The Maribor case

– The beginning –

The case began with an amateur mobile video recording of a man and a woman having intercourse in an high school office. The author claimed the people involved were a headmaster and a teacher in a Slovene high school.

At first the recording circulated among Slovene social media users (Facebook, YouTube), but it was quickly picked up by the local tabloids who ran their articles with names of the involved without confirming the authenticity of the recording.

– The uproar –

In two days time a screenshot from the recording with a link to the YouTube video circulated the country with media outlets putting pressure on the persons the video allegedly featured. After initially denying their involvement, the media after seven days of pressure published a confession obtained by the police that the tape was authentic.

The media also made phone calls to other authorities (the school union, psychologists) who at the time not knowing  whether the recording was authentic or not were quick to dispense moral judgement about the impropriety of the alleged act.

Whereas not all media outlets were involved, it is fair to say that each of them tried to cover at least one angle of the story. Even the serious media outlets such as the national TV hosted a round table which focused on the problem of privacy nowadays, focusing heavily on what is now known as “the Maribor case”.

After seven days of constant media pressure and moral judgement one of the persons involved committed suicide. This was the second known case in Slovenia where a person took his life after severe media pressure and the first one ever where the person was not a known public figure (politician, celebrity).

– The aftermath –

After the suicide everybody involved (the media, the public) ran for cover. The media were quick to point out their innocence and explained that they were just reporting on the case while in fact they were the ones who put it in the public sphere.

If the media had not put the involved persons in the media spotlight, there would be a lot less pressure on them and the tragic suicide might have been avoided altogether.

The public split into three distinct groups:

  • The first group claimed that the media is completely innocent and the burden of the crime lies squarely in the hands of the people involved. “Had they not done what they did, we would not be having a problem,” went the mantra.
  • The second group was quick to point out that the media is solely responsible for the entire incident since the tabloids were the ones who badgered the persons supposedly involved. “If the media had not brought this to attention, it would have all gone away in a day,” was the general opinion of this group.
  • The third group (which involved some media outlets as well) was pressing the moral argument claiming that the whole incident was completely irrelevant, that they have no interest in such subjects and that the whole thing showed that the media outlets need to realign their priorities. The irony was apparently lost on this third group since by publishing articles about the case being a non-issue, they were in fact promoting it even further.