Bratislava, Slovakia – Sme daily’s editor-in-chief Beata Balogová became the first Slovak to win the coveted European Press Prize for her piece marking the Velvet Revolution anniversary in which she describes how she protested as a student against the communist regime in 1989.
In “How We Stopped Being Comrades“, which was nominated for the Opinion Award, Beata Balogová writes that after 30 years, their revolution has not yet been completed.
“After thirty years we find ourselves at the border between freedom and ‘un-freedom,’ and those who are hijacking the future assure us that they are only protecting the identity of the nation against enemies, enemies they cooked up using the recipes of successful autocrats”, she writes. “But we are not powerless. Decent and honest people are not a threatened minority at the edge of society. Maybe they do not shout as loudly, but they do have a voice”.
“I am still dealing with attacks against journalists [here in Slovakia]”, she commented after being awarded the prize via video chat. “It’s not only in war-torn areas that journalists really face pressure and intimidation”.
“Even in Slovakia, we are facing criminal prosecution for some of the stories we publish, so I am humbled and I am honoured”, she added.
The latest World Press Freedom Index highlights the fact that despite the fact that Slovakia is the the highest ranked Visegrad country for the fifth year in a row, “the independence and professionalism of the public radio and TV broadcaster RTVS has been questioned”.
The former editor-in-chief of The Slovak Spectator, Beata Balogová had already been shortlisted for the 2019 European Press Prize with her piece “Let’s continue talking about murder, not Fico’s media tyranny“, which sums up the challenges that Ján Kuciak’s murder has brought onto Slovak society.
A graduate from the School of Journalism of Columbia University in New York, Beata Balogová now also serves as vice-chair of the executive board of the International Press Institute (IPI) advocating media freedom in the Central European region.