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Feral Tribune is a political satire newspaper in Croatia.

Weekly journal of Croatian anarchists, protestants and heretics
God likes them, but Devil doesn't dislike them, either.

Today, Feral Tribune is a popular weekly newspaper, commonly with a provocative cover page, followed by recent short news ("Informbiro"), editorials, interviews, satirical section ("Feral Tromblon"), sections on music, books and the Internet. Of special note are the cover page which almost always has a fixed photograph ridiculing some current event, and the "Greatest Shits" section, where the editors collect the most ludicrous statements made in the Croatian media in the last week. The whole thing's usually between 50 and 100 pages in total, on fully colored glossy paper.

Feral Tribune's name is probably a play on Herald Tribune, but the word "feral" (lamp, colloquially) is cleverly used to make the name mean something like light for the people, and indeed that's what it has been. It was founded in 1984 by a trio of young journalists Viktor Ivančić, Predrag Lucić and Boris Dežulović. The trio named itself by combining letters in their names to form "VIVA LUDEŽ", meaning "long live madness". At that time, they were just a weekly supplement to the Slobodna Dalmacija daily newspaper.

Feral didn't really come to the spotlight until Yugoslavia broke apart in the early 1990s. Due to the change in the political system, there was basically nationwide confusion on many issues. This of course left a lot of room for "financial engineering", corruption etc. Add the renewed independence to that, and you get changes in the government and a burst of patriotism as well, which in turn opens a window of opportunity for nationalism, xenophobia etc. And finally, add Milošević's aggression and the force of Yugoslav army with their barrels pointing towards Croatia, and you get fear and uncertainty, which is fertile soil for warmongering, profiteering etc. All this, as you may imagine, provided a bounty of material to cover in a political satire paper such as Feral.

There begins the true story of Feral. As the political situation got more and more serious, the contents of Feral Tribune could no longer be mere satire -- the country was at the threat of occupation, and yet there were people who needed to be exposed. The editors had the daring to tell the truth even at such critical times, and even to spice it up with satire. The government took over Slobodna Dalmacija in 1992, and Feral was split off into an independent paper.

Feral was among the first Croatian newspapers to openly report on various topics that the state-controlled newspapers wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole: war crimes perpetrated by Croatian soldiers, Croatian army's involvement in the war in Bosnia, Franjo Tuđman's unapologetic opinions of the Ustashi ideology, the Herzegovina profiteer lobby, connections of the government and the Catholic Church etc.

In 1994, Feral had put out so much information to the public that was detrimental to the HDZ government, that something had to be done about it. The harassment began with the imposing of a 50% sales tax normally inflicted on porn press, under the pretense of Feral including pornographic content; but in 1995 the Constitutional Court (Ustavni sud) overturned that decision. In 1996, HDZ passed a law under which public criticism of the highest officials was punishable (?!), and of course Feral's editors were first on the list to sue.

Feral Tribune continued to publish freely, despite repeatedly getting sued for slander. The lawsuits went back and forth in the courts, as not all judges would apply the draconian laws. The government pressured Feral with other means as well -- the largest newspaper distribution company "Tisak" was getting looted by a tycoon and Feral was of course last on the list of creditors to pay off. Despite all this, Feral Tribune managed to survive, but not without donations from abroad.

The right wing HDZ government was replaced with a left-center coalition to in 2000, and Feral Tribune could breathe a sigh of relief. The legacy, however, continues to haunt it -- it has since lost several of the previously filed lawsuits, mostly on defamation of character. This isn't to say that Feral is a tabloid, it's just that they can rarely fully substantiate their claims about various wrongdoings, and the law, while no longer draconian, is still rather strict on the matter. Feral also continues to be a critic of the government, despite the fact the new gov't is of the similar political orientation: Feral is constantly on a lookout for any sort of corruption or any kind of dishonesty on the part of the government officials.

Feral may be controversial, but it is definitely not yellow journalism: it won several important awards over the years. Back in 1992 they received Tenžera's award and the Stefanel award. In 1996 they won International Press Directory's award for freedom of the press. In 1997 the World Association of Newspapers awarded them with their Golden Feather of Freedom, and they got the International award for freedom of the press from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 1998 they got the award for the best political satire newspaper in the world, awarded to them at the International fair of political satire in Forte dei Marma.

Feral Tribune is the ownership of those who write it and read it.

Feral Tribune web site is at http://www.feral.hr/.

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