Versita

THE EXCEPTIONAL STATE OF THE MEDIA: SOME EXPERIENCES IN POST-SOVIET LITHUANIA

Gintaras Aleknonis
Keywords: Exception, media, immunity, confidentiality of the source of information, disclaimer ,

Abstract

Theoretical attempts to solve the problem of exception inevitably draw attention to the conflict between freedom and equality, the core values of a democratic society. Granting exclusive rights to one institution or another is justified by the principle of freedom, yet this does not necessarily comply with the idea of equality. Experience shows that it is difficult to avoid exceptions and exceptional rights in the search for consensus in a democracy. Using the popular myth of the fourth estate, media often claims such special rights.
This article examines how over twenty years of independence Lithuania has treated one of the most widely applied privileges of mass media – confidentiality of the source of information. When discussing how in practice Lithuania implements the right to deny false claims, it is assumed that mass media disregards all information accuracy principles and aims to portray itself, at least in its own eyes, as an infallible institution having exclusive rights. The country‟s weak declarations of interest traditions, which have not yet fully developed in the past fifteen years, only strengthen such mass media attempts.
Exclusiveness is in the nature of the media already, in that it helps to draw the attention of the public and can provide significant economic benefits. On the other hand, a privileged position often damages the media, since the fourth estate is special – its authority should be based not on rights and privileges, but on trust.