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SU-PRO-MEDIA | 30.08.2018 16:25 > 30.08 16:32

Project SUPRO MEDIA - Conclusions and Recommendations

The SUP-PRO-MEDIA project – support to advancing and protecting media freedom and freedom of expression in the Western Balkans – was realized by the Beta Media Center in cooperation with the Telma TV station from Skopje, the KosovaLive media organisation from Pristina, the BetaPress news agency from Belgrade and blogger Slobodan Vaskovic from Banjaluka. The project was launched in October 2017 and consisted in the release of 24 multimedia stories in four languages: Serbian, Macedonian, Albanian and English. The entire production is available at the www.beta.rs/supromedia webpage.

At the final meeting of the partners, held in Pristina on Aug. 24 and 25, 2018, the following conclusions and recommendations were reached:

Conclusions:

1.The realized stories from the countries of the region reflect the current, key challenges the journalistic profession faces when it comes to freedom of expression and speech. These issues, common to all participating countries, concern the attitude of officials toward journalists, fake news, or security of journalists. Each country has its own, specific problems, all of them, however, revealing that journalists in all of them are exposed to pressure almost every day.

2.The project revealed how natural regional cooperation is, confirming once again that the countries of the region share the same problems, challenges and obstacles when it comes to the media and journalists that do their job duly respecting the standards of the profession.

3.Attacks and pressures the journalists in the region are exposed to are on the rise despite the advancement of the procedures and formal steps made to avert such situations. The frequency of attacks, procedural flaws and slowness in revealing and sanctioning offenders may lead to a conclusion that attacking journalists carries no legal consequences whatsoever.

4.Animosity toward media and journalists trying to do their job professionally is conspicuously on the rise. The role of news media as the basic actor in developing democracy is almost fully neglected. Those who act having this goal in mind are almost without exception presented in public discourse as enemies and treated as such. Pressure from political, economic or criminal circles that look with hostility on the freedom of speech and expression, dialogue or critical opinions is a common characteristic of the region as a whole.

5.The rapid technological development that has made the work of journalists easier and speedier has also turned the economic factor into the one that is of key and dominant importance in the media business, regardless of the type of news media. Thus, as a rule, those who control the sources of income for the media can easily influence the media and control them.

6.Being a journalist is no longer an attractive profession, meaning that young and well-educated people, who love the job, believe in it and are ready to invest time and energy in improving their skills and knowledge, are ever rarer in the media. For most young people journalism is an appealing profession only if it equals a well-paid position.

Recommendations:

-Readiness of the countries of the region to join the European Union should also be shown in meeting European standards when media freedom and freedom of expression are in question;

-Activities leading to the creation of feasible conditions for establishing a pluralistic media scene in all countries of the region should be encouraged and developed;

-Abiding by laws, professional codes and decisions regulating the media scene, encouraging media pluralism and advancing freedom of speech and expression should be advocated;

-The role of media as main actors in democratic processes and informing the citizens of what is in public interest should be strengthened;

-Fact-based reporting and reliance on multiple sources should be promoted so that the trust of citizens in media is restored;

-Activities aimed at prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of attacks on journalists and media should be constant;

-Continuous ties should be established between professional media and educational centers so that new generations will be made aware of the role of the media and the importance of public interest, and eventually be ready to pursue them further;

-The freedom of media and speech should be considered as a process that should constantly be advanced, while the problems in the area emerging in the countries of the region as well as the solutions applied should be incessantly identified and pointed out;

-Projects that are promoting the regional media community, independent and surpassing national, political and border divisions should be developed and supported.


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