Artists in frenzy over tabloid articles

  • 2000-01-27
Vilnius (ELTA) –A group of famous Lithuanian artists, professors of the music academy, have released an open letter to the authorities, urging them to study attentively the new mass media law, since its gaps "were artfully exploited by the new followers of a well-known opera character Don Basilio, expert in slander, who were plunging the society into a pit of lie, hatred, gossip and slop."

Alluding thus to the recent article in tabloidVakaro Zinios under the title "The legendary tenor of Lithuania is called a gay," the artists wrote in an open letter that the "great master of slander, Don Basilio from Rossini's opera "The Barber of Seville," would clap his hands, if he returned to life in Lithuania and read the mass media law, since slander here is given absolute freedom."

When presenting the artists' letter at a news conference, a famous tenor, professor Vladimiras Prudnikovas, underscored that in a country governed by law, a person was protected from illegal interference in his private and family life and the encroachment on his honour and dignity. The tenor added he too missed stricter actions of the commission for journalist ethics and journalist union in this story, although the chairman of Seimas' education committee, Zibartas Jackunas said that ethics commission reacted adequately albeit with delay to the scandalous articles in Vakaro Zinios.

"The commission for journalist and publisher ethics has taken a strict measure. The nnouncing of Vakaro Zinios as a tabloid or violent paper, and deprivation of privileges which are offered to decent media was an acceptable solution," Jackunas said.

The committee chairman admitted that the new version of media law should specify in more detail the economic sanctions as well. The lawmaker did not suggest a possibility that Parliament, in response to the impudence of tabloid, might take serious action, namely, to lift a maximum limit for compensations imposed on media in the case of insulting human dignity and integrity.

"We have to build up a normal, civilized system. Given we enjoy wide rights, we should equally assume wide responsibility," Jackunas said.