State of the media worse than ever – for years now
Censorship and self-censorship, tabloidization, media lynch of the “unsuitable,” political and economic pressures, and intimidation of journalists – these are only some of the problems that journalists’ associations and NGOs warn of on the World Press Freedom Day.
As a constant in the evaluation of Serbian media scene, it can be heard that the situation is “worse than ever.” And so it has been for years.
Approved laws, regulations, and codes adapted to the highest European standards changed nothing, and they are violated by both politicians and the media. Both are losing sight of what is legally defined as role of the media.
The Law on Public Information, Article 15: “Public interest in the sphere of public informing is:
1. Truthful, impartial, timely, and complete informing of all citizens of the Republic of Serbia;”
Like Serbian society, journalistic profession in Serbia is deeply divided. The gap is such that it appears that some media outlets exist only to publish articles that are of interest to the authorities, while other media challenge every move of the current government.
The Law on Public Information states that all citizens have the right to information.
“Everyone has the right to be accurately, completely, and timely informed on matters of public importance, and the media are obliged to respect that right.”
The media, especially the tabloids, continuously violate the Journalistic Ethical Code. The only penalty for violation of the ethical code is a warning issued by the Press Council. Also, the media that violate the code can freely apply and participate in project funding provided by the state.
The Journalistic Ethical Code: It is the obligation of journalists to accurately, objectively, fully, and timely inform the public on the matters of public interest while respecting the basic standards of journalistic profession.
At the same time, and contrary to the Law on Public Information, representatives of both the opposition and the ruling parties in Serbia discriminate against journalists for their editorial policy by deciding which journalists they will answer to.
The Law on Public Information: “Prohibited is direct and indirect discrimination of editors, journalists, and other personnel in the public information sector, especially discrimination against their political affiliation and belief or other personal characteristic.”
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