Death of troubled star raises questions over role of tabloids

Iveta Bartošová, photo: CTK

The tragic life story of the 1980s Czech pop star Iveta Bartošová has come to a shocking end. After years of addiction and alcohol abuse and destructive personal relations, the 48-year-old singer committed suicide on Tuesday by throwing herself under a train. Bartošová’s tribulations in recent years were very closely followed by the country’s tabloids and some, including her husband, believe that the media’s invasive attention contributed to her demise. But can the tabloids really be held to blame? That’s a question I put to journalist Jana Ciglerová, who frequently writes on women’s issues and showbiz.

Iveta Bartošová,  photo: CTK
“I think that those who say that don’t know how Czech tabloid media work, and I also find it a bit hypocritical.

“The tabloid media in the Czech Republic don’t have the time or money to wait endlessly outside the house of Iveta Bartošová or any other celebrity to see if they come out with a dirty T-shirt on. The tabloid media here are on call. Someone calls them, and they arrive.

“Who I really think is responsible for her death is her husband because she was turned into a puppet of his. He made her dependant on him, he isolated her from all her friends or anyone who could give her a different point of view.”

“Once in such isolation, she could not get away from him. If you knew you have so much influence on someone who love, or you say do, and who you know has to go to rehab, you would do anything to get them there. But why didn’t she go to rehab? Because her husband did not allow her to.”

Why did Iveta Bartošová attract so much tabloid media attention?

“She was once a really big star and her life seemed almost perfect, and some people get pleasure from watching someone fall from such heights.

Iveta Bartošová with her husband Josef Rychtář,  photo: CTK
The other thing is that her partners and the people around her were actively cooperating with the tabloids, supplying them information and photos. They needed Iveta to make money, and the way you do that in the kind business she was in – entertainment and showbiz – you need to be talked about.”

The Czech debate about the role of tabloid media started last year when one of the leading editors openly spoke about their hunt for Iveta Bartošová. Do you think the tragic end of Iveta Bartošová’s life will have any consequences for the way tabloid media work here?

“I don’t really think so. I think Iveta was an exceptional case and a tragedy there was waiting to happen. What we just didn’t realize was that she would actively seek death. But I can’t really see Czech tabloid media doing anything else than trying to sell more copies.”