Promoting Media Accountability in South East Europe and Turkey

© UNESCO - Local media interviewing conference participants. Regional conference “Addressing online hate speech in South East Europe and Turkey: the role of media accountability mechanisms”, 16-17 October 2013.

With financial support from the European Union, UNESCO is promoting freedom of expression and press freedom in South East Europe and Turkey. The project, entitled “Media Accountability in South East Europe”, seeks to build on UNESCO’s previous efforts funded by the European Union by raising awareness and building capacity of media professionals to strengthen ethical and professional standards in journalism. The project is being implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, as well as in Kosovo (administered by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244).

Overview of activities

National Roundtables: Addressing online hate speech and the role of media accountability mechanisms: In cooperation with the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM) and existing press councils in the region, media professionals, media experts and representatives of media accountability bodies met to discuss the results of a draft survey assessing trends in hate speech across South East Europe and Turkey.

Regional conference: A conference on addressing online hate speech in South East Europe and Turkey through media accountability mechanisms was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from 16 to 17 October 2013.

Research on hate speech in online media: Research is being conducted to identify measures needed by media and other organizations to address hate speech in online media, as well as these measures’ effectiveness and impact on freedom of expression.

Regional networking: The project will help media professionals, members of press councils and professional associations at the local and sub-regional level to connect with processes that promote voluntary media self-regulation at the wider European level (e.g. sponsoring participation in activities organized by other European media self-regulation institutions, attendance to the annual meeting of the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe, etc.).

Public awareness on media accountability: By organizing local campaigns, UNESCO and the European Union seek to increase awareness of journalistic professional standards, ethics and media accountability systems.

Media accountability mechanisms: To support the establishment of accountability mechanisms in countries where no press council currently exists, two pilot news ombudsmen positions were created within the Albanian newspapers MAPO and Shqiptarja.com. This activity has been implemented in collaboration with the Albanian Media Institute.

Knowledge and skills on Freedom of Information (FOI) Laws: Journalists can strengthen such skills through various activities organized in partnership with Access Info Europe. These activities include regional training; support and legal assistance in filing FOI requests; facilitation of cooperation between journalists within and between countries; and meetings with senior media management/ editors-in-chief to encourage their support for journalists’ use of FOI laws within their investigations.

Previous action in support of Media Accountability in South East Europe and Turkey

The current initiative builds on a European Union-funded project that was led by UNESCO from August 2008 to February 2011 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey, as well as in Kosovo (as understood under UN Security Council Resolution 1244). This initial project, entitled “Alignment to International Standards in the Media Sector of South East-European Countries”, supported the development of self-regulation mechanisms and the adoption of media accountability best practices through two series of local roundtables, two region-wide meetings and a closing conference organized in Paris in January 2011. The closing conference brought together press council members, new ombudsmen, editors, journalists, academics, and representatives from media institutes, civil society and international organizations. Participants also shared knowledge through the publication Professional Journalism and Self-Regulation. New Media, Old Dilemmas in South East Europe and Turkey  and a special section on Professional Journalistic Standards and Codes of Ethics developed on UNESCO’s website.

 

Development partner

Project timeline

30 November 2012 30 November 2015

Countries

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