(2014) PRESS COUNCIL ANNUAL REPORT
2014 Press Council Annual Report
WORK OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMISSION
Between January and December 2014, 80 complaints were submitted to the Press Council, which is slightly more than in the previous year, when the Council received 71 complaints.
Out of the total number of complaints, in 53 cases were filed by individuals, including public figures and government representatives, including the President of Serbia. The media and non-governmental organizations complained 11 times and state authorities and companies twice. In one case, the media itself asked the Commission to determine whether it had violated the Journalist Code. Only four complaints were resolved by mediation , indicating that newsrooms are still very reluctant to admit mistakes. By the end of the year, the Commission had ruled on 49 complaints, and three complaints from the end of 2014 were resolved in January 2015. In several cases, the complainants have dropped their complaints, while others were dismissed because they did not meet the formal conditions for consideration, mostly because the complaint was filed by a person who was not personally harmed by the published text. Out of the total number of complaints resolved, the Code violations were identified in 23 cases, out of which eight public warnings were issued to the media which do not accept the full competence of the Press Council. The number of cases found to be in breach of the Code is slightly lower than in the previous year, when such a decision was made in 28 cases.
As many as five times during the year, the Commission failed to agree on a decision, a problem that is likely to be solved by the proposed changes to the Statute of the Press Council, or the Rules of Procedure of the Complaints Commission, which provide for a different decision-making system from the existing one. In two cases, the Commission did not make decisions, but issued a statement on Tanjug’s complaint against several media outlets, and on the complaint of one citizen recommended that the media remove the content in question from online publications, which was accepted by all media outlets.
This year, the media most frequently violated the provisions of the Truthful Reporting section (11 times), mostly items related to the prohibition of publishing unfounded accusations, defamation or rumors, as well as the obligation to distinguish facts from comments, guesses and assumptions. Compared to the previous year, the provisions of the Journalist Code relating to the protection of privacy, journalistic attention and the protection of authorship were less violated, and the number of cases of violation of the presumption of innocence and non-discrimination increased (fivefold). In nine cases it was assessed that the text violated several points of the Code.
Some media outlets still do not respect the obligation to publish the decisions of the Commission, so in 2014 this obligation was avoided by “Vecenje Novosti” (twice), “Telegraf.rs”, “Alo” and “Kurir” once, while the editors-in-chief of “Nase novine” and “Informer ” one explicitly declined to publish the decisions. The Informer subsequently exited the self-regulatory system and no longer acknowledges the competence of the Press Council.
In other media, however, it happens sporadically that only short sections of the decision are published, in an inadequate place, or only in the print edition (and not in the online version, which is generally more readable).
This year, for the first time, a session of the Complaints Commission was held outside the premises of the Press Council, so that more than one hundred final year students of journalism at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade on May 29 had the opportunity to attend the session and get acquainted with the work of the Commission, decision making process and members of the Commission. The Commission, as usual, has considered the complaints received in the last month, and the students, after each decision of the Commission, asked questions and commented.
With the help of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, students from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts shot a short film from the event, which was translated into English, uploaded to the Press Council website, YouTube, and delivered to colleagues from other press councils in Europe.
The Complaints Commission has begun holding regular quarterly press conferences to present the most interesting cases it has considered in the past. Media experts, representatives of media associations and associations, as well as representatives of local non-governmental and international organizations are invited to the gatherings.
COMPLAINTS SUBMITTED FROM JANUARY TO DECEMBER 2014.
- Tanjug – several media outlets – The commission issued a statement pointing to frequent copyright infringement
- Regionalni centar za manjine – Telegraf.rs – code violation (decission not published)
- „Bečejskog mozaika“ requested Commission examine its aown article – no code violation
- Tanjug – Danas – no code violation
- Zoran Živković – Kurir – code violation (decission not published)
- Nikola Vlajnić – Somborske novine – no code violation
- Biljana Jovković – Svet – complaint rejected – paid content
- Dragana Jovanović – Blic – Commission failed to make decission
- Dveri – 24 časa – complaint rejected – text not forwarded
- Jovica Stević – Pečat – code violation – public warning issued
- Benjamin Jusufspahić – Sandžakpress – complaint rejected – text not about complaintant
- Vesna Pešić, Nikola Tomić, Vesna Mališić, Tamara Spaić, Branka Mihajlović, Branka Prpa i Vukašin Obradović – Politika – Commission failed to make decission
- Regionalni centar za manjine – Kurir – resolved by mediation
- Radenko Maletin – Blic – no code violation
- Željko Matorčević – Grocka.info – code violation – public warning issued
- Josip Horvat Blaznavac – Pečat – complaint rejected – not about named article
- Petrol LPG d.o.o. – Blic – complaint rejected – not clear who is the complainant
- Petrol LPG d.o.o. – Večernje novosti – complaint rejected – not clear who is the complainant
- Aleksandar Vukadinović – Tabloid – code violation – public warning issued
- Živojin Cvetković – sajt NUNS-a – complaint rejected – editoril policy issue
- Whistleblowers of Special hospital „Sokobanja“ – Politika – code violation
- Radisav Erić – Tanjug – Commission advised media to remove articles under question
- Radisav Erić –Telegraf.rs – Commission advised media to remove articles under question
- Radisav Erić – Šumadijapress- Commission advised media to remove articles under question
- Radisav Erić – Kurir – Commission advised media to remove articles under question
- Radisav Erić – Blic – Commission advised media to remove articles under question (all media accepted advice)
- Željko Stanetić – Vaseljenska TV – complaint rejected – media outlet not under auspicies of Press Council
- Bojana Rajić – Frankfurtske vesti – code violation – public warning issues
- Tomislav Nikolić – Alo – no code vilation
- Tomislav Nikolić – Blic – no code vilation
- Marko Mirković – Teleprompter – complaint rejected – article not about complainant
- Marko Mirković – Srbijadanas – complaint rejected – article not about complainant
- Željko Matorčević – Grocka info – no code violation
- Jelena Stojanović – Blic – no code violation
- Anamari Repić, Tatjana Slavić, Aleksandar Bojanić – Tabloid – code violation – public warning
- Gej lezbejski info centar – Naše novine – Commission failed to reach decision
- Aleksandar Milovančev – Blic – code violatino
- Gej strejt alijansa – Naše novine – code violatino (decission not published)
- Ivan Popović – Telegraf.rs – complaint rejected – article not about complainant
- Vladimir Rajić (lawyer of parents) – Blic – Commission failed to reach decision
- Aleksandar Maksimović – Glas zapadne Srbije – no code violation
- Ivan Živkov – RTV Vojvodine – complaint rejected – media outlet not under auspicies of Press
- Dejan Bačić – Novi glas komune – no code violation
- Institut za transfuziju krvi – Alo – Commission failed to reach decision
- Ozonpres.net – Glas zapadne Srbije – code violation – public warning
- Borislav Stefanović – Kurir – code violation
- Borislav Stefanović – Alo – code violation
- Aleksandra Barton – Politika – complaint rejected – Commission already decided on subject article
- Aleksandra Barton – Kurir – code violation
- Aleksandra Barton – Narodne novine – complaint rejected – 90 day deadline not respected
- Aleksandra Barton – Večernje novosti – code violation (media outlet did not publish decision)
- Glas zapadne Srbije – Ozonpres.net – no code violation
- Milan Cvetićanin – Alo – code violatino
- Glas zapadne Srbije – Ozonpres.net – complaint rejected – compaintant not personaly involved
- Aleksandra Barton – Alo – code violation
- Glas zapadne Srbije – Ozonpres.net – no code violation
- Aleksandra Barton – Blic – complaint rejected – 90 day deadline not respected
- Gordana Perunović Fijat – Nove kikindske novine – mediation
- Praxis – Telegraf.rs – code violation
- Praxis – Informer – prihvaćena žalba – code violation (decission not published)
- Andreja Nedeljković – Kurir – complaint rejected – compaintant not personaly involved
- Luka Božović – Kurir – no code violation
- YUCOM –Blic – code violation
- Miroslav Bojčić – Blic – no code violation
- Miroslav Bojčić – Kurir – no code violation
- Miroslav Bojčić – Večernje novosti – no code violation
- Miroslav Bojčić – Danas – no code violation
- Dina Stefanović – Telegraf.rs – complaint rejected – compaintant not personaly involved
- Regionalni centar za manjine – Informer – complaint rejected – compaintant not personaly involved
- Regionalni centar za manjine – Večernje novosti – code violation (media outlet did not publish decision)
- Kurir – Vrreme – no code violation
- Miodrag Jaćimović – Glas zapadne Srbije – code violation – public warning
- Protestantsko – evanđeosko udruženje – Telegraf.rs – mediation
- Ministarstvo kulture – Kurir – code violation
- Beba Kinački – Kurir – Commission failed to reach decision
- Lepomir Bakić – Alo – code violation (media outlet did not publish decision)
- Incijativa mladih za ljudska prava – Sandžakpres – complaint rejected – compaintant not personaly involved
- Marija Brusin – Teleprompter – code violation – public warning
- Ištvan Kaić – Politika – complaint rejected – does not pertain to media content
- Marija Maja Nikolić – Blic – no code violation
Legal Leaks Workshop
The Press Council successfully implemented a two-day “Legal leaks” news workshop, with about thirty journalists from all over Serbia. The workshop, held on June 16 and 17 at the Press Center of the Association of Journalists of Serbia, was organized in cooperation with the European Commission, UNESCO and Access Info Europe and SEENPM. More than 30 journalists from all over Serbia spoke with domestic and foreign experts about the practice of implementing the Law on free access to information in Serbia, how the media can obtain data from the European Union, how to use open databases, and how to the obtained information is to be presented in compliance with ethical, professional standards prescribed by the Serbian Journalist’s Code of Ethics . All workshop participants received a Legal Leaks manual in Serbian, which provides detailed instructions on how to apply for access to information in more than 40 countries.
Council of Europe trainings
Representatives of the Complaints Commission were lecturers at training sessions for journalists, organized by the Council of Europe, entitled “Freedom of Expression and the Right to Privacy”. Four training sessions were held during April, May and October 2014 in Zlatibor, Niš, Novi Sad and Vrdnik, with between 20 and 30 journalists participated.
Meetings with NGO representatives
In June 2014, the Press Council, in cooperation with NUNS, organized three roundtables in Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad on the role and manner of work of the Council, as well as how civil society organizations can use it to appeal. To the Council. During the same month, four informal meetings were organized with representatives of non-governmental organizations.
Printing of the Journalist’s Code of Ethics
In 2013, the journalists associations supplemented the Code with the provisions on the Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interest, and the Press Council, with the financial assistance of the Council of Europe, printed a new edition of the Code, supplemented by examples from the practice of the Complaints Commission. The Code was distributed to journalists from all over Serbia.
The members of the Press Council’s Complaints Commission visited Berlin on May 18-20 to study the German Press Council to learn about the experience of the self-regulatory body, which has been successfully operating for 58 years and receives between 1300 and 1500 complaints annually. Representatives of the Complaints Commission also visited the daily Beriner Zeitung, as well as the Zeit – online portal, with their editors discussing journalistic ethics and cooperation with the self – regulatory body. The visit was organized by the Council of Europe office in Belgrade.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the regional media self-regulation conference held in Pristina on March 24 and 25, creating the Network of Self-Regulatory Bodies of Southeast Europe (Media NEThics), which will serve as a basis for regional cooperation and exchange of experience in order to improve quality and professional media and ethical journalism in these countries, and to enable the press councils in the region to compete for donor funding through joint projects. The meeting was organized by the Council of Europe.
Representatives of the Press Council participated in the workshop “Press Council and Specific Cases of Violations of the Code of Ethics”, held on November 24, 2014 in Skopje. Together with colleagues from the Press Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they shared their experiences with colleagues from Macedonia, which established the Media Ethics Council at the end of the year. The information gained during this event will help them in future decision-making about complex cases of breaches of ethical standards in media reporting.
Council representative participated in the annual assembly of the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AIPCE), of which the Council is a member, held in early October in Brussels.