Media ownership transparency and journalists’ rights

SARAJEVO, 08.11.2018.-The situation in the media field in BiH has actually never been on a satisfactory level, as it cannot be considered satisfactory at present either, starting with journalists’ rights to media ownership transparency.

Many questions raised still are still to be answered, which in general outlines the poor review of media and freedom which in this field does not exist in reality. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) presented the 2018 press freedom barometer and Bosnia was on the 62nd place according to the index of media liberties/freedoms.

However, journalists are still deprived of rights, they have to work without legal contracts, and they are often threatened and have no access to information pursuant to legal and existing legal provisions. Law on media ownership transparency could contribute to an improvement of working, social and professional status of journalists.

Milan Kovac, BN Radio and TV house (local TV and Radio station) journalist, who works at the informative and news desk, reckons that this legal provision “would not immediately initiate, but it would eventually instigate the settling of chaotic situation in the media field in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would look from long-term perspective result in better and improved status of journalists and media staff in general”. The fact is that the ever-growing number of local websites is increasing and that the audience is not even familiar with the professional organization, functioning, ethics codes and professional standards of journalists’ reports.

Dragana Trninic, Head of Department of Journalism and Communication Studies with the Faculty of Political Studies in Banjaluka, claims that “the audience is always eager to discover and find out new information and new contents that they find interesting and very few people pay attention to impressum of website through which they receive information and the source they use to get certain information. This is a consequence of general media illiteracy. Audience considered as media literate group shall not lose trust in media that have their impressum, because some other media houses do not have it posted on their website pages; instead, this will represent one of the most important criteria for them in choosing media house they prefer.

The occurrence of media websites without impressum can be changed through media regulation and media literacy assessment for the audience that would eventually, by the gradual development competencies, avoid this kind of media houses”. Furthermore, the practice of copying and sharing the contents from certain websites; websites without impressum results in the emerging of false and incorrect information.

Andrijana Pisarevic, editor and vice – president of Media Union (Syndicate) and Graphic Artists of RS emphasized: ”We have seen such case recently on RTRS. RTRS shared biased information from the particular website (also without impressum) claiming that British and American Services intensify their work with the purpose of destabilizing the official government in the Republic of Srpska. These kinds of cases do not emerge accidentally; they rather appear intentionally and deliberately. Therefore, if someone working for the Public RTV Broadcasting Service is doing this, what or who can stop the others to do the same thing and follow the same path? The principle includes the following: present a website without impressum and it will serve to mislay the traces. You could afterward post unchecked information without author’s signature, statements or verifying.

Additionally, you should “share” same information on your website referring to the “source”, even though the responsible people for posting such information, regardless whether they are true or false information actually do not exist in reality”. Media illiterate audience, do not only fail to pay attention to impressum (with many of them not even knowing the meaning of this word), but they also do not pay attention to the author of the text/article they view or read.

Brankica Spasenic, a female journalist believes that the audience is mostly focused on the content itself. “Our public is still mostly biased towards old-fashioned and traditional media sources. In this sense, they sometimes “bound or tie” with particular TV figure, so, therefore, they believe to everything that this figure states and says in public, rather than relying on other sources. As far as texts and articles are concerned, I doubt that concrete full name beneath the text/article they view or read, means anything to them”, said Spasenic.

Approximate information, regarding the number of journalists that are deprived of legal rights by their employers (as far as legal and obligatory duties are concerned), shall remain unknown. We also do not know whether media houses work and operate according to legal law provisions, whether they pay contributions, what the number of journalists working illegally is in reality and other associated facts. Legal inspection officials should take care of these issues, so journalists could; as a result, perform their professional work in a much better and more appropriate way.

This text is a part of E-Bulletin– seventh edition of special serial of BHN online bulletin implemented through the “Media and Public Reputation” (origin. “Mediji i javni ugled”) project, also representing a contribution to public debate regarding the transparency of media ownership and upholding and encouraging the passing of set of laws aimed to advance media field and information market in BiH.

Brankica Smiljanić, BHN Bulletin E-journalist, Sarajevo, 08/11/2018