Slovenia
In the shadow of events in Europe and around the world, symbolised by the fall of the Berlin wall, civil society was on the rise in Slovenia in the 1980s. It became clear that the multi-ethnic Yugoslav state community was coming to an end. In the spring of 1987, there was a call for an abandonment of the communist system, and the introduction of a politically pluralist, democratic system and independent Slovene state was forming vividly.
A group of intellectuals with anti-communist leanings appeared, centring themselves around the Nova revija magazine and contributing to its articles for a new Slovene national programme. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Nova revija, this short video clip includes a statement from the first editor-in-chief, philosopher Dr Tine Hribar, about the concept of the magazine and its editing policy.
In the spring of 1989, Slovenia's communist leadership recognised this new trend in the mood of the people and began siding with it. In the fall of 1989, the communist regime in Slovenia, against the will of Belgrade, allowed a free, multiparty life to take root. The new democratic political parties, which had started to emerge at the beginning of 1989, united into the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS) and won the first Slovenian Parliamentary Elections in 1990.
These elections were the turning point, as the elected Assembly during the following months assured the adoption of legislation, and a new constitution, which was the basis for the independence of Slovenia.
A path towards independence was a new era for Slovenian journalists, challenging them in their autonomy and objectivity. The role of television or any other mass communication media was very important for most voters in determining their choice at the ballot box during elections. Proper mass media conduct towards all political parties and candidates was therefore crucial to achieving democratic elections.
In the 1990 election, the Slovenian voters elected their representatives for several authority bodies, from municipalities to the Republic Assembly, along with the President and the members of the Presidency.
In the following clip, you can watch and listen to a studio conversation between journalists Olga Rems, Branko Maksimovič, and Miran Predan about some of the challenges the journalists faced prior to these first multiparty elections. They talk about the predicted plan for monitoring pre-election activities on RTV Slovenia as well as basic principles and rules on election propaganda in the media.
Two main processes overlap in the Slovenian media sphere in the 1990s. On the one hand, the formation of a media market after the dissolution of Yugoslavian socialism and, on the other hand, the formation of practices indicating a newly constituted, re-arranged, and re-regulated media field of a new independent state - Slovenia.
In the mid-90s, there was already a busy media market. Political and economic actors continuously sought an opportunity to exert their influence on management or supervisory bodies of different media outlets that reached the highest number of audiences. And to do so, they relied on the analytics made by market and media research institutes. Here is a clip from 1995 discussing the scope of the media market and media consumption in Slovenia with the founder and director of the Institute for Market and Media Research, Ms. Janja Božič Marolt.
Television, radio, magazines and newspapers in Slovenia are operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription and other sales-related revenues. In this media scope, independent public media such as RTV Slovenia have an even more important role than ever to prevent us from drowning in fake, for-profit news. We need journalism to reveal the mistakes of those in power, and to check information.
Open censorship is absent in Slovenia, yet political pressures on journalists have been reported when covering elections or politically sensitive issues, often leading to self-censorship cases. The manipulation of the media to play favourites with propaganda outlets presents an unfair advantage and can cause an alarming effect on the freedom of speech, the development of independent media outlets, and the freedom of the press. Because of the connections between the political elites, tycoons, and state-owned industries, the independence of journalists seems more of a saying than reality.
So, now you've seen how dictators and regimes throughout the 20th century used mass media to influence and control the public, perhaps you might look at what you read on social media and elsewhere a little differently...