Take a STAnd

The Government has stopped the financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), jeopardising the survival of the professional and autonomous agency and the jobs of around 100 employees. We are launching this crowdfunding campaign to reach out to everyone who believes that people deserve a high-quality media service.

Why the donation drive?

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Fundraising has ended. Funds raised during the campaign:

274.743,15 €
The amount also includes the amount of funds raised via SMS donations, which is of an informative nature.


Why the donation drive?

1
For 30 years the Slovenian Press Agency has been providing comprehensive, accurate and unbiased information about events in Slovenia and abroad to domestic and foreign public.
2
The incumbent Government has suspended the financing of this public service, jeopardising the survival of the professional and autonomous agency and the jobs of around 100 employees.
3
This is why we are launching this crowdfunding campaign to reach out to everyone who believes that people deserve a high-quality media service.

Raise your voice in support

Do you disagree with the actions of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia? Do you agree? Do you find the right to information important for society? Do you want to publicly raise your voice in support of one or the other? You can do it here and now. You have the right.s

A good old Slovenian STAndoff.

- jb
Join the movement, donate and step into the fray. Visit www.zaobstanek.si/en.

Get up, STAnd up, don't give up the fight!

- bm
Join the movement, donate and step into the fray. Visit www.zaobstanek.si/en.

Donate and STAnd up for professional journalism.

- ka
Join the movement, donate and step into the fray. Visit www.zaobstanek.si/en.

T-SHIRTS

Become friends of the STA in a trendy and comfortable #zaobSTAnek T-shirt. Wear it either outside or at home. Wear it to work, to go jogging, boating, or playing tennis. Wear it to take a STAnd.
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FAQs

Are you wondering where the raised funds will go? How will transparency be ensured? How did the STA find itself in this situation? What actually is the STA? You will find answers to these and other relevant questions here.
What happened in the Year of "War with the Media" - the STA case

Below is a review of the main moves the current government has made in the last year in relation to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). The headline of the chronology is a paraphrase of the title of a piece by Prime Minister Janez Janša War with the Media, which was published on the government website on 11 May 2020.

  1. March 2020

"Fan of fake news"
Prime Minister Janez Janša says in a tweet that the STA is a “fan of fake news” as he comments on an STA news item about international organisations being concerned in the face of attacks on journalist Blaž Zgaga.

  1. July 2020

Proposed changes to the STA act
The Culture Ministry publishes draft changes to the STA act under which the STA supervisory board would no longer be appointed by the National Assembly but directly by the government and which scrap the provision under which the STA must not become dependent - de facto, or legally - on any ideological, political or economic grouping. The motion has not been filed into parliament yet.

  1. October 2020

"National disgrace"
Prime Minister Janez Janša calls the STA a national disgrace in a tweet after the STA publishes an interview with rapper Zlatko on the day of the meeting between Janša and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban.

  1. October 2020

Series of letters from Government Communication Office
The director of the Government Communication Office (UKOM), Uroš Urbanija, starts sending a number of requests for information to the STA, including such that he is not entitled to, concerning for example the agency's market activities, the number and length of interviews, and questions on why the STA has not published particular pieces of information.

  1. November 2020

First suspension of public service financing
UKOM suspends monthly payment of the public service conducted by the STA. The financing is suspended for three months and the agency receives payment for the period in January 2021 based on a special article in the seventh economic stimulus act and after a response from the European Commission.

  1. December 2020

Noncompliance with decisions of the Culture Committee
The parliamentary Culture Committee calls on the government to restore the financing of the STA within three days but this decision is not implemented.

  1. December 2020

Criminal complaint filed
UKOM director Uroš Urbanija announces that UKOM has filed criminal complaints against STA director Bojan Veselinovič, former UKOM director Kristina Plavšak Krajnc and four STA supervisors because they signed the contract on the financing of the STA even though UKOM is not an authorised representative of the STA’s founder. The district state prosecution has rejected the charges.

  1. February 2021

Proposal for STA transfer onto Demographic Fund
The parliamentary Finance Committee endorses an amendment to the Demographic Fund bill under which the fund would become the founder and the only shareholder of the STA.

  1. February 2021

Second suspension of public service financing
UKOM notifies the STA it has rejected the agency's request for payment of public service in January. This marks the start of the second suspension of financing of the public service that the STA has been performing in line with the law. The suspension continues.

  1. March 2021

No commercial contract with the government administration
Talks between UKOM and the STA on signing the annual commercial contract allowing the government administration to access a package of STA services fail. For the first time in 29 years, the STA is forced to restrict access to its news for the government administration. A few ministries subsequently close individual contracts with the agency on access to STA services.

  1. March 2021

Janša calls on STA director to step down
Prime Minister Janez Janša calls on STA director Bojan Veselinovič to step down in a tweet.

  1. March 2021

Government calls on STA supervisory board to dismiss director
The government adopts a decree proposing to the STA supervisory board to dismiss Bojan Veselinovič as director of the STA.

  1. March 2021

Government gives instructions to Interior Ministry regarding the STA
The government adopts a decree urging the Interior Ministry to examine whether alleged violations at the STA contain elements of crime and to act in line with the law. The ministry is also to examine whether the members of the STA supervisory board have violated the companies act. It also proposed oversight by the labour inspectorate.

  1. March 2021

Inspection from labour inspectorate
The labour inspectorate conducts an oversight at the STA a week after the government decree proposing the labour inspectorate to examine the agency and review its operations in line with its powers. The procedure has not been concluded yet.

  1. April 2021

Deputy prime minister about the need for resignation of STA director
Deputy Prime Minister and New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin publishes a text on the website of the party, saying among other things that STA director Bojan Veselinovič should offer his resignation.

  1. April 2021

Police knock on the door of STA chief supervisor
Almost a month after the government decree proposing the Interior Ministry to examine the STA, police visit the head of the supervisory board, Mladen Terčelj.

  1. April 2021

STA documentation rejected by Government
The STA management sent documentation requested by the Government Communication Office, which does not have authority to request it, to Prime Minister Janez Janša, who represents the STA's founder. The Prime Minister's Office returned the documents a day later, on 23 April, but the STA has not accepted the package. The STA thus remains without financing.

  1. 29 April 2021

Ignoring European Commission Decision
The European Commission announced its decision that the state can compensate from public funds the Slovenian Press Agency for its public service under EU state aid rules. The decision also encompasses the around EUR 2 million that had been earmarked for the STA for 2021. Nevertheless, the government has failed to release the funds despite it being set down in the seventh coronavirus legislative package.

  1. 3 May 2021

Mocking the STA crowdfunding campaign
The Slovenian Association of Journalists and several other organisations launched a crowdfunding campaign for the STA. Prime Minister Janez Janša called the campaign tragicomic and absurd and Interior Minister Aleš Hojs posted a tweet showing off a donation of EUR 0.

  1. 6 May 2021

Prime minister implies STA director being involved in murder
Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted that STA director Bojan Veselinovič had been an accomplice to the murder of former STA editor-in-chief Brout Meško, who died of cancer after being dismissed from his job by Veselinovič. Meško’s terminal illness had not been diagnosed until a month after he was fired. The STA director announced he would press criminal charges as a private plaintiff and a civil defamation suit against the prime minister.

What actually is the STA?

The Slovenian Press Agency is a newswire that provides up-to-date information about events in Slovenia and abroad. Its operations are governed by a special law. 

It is incorporated as a limited liability company owned by the Republic of Slovenia. The STA was incorporated as part of Slovenia’s independence efforts in 1991. At this time the STA has around 100 employees, of which most are editorial staff - journalists, correspondents, photojournalists, videographers and editors.

Every day of the year they produce news in Slovenian and English, photos, audio content, live broadcasts, summaries and calendars of events, and other products.

The STA provides these products to a majority of Slovenian media outlets -  newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations and online portals - and to numerous public administration bodies, NGOs and companies. All ledes - the first paragraph of a news item that contains the most important info - are part of the STA’s public service and as such freely available to the general public.

The STA’s English Service is of special importance, providing information on key events related to Slovenia to non-Slovenian speaking audiences at home and abroad. This news wire is disseminated to numerous partner news agencies as well as individual foreign media outlets, diplomatic missions and other subscribers.

What does the STA report on?

The agency has multiple specialised editorial departments - home policy, foreign policy, business & economy, sports, arts & culture, and the English Service - a department for multimedia and digital strategy, and correspondents around Slovenia as well as in Brussels, New York and Zagreb.

The editorial staff provide wall-to-wall coverage of events in Slovenia and international events, from early in the morning until late at night, using a combination of beat reporting, primary sources of information, and reporting by domestic and foreign media.

How is the STA financed?

The STA generates around EUR 4 million in annual revenue. Roughly half the total revenue comes from commercial services and approximately an equal amount is provided by the state in the form of public service financing - funding that the STA is entitled to under the Slovenian Press Agency Act.

Having developed new services and adopted an active marketing approach, the STA has seen the share of commercial revenue grow steadily.

Why then the crowdfunding campaign?

Because the Government has suspended public service financing, leaving the STA to perform its obligation without payment. As the public service fee covers around half of the STA’s revenue, the agency is in danger of becoming insolvent within weeks. Letting more than half of its people go is not an option because this would make it impossible to perform the statutory public service as required by law. Commercial activities would have to be scaled back as well.

Why has the Government stopped funding the STA?

It would be best to address this question to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia.

The Government Communication Office has requested certain documentation from the agency last year, and in doing so overstepped its authority according to several legal opinions. Having solicited legal experts, the agency has denied the request. After months of suspended financing and public statements by government representatives calling on the STA to release the documents, the agency has forwarded the documents to the Government as the agency’s sole shareholder, specifically to the office of the prime minister. The financing has not been resumed yet.

What has the STA done to secure public financing?

The STA adopted the business plan for 2021, which is a legal prerequisite for public service financing, and forwarded it to the Government. It called on the Government in December to draw up a financing contract for 2021, to no effect. The contract is in fact not a requirement for financing. The STA has also filed an enforcement claim, but the proceedings are still ongoing. Because Government officials and the Government Communication Office made the financing conditional on the STA providing certain documents, the STA has sent them to the Government, having solicited several legal opinions stating that the Government itself, not the Government Communication Office was entitled to such documents. The Government as the sole shareholder of the STA has not authorised the Government Communications Office to receive the documents and has not requested the documents in a formal way as required by corporate law.

What happens with the raised funds?

The funds will be used for the agency’s day-to-day operations and to finance the provision of public service - in other words, to finance the salaries of employees, who are at risk of losing pay in two months.

What if the government resumes financing? Will the raised funds be redundant?

Absolutely not. In the event that the Government meets its legal obligation and pays the STA for its public service, the agency will use the raised funds to further develop its operations and undertake projects that will benefit the general public and democracy. At the same time, the raised funds will provide stability for the agency should the Government again decide to suspend financing. The Government had already suspended financing for three months last year, leaving the agency in a precarious position.

Is this really a personal dispute between the directors of the STA and the Government Communication Office ?

No. The government has not been fulfilling its obligations under the Slovenian Press Agency Act and the seventh anti-corona legislative package which determines that it is required to finance the public service based solely on the agency’s business plan for 2021. This means the law stipulates that financing must be secured from the budget even if there is no public service agreement signed. The European Commission has found no problem with this provision.

The STA has been performing public service in line with the law but has received no payment for it despite the above-mentioned provisions of the law.

What constitutes the public service performed by the STA?

As part of its public service obligation, the STA provides the public with the opening paragraphs of its daily newswire free of charge. Additionally, the most important news items of the day are adapted into a more concise form and made available free of charge to all visitors of the STA site.

The STA has also created several topic-specific portals where the general public can freely access all content. These include the business portal STAkrog, science portal STAznanost, culture portal STAmisli, and fact-checking portal Neja.

What does the general public get from the STA?

Slovenians have direct and indirect benefits from the STA.

They can follow the STA’s newswire on their own via the agency’s website, mobile application or social media to get an overview of the key events in Slovenia and abroad.

And they indirectly benefit from the fact that the STA “services” other media outlets, which then build out their stories on the fast and accurate information the STA provides.

Who supervises the STA?

The STA operates in accordance with the provisions of the Slovenian Press Agency Act, which determines that the agency has a five-member supervisory board. Four supervisors, respectively in charge of finance, legal issues, media and technology, are appointed by the National Assembly. The fifth supervisor is appointed by the employees.

The STA’s books are audited by an outside auditor every year. An internal audit is performed annually as well.

The STA management compiles an annual business report in accordance with corporate law, which is then first reviewed by the supervisory board and then discussed by the National Assembly.

Do all countries have press agencies?

Basically every country has one or more press agencies, but ownership arrangements differ. In some countries press agencies are state owned, in some they are owned by media outlets, and some agencies are privately held. A number of press agencies operate as national press agencies, while some are global, such as Reuters, AP, dpa, Tass, Xinhua and AFP. The French AFP also receives state financing for its public service.

What product does the STA provide?

The STA’s Slovenian-language news wire, which covers domestic and international events, is the core product, flanked by the English-language wire, which focuses on major events in Slovenia. The agency also provides a picture service and a radio-news service which includes audio clips.

More recent products include a media-centric online calendar of events, a livestream service, distribution of original press releases, and organisation of online and offline events independently or as a media partner.

For several years the agency has been investing heavily in technological development, resulting in products such as an in-house publishing system, robots for the automatic writing of simple news items, and NewsMapper, an advanced analytical tool which leverages artificial intelligence technologies.

Why is the crowdfunding campaign organised by the Slovene Association of Journalists?

The Slovene Association of Journalists (DNS) has responded to numerous calls and questions made by journalists, media outlets and other individuals concerned about the survival of the Agency. The Association understands the importance and the mission of the STA for the Slovenian media landscape. By launching the crowdfunding campaign in cooperation with numerous media outlets and other friends of the STA, the DNS aims to provide support to the Slovenian Press Agency, which found itself in a dire situation because the Government fails to respect the law. At the same time, the Association wants to raise awareness about the importance and mission of the STA among the general public.

Did the European Commission not secure the funds for the STA?

The European Commission has only ruled upon notification from the Slovenian Government that the payment to the STA in compensation for its public service is compliant with the EU state aid rules. This ruling only means that the Government can no longer argue it is waiting for the European Commission’s decision before it can resume financing the STA. The payment of the compensation remains the Government’s obligation, but judging from the latest press release from the Government Communication Office, the STA cannot expect to be compensated at the moment. Not the least because the Government Communication Office has rejected the request for the payment of public service performed in March.

STA in numbers


Production in 2020:

  • The STA produced more than 115,000 news items and other texts in Slovenian in 2020.
  • The STA produced more than 19,000 news items and other texts about the covid-19 epidemics in 2020.
  • The STA conducted more than 300 interviews with people from Slovenia and abroad in 2020.
  • The STA produced nearly 13,000 news items and other texts in English in 2020.
  • The STA created more than 9100 audio clips with statements about current events in 2020.
  • The STA published 55,000 photos in its own and partner production in its picture service in 2020.
  • The STA included more than 16,000 events from Slovenia and abroad in its calendar of events. 
  • The STA provided more than 500 live broadcasts from events around Slovenia in 2020.
  • STA news items were reused around 150,000 times on Slovenian news portals.


STA archives:

  • The STA has so far produced more than 2.5 million Slovenian-language news items and other texts.
  • The STA has created around 270,000 English-language news items and other texts.
  • The STA has published around 1 million photos about events in Slovenia and abroad in its photo service.
  • The STA has produced more than 130,000 audio clips with statements about current events.
  • The STA has produced more than 15,000 video clips about events and places in Slovenia.
  • The STA has tweeted more than 236,000 times on its Twitter accounts. 


General information:

  • The STA marks its 30th anniversary in 2021 (it was incorporated in June 1991).
  • The STA is wholly state-owned.
  • Around 100 people work at the agency, most of them are journalists and editors.
  • The STA has correspondents around Slovenia and in Brussels, New York and Zagreb.
  • More than 500 people have worked at the STA during its history.
  • More than 60 journalism students and over a dozen students of translation have interned at the STA in the past 10 years.