Lithuania’s national broadcaster LRT restructuring portal, chief editor cites threats

People behind the reform say that the changes will allow better use of technologies, while improving the content and dissemination. Meanwhile, editor-in-chief Vladimiras Laučius says the restructuring had not been harmonized with the editorial officer, which downplays the role of journalists.

Already Searching for Employees

Virginija Bunevičiūtė, spokeswoman for LRT, told BNS that one of the innovations of the reform is creation of the LRT Internet Department.

“The new department became necessary as part of strategic recognition of Internet as an important mean of consumer information and education, which, along with radio and television, should have the possibility of forming its content strategy. We noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to treat the portal as part of the Communications and Legal Department. As it is acquiring more freedom and flexibility, we want to provide even more opportunities to the talented journalists behind the LRT online content, therefore, we are founding the new LRT Internet Department,” Bunevičiūtė said in a comment to BNS.

In her words, the new division will have to take consideration of tendencies of today’s media and the changing consumer stance on the media.

“The function of the Internet Department will be more than just create unique content for the portal, social network accounts and updated mobile apps or improve the existing infrastructure of the LRT online media. We also hope to ensure smooth cooperation among separate LRT departments. Understanding that the content should be specifically adapted to individual medias, we will seek unity. For instance, internal and external producers creating content for television and radio will from now on adapt the content to different LRT online medias,” said Bunevičiūtė.

She said the new department is currently looking for six new employees, with the number fo be increased further in the future. Bunevičiūtė told BNS that LRT could not specify the investment needed for restructuring of the portal.

Laučius: Restructuring Humiliates Portal

Laučius, editor-in-chief of the portal, told BNS that he and the rest of the team were briefed on the restructuring on Jan. 12, although the restructuring was planned much earlier.

“The restructuring was carried out without coordination with me or the editorial office. LRT management officially presented the result on Jan. 12 as a final and indisputable solution, refusing to change anything or even discuss possible changes. We were told that this is how everything will be and we had to keep our opinions to ourselves,” said Laučius.

In his words, the promise was that the portal would become equal to the TV and the radio channel, however, was only transformed into one of the groups of the technical divisions.

“The technical category was put above the journalistic, and technical management above the most important value – the content of the portal and the authors. In my opinion, the decision runs counter to the usual superiority structure of any online media company. In other words, was humiliated as online media, although the public statements are that all this is done for the sake of online media,” said the editor-in-chief.

He expressed concern that the restructuring could supplement the portal with partner content, and the portal will have no influence on its content and dissemination. In Laučius’ words, the portal currently has staff of around 15 people.

Laučius said he had no plans to resign amid the restructuring, however, admitted “feeling certain pressure” from unnamed members of the LRT management over past weeks.

Media headlines were recently topped by the parliament’s decision to open a parliamentary probe into LRT’s financial operations.

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