UNESCO supports good governance of media in South East Europe
Under two separate missions to Belgrade and Pristina, the Director of the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) met with media leaders and officials of the media regulatory bodies of Serbia and Kosovo* to pave the way for new initiatives aimed to strengthen ethical management and good governance of the media.
The missions were conducted in Pristina in April and in Belgrade in September 2016 as part of the UNESCO project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”. Another Project partner, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), joined the EJN mission to Belgrade.
“The media crisis in Serbia, just as in Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244), can’t be allowed to deepen,” said Aidan White, Director of the EJN. “It’s time for leading editors and managers to step up and create a more open and ethical system of management and governance. Without that, it will be impossible to strengthen quality journalism and build public trust in media,” he added.
Discussions held by the representatives of EJN and EFJ with media professionals examined the current media situation and found that political bias, lack of transparency in media ownership, and weak economic situation contribute to a media crisis.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in the mushrooming community of online portals, which are often tied into political and financial circles through non-transparent arrangements for funding and ownership,” said Aidan White.
The two missions were conducted to prepare the launch of ethical audits and good governance seminars that will take place in October 2016 within selected media outlets in Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) and Serbia. At this stage, Koha Ditore, Zëri, Insider Online Agency, Kosovo 2.0 and Radio Television Kosova in Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) and Danas, Politika, N1 television, NIN, and Vreme along with RTS, PRV TV, and B92 TV in Serbia have agreed to work with EJN. The Media Association in Serbia expects that more media will join the activities at upcoming meetings in October.
Similar ethical audits and good governance seminars will be carried out in in 2017 and 2018, namely in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Turkey.
The guidelines for the ethical audits have been finalized and translated thus far into Albanian, Serbian and English (available here). The guidelines will assist media editors and managers to develop an internal culture of periodic review and evaluation of their own commitment to ethical standards and good governance principles. “Without ethical and transparent media management it is impossible to ensure editorial independence and journalism that the public can trust,” said Aidan White.
The UNESCO Project Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey is funded by the European Commission and UNESCO. The project seeks to strengthen media self-regulation system as well as improve the internal governance of media organizations based on the commitment of media owners and editors to respect clearly defined professional and labor standards.
* Administered by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
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