Only Journalists Can Save Journalism
Journalists and media experts discussed the good practices in journalism and how they can serve as models of protection of media integrity.
There are good practices in protection of media integrity in the region of South East Europe but many problems exist too, it was said at the Sarajevo round table "How to save integrity of journalism and media", held in Mediacenter on Thursday.
Commercial media or public broadcasters are nowhere among the good practices, they are all non-profit media formed by journalists who were not satisfied with the mainstream media, showed a report by Brankica Petković from the Peace Institute from Ljubljana.
"All good examples [in protection of media integrity] are non-profit media, established by journalists and they are all clear with what is the purpose of journalism. They are clear of their public mission, journalism as public services. Only journalists can save journalism – not the state, not the government, not the researchers," Petković told the conference.
Some of the topics during this one-day meeting were about developing regulation and measures to protect media integrity. It was said that there has to be a social climate that something is prohibited and that auto-censorship is unbearable in the media and the societies dealing with consequences, have to start dealing with causes.
"There is nothing scarier than to realise that you are fighting for the media integrity, and those who should be fighting for that – the ones it is all about, the media – obstruct you," said Miroslav Milićević, Vice President of Anti-corruption Council of the Government of Serbia.
Another source of difficulties for the media, aside of wide-spread corruption, are problems on the advertising market because of political control and mentorship over the advertisers. Experts said that hidden and political marketing needs to be faced and that in the market stripped off cash, with large advertisers being controlled by politics, the media are in no position to have demands.
"The largest asset of the media is the credibility. The problem is that media are not earning from that," said Samra Lučkin, director of Boram advertising agency from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As the advertising market is not the brightest source of living for the media, on the other side, donations for the media decreased over the past decade. Still, good journalism lives on in the South East Europe.
The conference heard models from several different media organizations including the Novosti weekly in Croatia, online magazine Žurnal.info from Bosnia and Herzegovina, regional organization the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, Sarajevo-based Center for Investigative Reporting and Buka online portal from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Good journalists, donors money, respecting standards of the profession, is what makes it possible, it was said.
"True journalism can exist only if there is someone to support it," concluded Boro Kontic, director of Mediacenter Sarajevo, one of the members of the South East European Mediaobservatory, a partnership of organizations to monitor media integrity and promote media reforms.