Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro

The State has to create conditions for professional journalism

21/10/2019 - 10:08
News stories

Disinformation distorts public debate

photo: Borko Zdero

The media should make no compromise when it comes to achieving high ethical standards in reporting. Journalistic texts must be accurate, impartial, present diversity of opinion, and respect the fundamental rights of individuals, asserted the EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, during the Conference “Dealing with ethics and fake news.”

“Journalists today are faced with an unprecedented phenomenon of "fake news" or, as we in the EU prefer to call it, the phenomenon of "disinformation." Disinformation distorts the public debate, it undermines the citizens' trust in institutions and the media, and even destabilises the democratic processes and the integrity of elections,” said Orav.

Addressing disinformation is more than simply debunking news or myths; it requires the strengthening of professional and independent media, empowering journalists, and fostering digital and media literacy, stated Ambassador Orav.

“The public service broadcaster bears an even greater responsibility than the private media towards the citizens who pay for it and whose interests must be protected. The role of the government in building resilience to disinformation should not be underestimated. The State has to create conditions for professional journalism and increase media literacy, especially amongst young people,” advised Orav .

The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Montenegro, Alison Kemp, said that, as in other countries, there is disinformation in Montenegro that influences public debate and certain elections. She said the UK had announced a £10m aid package this year to help media independence in the Western Balkans.

Kemp stated that the digital revolution had led to a collapse in information transmission and that it had never been easier to obtain information but that this had left space for fake news.

"Social media provided an opportunity to increase hatred and influence the public opinion, and that is why it is important that we have a decisive fight against fake news," said Kemp.

Speaking about the problems the media faces, the daily Dan journalist Mirko Vesovic cited the poor socio-economic aspects, self-censorship, and the attacks on journalists, also adding that it made it increasingly difficult to motivate young people to pursue journalism. The editor-in-Chief of the daily Vijesti newspaper, Srdan Kosovic, said that, in Montenegro, if the media wants to be professional, you have to pay a high price.

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