A year ago, Sabina Slonková acquired undercover footage of the president’s chief of staff, Jiří Weigl, meeting lobbyist Miroslav Šlouf in a downtown Prague hotel. Ms Slonková was recently fined 20,000 crowns by a Prague court for posting the footage on the news website Aktuálně while failing to disclose who had given her the tape. The fine that Ms Slonková paid for protecting her source was apparently the first of its kind since the Velvet Revolution, and on Tuesday the International Press Institute voiced its concern. Earlier, I spoke to director
For this edition of Czechs Today I met octogenarian Zdeněk Mahler, born and raised in Prague’s Industrial Vysočany district. Over the last three quarters of a century, Mahler has repeatedly found himself involved in some of the country’s best-known cultural exports. He helped prepare the famous winning Czechoslovak exhibit at the Brussels Expo in 1958, and lived and worked with a certain Miloš Forman throughout the period of the Czech New Wave.
Journalist Sabina Slonková has been fined 20,000 crowns (nearly 1,000 USD) for protecting one of her sources. Ms Slonková, who works for the news website Aktualně, refused to reveal who handed her material from a meeting held between lobbyist Miroslav Šlouf and head of the president’s office Jiří Weigl shortly before the presidential election last year. The reporter was convicted under a law which compels journalists to identify their sources when such information can be used to investigate serious crimes such as murder. Ms Slonková has said the lawsuit is tantamount to ‘harassment’. On Saturday, Mladá fronta Dnes reported that the fine was the first of its sort to be handed out since the Velvet Revolution.
The lower house of Parliament on Thursday overturned a Senate veto on a bill that would outlaw publishing transcripts or broadcasting recordings of phone calls intercepted by the police without the consent of the person concerned. If the president signs the bill into law, journalists who violated the ban could face up to five years in prison or a fine of five million crowns.
On Thursday evening the young journalist Jan Gebert received an award from the European Commission’s “For Diversity. Against Discrimination” campaign. The Czech national prize is for a piece he wrote for the magazine Reflex about Mongolian factory workers in a small town in Moravia. Though the article was published last year, the subject is topical, with the problems posed by rising unemployment among foreign workers making headlines recently.
The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association condemned a proposed amendment to the Czech criminal law which would ban the publishing of phone calls intercepted by the police. The Association says freedom of the press in the country would be threatened if the amendment enters into force. The condemnation comes a week after the same bill was criticized by Reporters Without Borders. The amendment, which introduces prison sentences of up to five years for anyone who publishes such interceptions, was approved by the lower house last year but was rejected by the Senate, sending it back to the Chamber of Deputies which is expected to vote on it again this month.
Dozens of Czech women have taken part in a demonstration organized by the website Babyweb.cz in protest at a decision by the global social-networking site Facebook to remove images of breast-feeding mothers posted by users. The women argue, that such pictures demonstrate a natural event, which should not be censored by the Facebook site. During the protest, dozens of mothers were photographed breastfeeding en masse by the renowned Czech photographer Sara Saudková.
Czech artist David Černý has criticised the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes for a hoax interview the daily ran in its Saturday edition, aimed, its editor-in-chief said, at testing Mr Černý’s sense of humour. The fake interview came in response to the artist’s recent duping of Czech officials and members of the public, that his controversial piece Entropa was the work of different European artists. It was only after it was unveiled in Brussels that it came to light that Entropa - which parodies European stereotypes - was largely Mr Černý’s alone. Saturday’s Mladá fronta Dnes made no effort to hide its interview was fake, apologising at the end of the article. The artist responded by suggesting there is a difference between how far a newspaper could go, saying it wasn’t the same as art.
Today in Mailbox: where to find archive MP3s on Radio Prague’s website, different ways to keep in touch with our programmes, the absence of the EU flag at Prague Castle as commented on by the French president. Listeners quoted: Richard Furlong, Ian Evans, Charles Konecny, Gene Stofko, David Eldridge.
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