Initial debate on media integrity held in Montenegro

Initial debate on media integrity held in Montenegro

The event was organized by the Montenegro Media Institute in the framework of the SEE Media Observatory project. It was held on 12 May 2015 in Podgorica under the title: "Do media and journalists serve to public or have they been seized by individual, private interests?"

The conference gathered representatives of Montenegrin media, regulatory and self-regulatory bodies, media researchers and analysts, investigative journalists and media experts from Croatia and Slovenia, as well as representatives of civil society organizations to discuss the patterns of corrupt relations and practices in the media systems, that are degrading the position of journalists and their credibility to report on topics of public interest.

Initial incentive to the debate gave the head of the European Delegation to Montenegro, Mitja Drobnič who stated that freedom of expression constitutes the essence of the EU integrations. "Without integrity, journalism is not reliable. On the other hand, integrity gives journalists necessary credibility to investigate stories of public interest", stated Drobnič.

Participants highlighted some of the key problems, including the non-functional media market, media dependence on the assistance from the state or political parties, professional and economic degradation of the journalistic profession, but also the absence of proper reaction from journalists themselves due to the lack of professional solidarity. 

During the debate, it was pointed out that the main reasons for deterioration of media integrity were "irresponsible policies that roughly pushed the media into illicit relationships with power centers". Some of the participants highlighted that corruption occurs in the management of the media, "who serve as intermediaries between private interests and the journalists who are treated as inevitable cost of production, without any rights to raise the voice of their own". Although not all of the participant believed that the situation can be improved, they all agreed that dominantly "servile" journalism cannot be of any benefit to the State.

One of the key conclusions of the debate was that it should take urgent measures to introduce the control state advertising spending in order to prevent the potential "silent censorship" and impact on the financial performance of certain media.

The conference was organized as part of the project "South East European Media Observatory" with a support from the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations Program for Independent Journalism.