“An assault on journalists is an assault on all of us,” learn the opening phrases of the documentary “The Killing of a Journalist,” which was screened on the Freeman Spogli Institute final Thursday.
Directed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Undertaking (OCCRP) and Closing Reduce for Actual, the 2022 movie follows the investigation of the 2018 murders of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová. Previous to his dying, Kuciak was tracing tax fraud of a number of businessmen with connections to top-level Slovak politicians.
This was the primary time a journalist was murdered in Slovakia since its independence. The killing left a permanent mark on all the nation, sparking widespread demonstrations and a surge of protests demanding justice.
The documentary goes far past merely exposing the folks answerable for the murders. It recorded an OCCRP-led investigation of the murders, which make clear deep-rooted corruption at Slovakia’s govt, legislative and judiciary ranges, in the end resulting in a number of resignations and a political transition.
Pavla Holcová, member of OCCRP and present John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford, labored with Kuciak earlier than his dying. She took an important function within the investigation. As Kuciak’s shut collaborator and pal, she and her group have been personally motivated to reveal corruption within the Slovak authorities, ending the tales Kuciak began.
Throughout a Q&A session following the screening, Holcová stated that the investigation was in a position to make a constructive distinction as a result of the “media put apart the competitors mentality and obtained collectively to research.”
The investigation noticed a breakthrough after an nameless supply delivered Holcová a 70-terabyte file of the homicide case, with the hope that she would deliver the case to nationwide consideration.
“Though public outrage and political stress did assist speed up issues, this type of [thorough] investigation occurred as a result of good members of police needed to research and cross the data to the journalists,” Holcová stated.
Drew Sullivan, co-founder of OCCRP and govt producer of the documentary, stated that even when the investigation stays dormant, journalists’ work can nonetheless be used to uncover the reality later.
“What’s essential is [for journalists] to do the precise factor,” Sullivan stated.
Nonetheless, the documentary’s “completely satisfied ending” — the folks’s victory over corrupt officers — got here crashing down lately. Former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was compelled to resign following the murders, was reelected and commenced his fourth time period as prime minister final Wednesday.
OCCRP co-founder Drew Sullivan referred to as the reelection a political backfire in opposition to the incompetence of the earlier authorities.
“To stop financial chaos, [people] most well-liked to decide on identified evil over the unknown,” Sullivan stated.
The opposite OCCRP co-founder, Paul Radu, stated that this example was comparable throughout Jap Europe, the place many international locations noticed no clear method out of the management of populist and corrupt governments.
Nonetheless, the panelists believed the concerted efforts within the investigation for Kuciak’s and Kušnírová’s murders would go away a long-lasting impression.
After its premiere in Could 2022, “The Killing of a Journalist” ran for 3 months in Slovak theaters, educating folks on threats to Slovak democracy. Radu lauded the movie for making a protecting defend for journalists and civilians from the “Russia-style lawless society.”
In line with Radu, the continued struggle in Ukraine erodes the credibility of the Russian authorities and highlights their suppression of free media. The struggle will considerably affect the long run progress of Central European democracies, he stated.