Estonia 200 manifesto exclusive in Postimees raises ethics concerns

Kristina Kallas and Lauri Hussar at their press conference on 14 January.
Kristina Kallas and Lauri Hussar at their press conference on 14 January. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Editor-in-chief of daily Postimees, Lauri Hussar, is leaving the paper and joining Estonia 200. This step has prompted questions as to Mr Hussar's ethics, seeing as Postimees was the only publication last year to initially run Estonia 200's manifesto when the group first went public.

Kristina Kallas, chairwoman of Estonia 200, recently claimed that they offered the manifesto to several publications, a claim that other editors-in-chief have rejected.

Urmo Soonvald, editor-in-chief of the news portal as well as daily Päevaleht, said that Ms Kallas' statement "surprised" him.

"It's possible that others were offered [the manifesto] and only Postimees agreed to run it, but it certainly wasn't offered to us," Mr Soonvald said. "When I first heard from one of Estonia 200's people that Postimees was about to publish the manifesto, I asked for the reason of that choice, and if it would be possible for us to get it in one form or the other as well."

"I got the answer that there was an earlier agreement with Postimees," Mr Soonvald added, whose and Päevaleht make up Estonia's second-largest news publication platform after Postimees.

Editor-in-chief of daily Õhtuleht, Martin Šmutov, also says they weren't offered the manifesto. "I don't remember someone sending it to me before it appeared in Postimees," Mr Šmutov said. "And I certainly didn't have any conversation about it."

Chief of ERR's radio news, Indrek Kiisler, asked at Estonia 200's Monday press conference about Mr Hussar's joining the party why Postimees had been the only paper to publish the manifesto on 2 May 2018.

Opinion editor of ERR's online portals, Rain Kooli, who would typically be the recipient of such an offer, also said that he neither received the text of the manifesto nor was he approached by the group in any way.

According to Mr Kiisler, the logic behind such a move is lacking, as it would make more sense to spread the word wherever possible, especially in the country's largest-circulation papers.

Ms Kallas replied that there had been "conversations" with other publications as well, but that they eventually decided to have it published only by Postimees first. Mr Hussar wasn't involved in the writing of the manifesto, she added.

Mr Hussar expressed his support of Estonia 200's agenda just days later in an opinion piece, also published in Postimees.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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