(DISCLAIMER: CAAS and Media Matters 2017 have no affiliation with the US non-profit Media Matters for America. The name of the conference was chosen solely because it represents the topics and aims of the conference accordingly.)
On Saturday, the 25th of March 2017, the first Media Matters Conference, organized by the Center for Anti-Authoritarian Studies took place at the hotel Metropol Palace in Belgrade. With more than 100 visitors, the conference gathered the leading domestic journalists and media experts who shared their opinions about topics like the status of investigative journalism, journalist ethics and the freedom of the press in Serbia. Visitors also had the opportunity to hear about the experiences of CAAS School of Journalism alumni who got internships at the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) after this educational program.
The conference was officially opened by Ratko Nikolić, the president of the Center for Anti-Authoritarian Studies, who welcomed the visitors while stressing the importance of free press for the preservation of democracy and its institutions. As CAAS’ main goals, he noted the protection of free speech, promotion of independent journalism and empowerment of young journalists. He also spoke about how these goals are embodied in CAAS’ two main projects, its School of Journalism and the Media Matters conference which was organized with the aim of notifying the public about the latest developments within the Serbian media sector, promoting journalism as a profession, as well providing a networking opportunity for young journalists.
Aleksandar Kokotović, the programs director of European Students for Liberty followed with stressing the importance of investigative journalism as well as the need to make its findings more influential in public. ESFL was the co-organizer of the conference alongside the Atlas Network, a libertarian foundation based in the U.S.
Saša Mirković, Programs Director of CAAS speaks about the organization’s mission and projects realized so far, Media Matters 2017
Panel Debate – CAAS School of Journalism and internship at KRIK, alumni experiences
The first panel debate gathered the the journalist of KRIK, Dragana Pećo and CAAS School of Journalism alumni Jelena Radivojević and Milica Vojinović, who spoke about the knowledge and skills obtained during the School of Journalism as well as about the experience of being a intern at KRIK after the aforementioned educational program.
Jelena Radivojević and Milica Vojinović speak about CAAS School of Journalism and their internship at KRIK, Media Matters 2017
Panel Debate – Investigative Journalism in Serbia
Panel debate Investigative Journalism in Serbia gathered the leading local investigative journalists Dragana Pećo (KRIK), Irena Stević (Insajder); Vladimir Radomirović (Pištaljka); Milorad Ivanović (Newsweek) and Ivana Jeremić (CINS), while it was moderated by Dino Jahić (CINS).
The speakers agreed that the conditions for investigative work were never better, however that at the same time the interest of the public for their findings was not proportional. They also noted that the relationship with the governmental institutions has been progressively worsening during the last few years which made obtaining information of public significance increasingly difficult. Proactive approach to job searching and constant personal development through informal educational programs like CAAS School of Journalism and other were described as the best advice that could be given to young and aspiring investigative journalists.
Irena Stević (Insajder) answers the questions of our alumni, Media Matters 2017
Dino Jahić (CINS) answers the questions of our alumni, Media Matters 2017
Interview with Dragana Pećo (KRIK), Media Matters 2017
Panel – Freedom of the Press in Serbia
The speakers of the panel that dealt with the freedom of the press in Serbia were Nedim Sejdinović of the Independent Journalist’s Association of Vojvodina, Slobodan Georgiev of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and Slobodan Antonić who is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade, while the panel was moderated by Ivana Pavlović from Istinomer.
The speakers debated about the nature and manifestations of media censorship in Serbia and agreed that, although freedom of the press exists, it is confined to the online portals which are almost impossible to fully censor, while most of the mainstream media are either directly or indirectly controlled by the Prime Minister and the ruling party. They spoke about the difference between hard and soft forms of censorship and concluded that the latter dominates in Serbia. It was also noted that the journalists must, before anyone else, fight for their freedom of expression themselves.
Slobodan Georgiev (BIRN) answers the questions of our alumni, Media Matters 2017
Panel Debate – Journalist Ethics
The fourth panel dealt with the norms of journalist ethics and their practical application in the Serbian media and the speakers were Snježana Milivojević, professor from the Faculty of Political Science, Tamara Skrozza from the Press Council; Antonela Riha from RTV Šabac i Milica Šarić from CINS-a, while the debate was moderated by Vesna Radojević from Istinomer.
While making a retrospective of the last few years regarding the adherence of the local media to the norms of the journalist ethics, the speakers observed and alarming increase of unethical and irresponsible journalism. Snježana Milivojević advised young journalists to be proactive and start their own journalist organizations and all of the speakers concluded that all of the independent journalists must unite against the pressures coming from the positions of power.
Interview with Tamara Skrozza (Press Council), Media Matters 2017
Interview with Vesna Radojević (Istinomer), Media Matters 2017
Marija Planić i Nevena Šaulić
Camera: Filip Stojiljković