Media in South East Europe: Reporting in times of crisis

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The "South East Europe Media Forum" in Belgrade brought together 440 journalists, media experts and politicians from 20 countries.

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Presentation of the "CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism"

Presentation of the "CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism"

Media makers must professionally deal with crises – those in politics and those in their own industry. Quality journalism in times of crisis was the theme of the tenth "South East Europe Media Forum" (SEEMF) on the 21st and 22nd of November in Belgrade. At the largest media conference media in the region 350 specialists discussed, among other topics, the refugee crisis, war reporting and the training of young journalists in changing circumstances. Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić spoke at the opening.

The event was opened by Christian Spahr, Director of the KAS Media Program South East Europe, and Oliver Vujović, Secretary General of the South East European Media Organisation (SEEMO). "This forum is a platform for exchange about what we can improve with common forces. Informing citizens in a better way and creating high professional standards – these are two main themes of this conference", Spahr said. An additional co-host was the Central European Initiative (CEI), based in Trieste.

The Swiss Ambassador to Serbia, Philippe Guex, also spoke during the official opening. "Journalists in South East Europe are working under difficult conditions", he said. The European Commission (EC) had drawn attention to the increasing restriction of media freedom in the region. Reports of the Commission made important recommendations, for example on avoiding political influence on the media and implementing media legislation. The Swiss Ambassador made clear that journalists themselves bear the responsibility for professional ethics. Informal networks like SEEMF were of particular importance in this respect, in reflecting on the problems of the industry.

Andrea Orizio, Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, said that first victim of every crisis was the truth. Journalists nowadays had little time to analyse the context and to present a broad view of events. CEI Secretary General Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri emphasised the importance of investigative reporting for the further development of democracy in countries in transition.

The Head of the KAS Office for Serbia and Montenegro, Norbert Beckmann-Dierkes, underlined the role of the media for democracy and the significance of professional networks: "SEEMF is making an important contribution to professionalisation of the media in South East Europe." Radomir Ličina, SEEMO representative in Belgrade, commented that the conditions for independent journalism in South East Europe continue to deteriorate and the media in the region face difficult challenges.

Keynote by the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić on the opening day

Among other matters, the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić talked about the refugee crisis, one of the main themes of this year’s conference. Vučić noted that the number of refugees had reduced. There was a good cooperation with the Bulgarian and Turkish authorities in controlling the borders. The Prime Minister spoke in favour of stronger cooperation with neighbouring countries such as Albania. A further topic of his speech was the activities of the Serbian Government in the field of the media, including legislation for freedom of information and the privatisation of media. Vučić was emphatic that he and his Government were open to dialogue with the media makers. In response to questions, Vučić answered international correspondents on matters of domestic and foreign policy.

More in the event report.

Author

Manuela Zlateva

Publication series

Event Reports

published

Serbia, November 25, 2016