The book promotion was held in the Croatian Journalists’ Association, followed by a public discussion panel themed “How to Return Media and Journalism to the Sphere of Public Interest – Croatian Case” and moderated by Brankica Petković (The Peace Institute). Introductory remarks set the tone for the rest of the discussion and highlighted many salient points arrived at through research conducted by Helena Popović (Faculty of Political Science, Zagreb). One of the South East European Media Observatory project goals is to research media integrity, a new analytical term developed by the research team and defined as “those values in journalism that enable the field and activity of journalism to act in public interest” (Petković).
The academic analysis of the topic leans on region’s common historical context traits and urges journalists to use ascension to European Union as an opportunity for democratization of countries’ respective media systems. Good media practices can be applied across country borders. Research isolated and identified sixty four various risk factors for media integrity within current media landscapes and ecosystems. Media ownership patterns, management of public service media, journalists’ working conditions and media practices are interpreted through the dynamic of conflict between public interest on one hand, and commercial, individual or political interest on the other.
Milan F. Živković from the Ministry of Culture expressed similar views with regards to media and public interest, and commented on project research as « [a] capital study, serves as a basic precondition for media policy to function in the interest of public. « Sandra Bašić Hrvatin (University of Primorska) concluded that it is impossible for media integrity to exist and thrive within the current media system.
Journalists and media outlets that do not act in public interest are corrupt, and corrupt media lead to the death of democracy. The media as they are now will most certainly perish; Bašić Hrvatin calls for the preservation of journalism rather than that of media. The audience applauded to Bašić Hrvatin’s assertion that journalism today creates a subtle cast system in which some are paid really well for what is essentially shoddy work, and others, who want to do their job properly, are either censured by their editors or cannot find paid work in the first place.
The discussion panel included many prominent figures of Croatian media landscape, some working as journalists and others as regulators of media outlets. The discussion itself was constructive as it enabled interaction between professionals who make executive decisions and professionals whose work is shaped by those decisions.
Goran Radman, Managing Director of Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), observed how «[t]here are very few studies of media and very little engagement, which makes every attempt to conceptually and empirically question worthy of praise,» but then he went on to declare the research chapter on HRT banal in its simplicity and inadequacy. Mirjana Rakić, Electronic Media Council President, declared that it is not Council’s duty to change possibly inadequate media laws but merely to ensure they are being respected. Nada Zgrabljić-Rotar, media expert (Faculty of Croatian Studies), presented a marxist critique of journalism profession, citing lost opportunities for restauration of media integrity. Ana Raić-Knežević (President, Croatian Media Council) was also present.
Slavica Lukić, a journalist at Jutarnji list, expressed her disappointment at the lack of implementation of self-regulating measures prescribed by the Media Law – it took ten years for various print publications to come up with media statutes which, once created, continue to not be implemented in the work environment. Journalists Ivica Grčar (freelance) and Marinko Jurasić (Večernji list) had an interesting conversation on professional ethics, in particular whether it is indeed necessary to reach to the other party in a situation being written about if one has all the necessary evidence.
Jurasić was content to have read the Media Integrity Matters since research systematically compiled facts known to journalism professionals but scattered over online forums and learnt in everyday practice. Zdenko Duka(President, Croatian Journalists’s Association) characterized the entire SEEMO project as beneficial as it provides space for kinds of debates Croatian Journalists’ Association aims to foster, with the goal of advancing media practices.
Media Integrity Matters book