In memoriam: Predrag Lucić embodied the answer to the question whether journalists can be free

In memoriam: Predrag Lucić embodied the answer to the question whether journalists can be free

Foto: Borut Krajnc

Photo: Borut Krajnc

Some of us follow and study the state of media and the perspectives of independent journalism. We question whether independent reporting can function and develop in corrupt media systems and in corrupt states. The life of Predrag Lucić offered, and continues to offer, a reply to that question. Predrag embodied the freedom and playfulness of the spirit. An abundance of knowledge, a keenness of mind and writing, a downright childlike curiosity and vivaciousness, topped with kindness and courage – all this characterized Predrag Lucić the journalist.

Anyone, like us at the Peace Institute, who understands and supports journalism as freedom of thought and criticism, as a non-compromising look at the powerful, and as a public service, should feel compelled to pay respects to Predrag Lucić. This is our farewell to him.

Predrag collaborated with our institute, and never turned down an invitation to participate in a debate or to look for answers on the prospects of critical journalism and media. Predrag Lucić, Viktor Ivančić and Boris Dežulović were among the founders of Feral Tribune, an independent weekly published in Croatia from 1993 until 2008. In 2009 and 2010, a collaboration between the three founders, Mediacentar Sarajevo and the Peace Institute made it possible to have all issues of the newspaper digitized and published. Public debates were held in Zagreb, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Belgrade which addressed the possibility of making journalism a “free zone”, liberated from the predations of capitalism and nationalism. When, in November of 2009, we hosted a performance of The Melodies of Flash and Storm, a cabaret by Predrag Lucić and Boris Dežulović, the KUD France Prešeren hall was bursting at the seams. Predrag also took part in a journalistic debate on hate speech, which we organized in 2000 under the auspices of Open Society Institute – Slovenia.

He was our collaborator and supporter as we examined and advocated for media integrity under the South East European Media Observatory, a regional project run by the Peace Institute between 2012 and 2016.

He reviewed our book on the study of media integrity in selected South-East European countries, took part in its presentation in Split, and spoke to us in a video interview which we titled “Journalism taken from journalists”.

In the interview, he estimated that the media system had collapsed, that media had been taken from the public and journalism from journalists. However, Predrag thought, this had not been done by force. Journalists and editors had consented to it. They had failed to protect their professional integrity, and submitted wholeheartedly to the interests of media owners and their cronies. Predrag felt the profession of journalism had degraded both morally and as a craft, but insisted it nevertheless involved intense scrutiny of the journalists’ personal integrity. Apart from the basic precondition of quality, credibility is the most significant source of any journalist’s capital. Regarding the prospects and options for critical journalism, Predrag predicted that they would persist if the people, journalists particularly, expressed a need for them. He referred to the launch of Feral Tribune, and recalled that the founders were guided by the wish to write freely about the horrible circumstances in which they had found themselves; to create a medium in which they could write freely. “It sounds simple, and in principle it is.”

As far as Predrag Lucić was concerned, the only way to think, write, sing and laugh was to do it freely.