by Dana Pietsch
Following the change to the social system in 1989, the periodical press was the most dynamically developing area in Slovakia. From that year the number of titles published in Slovakia increased several fold. This marked increase was due mainly to the abolition of the authorisation procedure for periodical press publishing. A frequent change is nonetheless typical of the periodicals publishing sector: some titles cease to exist while others suddenly appear on the scene, titles get changed and so do their periodicity. The regional periodical press has seen the greatest growth; scores of advertising and erotic magazines have been created. Company/works newspapers have shown a reverse trend, with their number going down and their content increasingly and visibly moving into the sphere of company public relations. According to the register of periodical press, in 2008 3,025 periodical press titles were published in the Slovak Republic: 508 of these were newspaper titles and 2,517 were journals, of which 1,428 thematically catered for the general public and 1,598 were designed for specific groups of readers. Since 2010 there have been about 1,800 periodical press titles published yearly.
The first large group of periodicals and one with most intensive impact on readers are the newspapers, particularly the dailies. Of the total number of newspapers published, readers are served by 11 national dailies. The largest group of newspapers published is created by local newspapers published mostly by municipal offices. There are about 430 titles published every year. Particularly these local newspapers register the most rapid growth. Of the total number of journals and magazines (yearly about 1,100 – 1,200 titles) monthlies are published in the largest amount (approximately from 300 to 400 titles) and quarterlies/biannualies (approximately 500 titles). According to the reader target groups for which the journals cater, all typological groups of journals are published – journals for the general public as well as those for specific reader groups, including family, women’s, children’s and youths’ magazines, magazines specialising in sport or designed for motorists, magazines on tourism, religious, philosophical, professional and scientific journals, and also a large group of erotic magazines. Using the secondary classification the published journals are national, regional or local in scope. According to specific typological features, a sizeable portion of published titles can be classified as tabloid press.
The Slovak Syndicate of Journalists (SSN) is the most numerous journalistic organisation in the Slovak Republic, defined as a professional and trade union organisation of journalists, independent of political, economic, ideological and religious bodies and organisations. The syndicate was founded on 5 January 1990 and is a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It associates most of the journalists working in the press, radio, television, and press agencies in Slovakia. Its membership also includes freelance journalists and publicists and it currently has around 2,000 members. SSN strives to maintain the professional nature of the organisation and has branch offices in all regional towns of Slovakia. The mission and the aims of SSN are to protect freedom of expression, to advocate the professional interests of its members, to encourage the professional excellence of journalists, to protect the rights of its members, to conclude collective bargaining agreements, particularly with a view to the economic and social provision of its members, to provide legal protection in case of industrial disputes and to increase the social prestige and status of the journalist. The Syndicate has the right to give position statements on the preparation of media legislation. Members of this journalistic organisation are bound by the Journalistic Ethics Code. The Press Council of the Slovak Republic pursues its activity at the Syndicate, established with the aim to promote and protect the rights of the public to true, verified, and professionally-grounded information. It monitors compliance with the principles of ethics in the work of journalists in the periodicals published in Slovakia and considers complaints in relation to contraventions of these principles, and also supervises observance of the right to freedom of the press and free access to sources of information. The Press Council of the Slovak Republic is an independent body that decides and takes positions only on the basis of the knowledge and conscience of Council members, in consistency with the Code of Journalistic Ethics. It has seven members. Besides the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists there are a number of smaller organisations of journalists in terms of their respective memberships.
The News Agency of the Slovak Republic (TASR) and the SITA Slovak News Agency provide press services in the Slovak Republic.
The News Agency of the Slovak Republic (TASR) is in accordance with the Act No. 385/2008 Coll. on the News Agency of the Slovak Republic and on amendment to certain acts a public, national, independent, information institution, which provides the public with news service. In creating and distributing its news, the News Agency is free and independent. It must not act in favour of or against any political, economic, religious, ethnic or other interest group. The agency news of the News Agency respects the right to information in a democratic society regardless of age, sex, race, colour, faith and religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, membership of a national minority or ethnical group, state of health, property, gender or other position. The principal activity of the News Agency covers providing the news service to the public. The news service to the public means searching of up-to-date, timely, verified, ungarbled and unbiased information, which is processed in the form of text files, sound records, sound and video records, video records or multimedia records and is mediated in the domestic and foreign agency news, as well as storage of gathered information and making it accessible. The News Agency a.s. searches and processes information from the Slovak Republic on social, cultural, economic, political and sporting events at national level and at regional level as well as information on social, cultural, economic, political and sporting events from abroad. It issues the full wording of proclamations of the President of the Slovak Republic, Government of the Slovak Republic, Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic, Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic, Chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and other constitutional officials and their offices. If requested for, it also informs on standpoints and notices of central state administration bodies, budget organisations and allowance organisations and legal entities established by law. It gathers and makes accessible information on operation, legislative process, decisions and activities of bodies of the European Union and it also searches and processes information on social, cultural, economic, political and sporting events from the Slovak Republic for foreign countries in at least two foreign languages. It gathers and makes accessible a database of image records, audio records and video records in electronic form for study and scientific purposes. The bodies of the News Agency are Board of Directors and General Director. The Board of Directors has five members who are elected and removed by the National Council.
Established as a press agency in 1997 with a view to providing timely, balanced and politically impartial information from the economic and political sectors, the SITA Slovak News Agency a.s. is the largest private provider of comprehensive information services in Slovakia. From its inception, the agency was created with the idea of supplying information not only through other media but also without delay and filtering by decision making entities from either the political or business spheres. In 2001 SITA extended its classical on-line agency news services from domestic and foreign policy, society, economy and sport by offering additional specialised services for firms and institutions. These involve overviews sent by e-mail, sectoral monitoring, media analyses, political analyses, media monitoring, and other information products. Each day SITA produces more than 400 agency news reports, sectoral overviews in different languages, and examples of media monitoring and information. For companies requesting individual turn-key solutions it provides comprehensive coverage of their information needs taking account of their communication language.