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January 26, 2020
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Commentary: Which Czech media outlets can we take seriously?

2.1.2020 9:36
František Kostlán. (Photo: Romea.cz Archive)
František Kostlán. (Photo: Romea.cz Archive)

A lot is being said and written these days about disinformation and the media outlets that carry it, as well as the idea that we should choose serious media outlets as our main sources of valid information. Which ones are the serious ones, though?

While each of us may consider different outlets to be serious, the answer seems clear to me. I read some media regularly or very often because I believe they are credible - their reporting is objective and their commentaries adhere to democratic values, which is especially important these days.

Those outlets are: Aktuálně.cz, DeníkN.cz, DennikN.sk in Slovakia, Hlídacípes.org, Investigace.cz, Neovlivní.cz, revuebabylon.cz, Romea.cz and some other smaller news servers. The left-wing media outlets A2larm.cz and Denikreferendum.cz (DR) are also high-quality - DR above all makes room for different opinions.

While A2larm.cz and DR are biased ideologically, their bias is presented in an open way, so readers know what they are in for. I listen to Czech Radio's "Plus" station daily, where most of the programs are produced fairly, and I also listen quite frequently to the "Vltava" station, which is upholding its own standard of quality.

I watch the features and the news programs on public broadcaster Czech Television, the best of which are "168 hours" (168 hodin) and "Reporters" (Reportéři), which are at least as good as other European programs of this kind. Czech Television's news broadcasts (Události) or their news and commentary programs (Události a komentáře) are weaker from the perspective of content and production, but they remain the best television news reporting in the country.

TV Nova cannot be believed and TV Prima is even less credible - its features and news programs are among the worst available here. I also buy the magazine RESPEKT, which is about the same as Czech Television's news reporting.

RESPEKT remains our best magazine for an overview and I have already lost the habit of paying money for any others. Unfortunately, however, its level has been deteriorating for the past few years.

Of course, it's true that from time to time there are excellent pieces in RESPEKT, for example, by Ondřej Kundra or Jaroslav Spurný. Erik Tabery's essays are also very well done.

Sometimes I also take a look at SeznamZprávy and Seznam TV, both of which are put out by the same company. Because of their connection under a single heading, quality is constantly at odds with sensationalism there, and it's not certain which will ultimately win.

The same goes for intelligence vs. stupidity at Seznam (e.g., Xaver Veselý is absolutely clearly a "journalist" spreading disinformation there). This is a prime example of otherwise good journalists (and those at SeznamZprávy.cz are professionals) being manipulated into the style of the tabloid butchers.

Sometimes I look at other media outlets for the sake of interest which are, of course, obviously affected by the blindness of ideology or party affiliation, such as the political tabloid Echo24.cz, for example, which boasts the ideological, pure-blooded drivel of Daniel Kaiser, Lenka Zlámalová, and many others. The same goes for Info.cz, which, among other matters, feeds its readers pro-Chinese propaganda.

I never stay long at either Echo or Info, basically I just verify whether their very low level of journalism is persisting. I do the same with the media outlets owned by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (iDNES.cz, Lidovky.cz).

In addition to journalism, iDNES.cz and Lidovky.cz publish communist-style agitprop. I am ashamed of the editorial boards of both those newspapers.

The same applies, of course, to the news server Forum24.cz, which may have a different content from the disinformation platform Parlamentní listy, but uses a similar style as they do. Forum's continuous, convulsive, pig-headed campaign against Babiš actually scores him political points, because intelligent readers know there is more than one devil running around in the world.

If you ever find similarly harsh criticism of any other political party on Forum24.cz, then you should have a drink to celebrate. As for news server Novinky.cz, I visit it very seldom - I stopped reading it after its anti-Romani campaign a while back, which was conducted in a rather repulsive manner.

I am not mentioning media outlets here that are purely publishing disinformation and propaganda - they are frequently written about and anybody can find articles on that subject in a matter of moments online. It is still the case that we have a range of media options in the Czech Republic - new dailies are even popping up on the Internet from time to time here.

Despite the range, however, the number of serious media outlets worth following regularly is declining. We'll return to the reasons for this next time.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Dezinformace, Média, Nabídka, Osobnosti



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