From the Introductory essay
“I do not know who was that wise man who said that journalism was the sixth largest power in the world; unless he was making wisecracks about journalism, he must have been out of his mind. /.../ Much work – low earnings, much resentment – little honor, much responsibility – nothing certain, and a journalist who puts his pen to rest today may perhaps be without a lunch tomorrow.”
Jakob Alešovec, Ljubljanske slike, 1879.
At times, the past strikes one as being the present or even the future. Historians often find in history things that remind us of the present. However, are these analogies justifiable or are they simply a result of our mental representations? There is no simple answer to this question. One should be cautious when comparing the present and the past. It is not possible to gain a complete understanding of the past, much as it is impossible to completely understand the present, the time in which we live.
Most of this book was written between 2007 and 2010. Or rather, we were writing the book without knowing it. We had believed that we were writing essays on the history of the Slovenian public sphere for the Media Watch Journal until the editor, Brankica Petković, drew our attention to the fact that throughout this time we were writing a book, indeed. We then decided to put the idea into practice, but our work was far from finished at that moment. The articles had to be revised, some parts were added, and most importantly, the texts had to be given a theoretical framework and placed in space and time (hence the longish introduction to this book). All of this would have been impossible without Brankica’s unselfish assistance and the help of the Peace Institute and the Slovenian Book Agency. We are grateful to all those who made this book possible.
The book consists of six chapters on Slovenian media history. All the subjects (censorship, political struggles, the economic crisis, the Balkans, folk songs and racism) are as topical today as they were at the time when they were discussed. What has changed then? Obviously, “time” has changed, since “space” is more or less consistent. And yet, this is only partly true. Symbolic-geographical space is like an accordion that stretches and shrinks under the pressure of historical change. Furthermore, topicality depends on writing style, among other things: by combining traditional historical analysis and a journalistic-literary style, we have tried to relativize the image of the contemporary media landscape and lend it a historical dimension. To achieve this, we quoted interesting passages from old newspapers whose archaic discourse illustrates the language of Slovenian journalism of the time. We hope that the book will be equally interesting for readers who are not well acquainted with this subject as well as for social scientists who study the contemporary media.
Every book needs a title. Why have we chosen Ours and Yours? The reason is that the most conspicuous feature of the Slovenian media discourse of the time was sharp divisions: between us and them, Slovenes and Germans/Italians, liberals and clericals, Europeans and Negroes, us and Jews, and so on. This is not to say that divisive discourse was a Slovenian peculiarity; in this respect, the Slovenian public sphere was in sync with the wider, European space. (...)