Regional conference on anti-corruption in media

Regional conference on anti-corruption in media
It was held on 1 December 2014 in Ljubljana under the same title as its regional research report- »Media integrity matters«.
We need an alliance between the media, civil society and independent state institutions such as information commissioners or anti-corruption bodies to fight corruption in media, said Goran Klemenčič, Minister of Justice and former President of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of Slovenia at the regional conference on anti-corruption in the media systems in the countries of South East Europe. The conference was organized by the Peace Institute in Ljubljana on December 1, 2014 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. 
The conference gathered 40 anti-corruption experts from state institutions, investigative journalists, media researchers, representatives of civil society organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia to discuss the patterns of corrupt relations and practices in the media systems, map the experiences with anti-corruption measures of the field and examine the opportunities to move towards actions against systemic corruption in media.
Participants highlighted some of the key problems, including the insufficient capacities and sporadic experiences in this field, a lack of coordination between the various anti-corruption institutions and organizations and also the reluctance of the media to face systemic corruption in own field. 
During the conference the speakers and participants tackled various aspects of potential measures against corruption in media. It is important to identify the main actors of a potential anti-corruption framework which would be able to systematically address corruption in media, and protect and promote media integrity. Especially, as it was mentioned, the „ media are rather a problem than a solution to the fight against corruption in the media systems" in many cases. However, the media can be a deterrent of fraud and corruption and can play a very important part in revealing corruption in their own system, too. Some speakers mentioned a few gaps or lack of coordination among anti-corruption institutions and organizations in their own countries, but also highlighted new developments with national anti-corruption strategies. They urged to adopt coherent, preventive anti-corruption measures as there is a need for more concerted policies to address these problems in media. 
Although several speakers agreed that many specific questions are still to be answered, participants acknowledged the need to build alliances with clearly defined competences and tasks of each of the actors against corruption and for the integrity of media. Such coalitions can be elaborated at national or regional levels and should include independent state bodies, civil society organisations and media representatives and can partly rely on the work of investigative and data-driven journalists. The South East European Media Observatory will offer a framework for building such coalitions in 2015 and 2016, in the second phase of its operations.
Monday, 1 December 2014

9.00-10.00     Opening session  


Welcome: Neža Kogovšek Šalamon, Director of the Peace Institute, Ljubljana, SEE Media Observatory lead partner

Opening statement: Alma Sedlar, Deputy President of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Republic of Slovenia
Opening speech:
“Why media integrity matters? What is on the map of corrupt relations and practices in the media systems in the countries of South East Europe and why a systematic anti-corruption engagement is required?”
Brankica Petković, Media Program Director, Peace Institute, Ljubljana, lead researcher for the media integrity research conducted by the SEE Media Observatory
Patterns of corrupt relations and practices in the media systems – presentation of the cases disclosed by investigative journalists supported by the SEE Media Observatory

Chairperson: Ilona Moricz, Director of the Center for Independent Journalism, Budapest, SEE Media Observatory partner in Hungary

Vlado Apostolov, journalist, Fokus, Macedonia, SEE Media Observatory sub-grantee
Esad Hećimović, journalist and editor, OBN, Bosnia and Herzegovina, SEE Media Observatory sub-grantee
Bojana Barlovac, journalist, BIRN, Serbia, contributor to the SEE Media Observatory web site

10.00-11.00    Session 1

Who should act to combat corruption in the media systems?  Is it possible to develop an anti-corruption framework to systematically address corruption and clientelism in the media systems? How the work of independent state bodies on anti-corruption can be used here, and how anti-corruption actions of civil society organisations, researchers, and journalists can be integrated in a joint anti-corruption framework in this field?

Chaiperson: Brankica Petković, Media Program Director, Peace Institute, Ljubljana, SEE Media Observatory Coordinator

Keynote speaker: Goran Klemenčič, Minister of Justice, Republic of Slovenia, former President of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia (2010-2013)

Marin Mrčela, President of GRECO (Groups of States Against Corruption), Council of Europe (video)
Tatjana Babić, Director of the Agency for Combating Corruption, Republic of Serbia
Sandra B. Hrvatin, Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Koper/Capodistria, Slovenia
Lutfi Dervishi, Member of the Board of Directors, Transparency International, Albania
Eldin Karić, Editor of Ž, member of the anti-corruption network Account, Sarajevo, BiH

Open discussion

11.00-11.30    Break

11.30-13.00    Session 2

Power of independent state bodies to prevent and investigate corruption (particularly in the media systems), and the role of civil society organisations in this field. Which instruments for prevention and investigation can be used by anti-corruption state bodies? Have these instruments been used to disclose and combat corrupt relations between state/public institutions and officials on one side and media industry/media companies, media owners, advertising agencies, journalists on the other side? If the anti-corruption state bodies don’t act in this field, why it is like that? Can the action plans of anti-corruption bodies include a requirement of regular reporting on corruption in relations between the state and the media? What makes the anti-corruption state bodies strong and relevant, or weak and irrelevant – the power given to them by the legislation, or the people leading them?  Are civil society organisations actively engaged in transparency and anti-corruption actions in the media systems?  What are the lessons learned from such engagements?

Chairperson: Biljana Petkovska, Director of the Macedonian Institute for Media, Skopje, SEE Media Observatory partner in Macedonia
Mevludin Džindo, Assistant Director, Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and the Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Edlira Nasi, Inspector/Coordinator at the Department of Internal Control and Anti-corruption, Government of the Republic of Albania
Suad Missini, Board Member, Transparency Macedonia
Jelena Berković, Deputy Executive Director, GONG, Zagreb, Croatia

Open discussion

13.00-14.00    Lunch

14.00-14.30    Session 3

Making connections and public money transfers transparent. How to develop tools for collection of data about  connections and public money transfers, and how to make use of collected data for reporting and investigating corruption in the media system? How digital platforms and internet can be used?  

Case study:
a)    Supevisor – online tool of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption in Slovenia
Matjaž Mešnjak, Adviser on Prevention and Public integrity, Commission for the Prevention of Corruption in Slovenia

b)    Use of the Supervisor online tool for the data collection and analysis of money transfers from the state to the media in Slovenia
Matej Kovačič, Researcher  and Counsellor, Centre for Knowledge Transfer in Information Technologies at the Jozef Stefan Institute; former Head of analytics, intelligence and information security, Commission for the Prevention of Corruption in Slovenia (2010-2014)
Sandra B. Hrvatin, Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Koper, Slovenia

Open discussion

14.30-15.30    Session 4

Prosecution of corruption (in the media systems): What influences the work of prosecutors and police in this field? Is it legislation, capacities and competences of police and prosecutors, or political support to their role and independent work?  Why the cases of corruption and organised crime connected to media have been rarely investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned? Why certain corruption cases revealed by journalists and civil society organisations are not investigated and prosecuted by state bodies? Are journalistic research findings, and reports by civil society organisations used as information source for the police investigation and state prosecution of corruption in the media system? Which role investigative journalists (should) play in exposing the corruption cases and critically observing the state system of investigation and prosecution?

Chairperson:  Saša Leković, Director of the Center for Investigative Journalism, SEE Media Observatory partner in Croatia

Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery (video)
Maja Veber Šajn, Prosecutor at the Specialized Prosecutor's Office in Slovenia
Esad Hećimović, journalist, OBN, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zoran Antun Petrović, journalist and anti-corruption activist, former President of Transparency International Croatia

Open discussion

15.30-16.00    Break

16.00 – 17.30     Session 5

Who should protect and defend citizens' rights to communication and information against corrupt media? What is the role of an Ombudsman as an independent state body in this specific field? Are the Ombudsman institutions trusted? Are journalists trusted by the public to be considered a part of anti-corruption framework? What is the current situation of journalists investigating corruption, especially those researching corruption in the media systems? Where do they typically work, how they are financed, is their work appreciated and supported by their colleagues and the public? Who can support citizens in their needs and rights to receive accurate and reliable information, to have access to wide range of views and opinions without exposure to bias and propaganda? Who should empower and educate citizens to play role in the anti-corruption system?

Chairperson: Ines Bamburać, Executive Director of the Media Center Sarajevo, SEE Media Observatory partner in BiH

Jasminka Džumhur, Ombudsman, The Instition of Human Rights Ombudsmen of BiH
Jernej Rovšek, Deputy Ombudsman in Slovenia
Lóránt Csink, Head of Unit, Ombudsman for Fundamental Rights, Hungary
Blaž Zgaga, journalist, Slovenia
Jovanka Matić, researcher, Institute for Social Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia, co-author of the SEE Media Observatory's media integrity research report for Serbia

Open discussion

17.30-18.00     Closing session

Building media integrity coalitions at national and regional level? Is there a need and a potential to build media integrity/anti-corruption coalitions among independent state bodies, anti-corruption civil society organisations and those working for media freedom and integrity, and include investigative journalists in order to systematically and jointly act in exposing and combating corruption in the media systems, and in protecting and promoting media integrity in the countries of the region? What type of actions can be coordinated and jointly implemented?

Chairperson: Brankica Petković, Peace Institute, Ljubljana, SEE Media Observatory Coordinator

Rapporteur: Nataša Pirc Musar, founder of Info House - Institute for Privacy and Access to Public Information, former Information Commissioner in Slovenia (2004-2014)