A Leader berates journalists on Twitter : Sort of sounds familiar : As Slovenia Prime Minister Janez Jansa has become a headache for journalists, journalism and the world.

Radio Student probably hurt its chances of getting government money by issuing a tweet last year urging ''death to Jans-ism,'' a play on a wartime cry Communist partisans fighting the Nazis in Yugoslavia.

''If they really want to promote pluralism in the media space, there is no better place to do this than Student Radio,'' said Vid Bester, the editor of Radio Student's cultural programming. 

When the Council of Europe released a report complaining about the ''toxic and hostile environment'' for Slovene journalists and a striking deterioration in media freedom,'' Mr. Jansa denounced its author, Europe's human rights commissioner, as ''part of #fakenews network. Well paid by our money.''

An early adopter of Twitter - Mr. Jansa started using it a political cudgel years before Donald J Trump did the prime minister is known to his critics as Marshal Twito, a reference to Marshal Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia's long time dictator.

With Mr. Trump now banned from Twitter, Mr. Jansa has taken his place, albeit with many fewer followers, in setting the benchmark for intemperate social media messaging by a national leader.

Even political allies have been aghast at his insults, threats and wild statements, like his tweet after the U.S. presidential election saying, '' it's pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump.''

'' That was obviously not a good idea,'' said Lojze Peterle, a former Slovene prime minister whose center-right party is in Mr. Jansa's coalition government.

Mr. Jansa tweeted that the Slovenian New Agency, known as STA, is a ''national disgrace'' because it published an interview with a rapper that was longer than a report about Mr. Jansa meeting Mr. Orban to kick off construction of a power transmission line.

Mr. Jans's government has since suspended funding for the agency, the country's principal provider of local and national news, forcing it to rely on crowdfunding to keep going.

There has been blood for years between the news agency's director, Bojan Veselinovic, and Mr. Jansa, who has denounced him as a ''political tool of the far left.''

''What the STA is going through and the government's attitude to it are unprecedented,'' Mr. Vaselinovic said. the government, he added, wants to turn the news agency into a ''bullhorn for the prime minister.''

Also cut off this year from modest government funds have been Mladina, the magazine edited by Mr. Repovz and where Mr. Jansa worked as a commentator in the 1980s, and Radio Student, an iconic fixture of the alternative media scene since the 1960s.

A conservative Catholic radio station and a bombastic, barely watched far right television station run by Mr. Jansa's allies did receive funds.

A ministry commissioned study by Media Faculty, a journalism school in Ljubljana, found no evidence that critical media had been muzzled, concluding that most outlets ''treat the government markedly less favorably than they do the opposition.''

Bernard Nezmah, a sociology professor and a Jamsa-supporting columnist for Mladina, acknowledged that the prime minister had tried to intimidate critical media voices. But Professor Nezmah said, ''His intimidation does not work.''

''None of the media that gets attacked by Jansa has changed its attitude,'' he said, noting that the country's three main daily newspapers and its two most-watched television stations, Pop TV and a public broadcaster, still regularly criticize the authorities.

Media watchdogs, however, believe there is a cause for alarm, especially with Slovenia about to take over the E.U. presidency.

The International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders and other media freedom organizations sent a letter to the head of the European Union executive arm in March, warning that Mr. Jansa could ''use the pulpit'' of the European president ''to attack journalists'' at home and across the bloc.

This, they said, ''is deeply troubling and could have a normalizing effect on this kind of behavior in the future.''

With all said and done, Mr. Jansa and his supporters insist that complaints about threats to media freedom have been ginned up by humourless leftist political enemies.

''He is a passionate person who says things on Twitter,'' said Mitja Irsic, a Cultural Ministry Official. ''But there is a difference between saying something stupid on the Internet and executing it in real life.''

The World Students Society thanks author Andrew Higgins.


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