• October 8, 2021
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Radzevičius: We want journalists in Lithuania not to be afraid to talk about problems

“The protagonists of journalistic materials, the so-called “bad guys”, who are criticized, do not have many opportunities to file lawsuits against reporters today. In the United States and Europe, this phenomenon is called a strategic lawsuit. Its goal is to ruin a journalist’s career. So, we hope that in the nearest future, there will be legal amendments which will allow the courts to assess if a lawsuit is not a way to fight the media and if required, to reject such a request” – said Dainius Radzevičius, the chairman of The Lithuanian Union of Journalists, who was a guest of “Salon Polityczny”.

“We certainly do not plan on defending lies, we fight for there to be none. We want, however, for journalists not to feel unjustly punished. We know that lawsuits cost a lot and take a considerable amount of time. If you are innocent, there is a possibility that you will have many expenses. One of the proposals, which will be published in November, concerns legal aid for people who speak about problems publicly and criticize influential figures. There can arise a possibility of compensation of part of the expenses spent on the legal procedures” – ensures Radzevičius.

According to the CEO of the union, small editorial offices often find starting a journalistic investigation to be very expensive. Although, criticism, which will be published, can be even more expensive. “The experience of our European colleagues shows that in the UE journalists often suffer physically as well. This causes small media not to take on topics for which a court of law and damage to reputation await.” – explains the guest of the broadcast.

“Some people honestly expect journalists to take on the most difficult topics. However, it is not so easy. Wealthy influential people have a team of legal consultants to get in the way of journalists. Obviously, the public eye would like for journalists to become more brave. They need help, though. It is difficult for editors due to their dependency on advertising orders. One thing that’s missing is support from the readers. The case right now is that editors try their best to meet the needs of people who purchase advertisements. Unfortunately, every year more and more money is being spent on it. The sums account for tens of millions of euros. The money spent on advertisements in social media makes editorials poor” – he continues.

As Radzevičius states, most journalists can choose who they want to serve. “Media freedom in Lithuania exists, for sure. The difficult choice depends on the editors and the people that they belong to. If the audience is the most important, then the published information makes you important too. However, there is a temptation to serve advertisers or authority” – the CEO adds.

Radzevičius also thinks that the government spends a lot of money on the advertisements. “In most cases there are commercials. However, sometimes there appears a clear propaganda alongside a normal advertisement. In the case of the plea for vaccinations, we saw more often than not that the spots were more propaganda rather than just a plea” – the guest of “Salon Polityczny” emphasizes.

„Salon Polityczny” –  a current affairs program broadcasted on Radio Znad Willi – 103.8 FM from Monday to Friday at 8.15 a.m. Editor Renata Widtmann discusses the political, economic and social life in Lithuania, Poland and the world with the guests invited to the studio.

Translated by Karolina Stromska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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