Coalition for Media Freedom: “Informer” Violated the Serbian Journalists’ Code of Ethics

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The Coalition for Media Freedom strongly condemns the decision of the “Informer” daily to publish an interview with the convicted serial rapist Igor Milosevic, recently released from prison. The problem is the way in which the interview was conducted where Milosevic describes how he committed various criminal acts and how he felt at the time.

The Coalition is of the opinion that “Informer” breached the Serbian Journalists’ Code of Ethics with the interview because giving media space to a rapist in this way is inadmissible and there is no public interest that can be justified by this approach. The coalition stresses the importance of  the Code of Ethics which states that business, political and private interests of publishers and owners must not be an excuse or justification for breaching the Code. TheCode of Ethics obliges the media to be objective and to take into account the credibility of sources and  far-reaching consequences of spoken and written words. The Journalists’ Code of Ethics, social responsibility and basic empathy require from us to stand in solidarity with the victims and to protect and respect their rights and dignity.

A journalist must never abuse the emotions of others, their ignorance or lack of judgment, which is the case here. Even more so considering that the source of information in this case was apparently not aware of the power of the media and the consequences that his statements could have on the people he talked about, as well as on himself. Conscious abuse of the source is incompatible with journalistic professionalism, and so is carelessness, the possible consequence of which could be the abuse of source.

The Coalition also believes that the interview retraumatized women, primarily those who survived the source’s violence, but also all women who experienced anyform of sexual violence.

The Coalition also points out that Milosevic was released without an adequate resocialization program, which triggered fear among citizens who publish pictures of his whereabouts that certain media republishwhich is in violation of the Personal Data Protection Law.

The coalition calls on the Ministry of Culture and Information, responsible for the implementation of the Law on Public Information and Media, to use its powers in view of  the disputed interview violating Article 79, paragraph 3 of the Law.

On this occasion, we invite all the media to respect the Serbian Journalists’ Code of Ethics, as well as the right to privacy, in this and all other situations.

The Coalition for Media Freedom consists of the Association of Media, the Association of Online Media (AOM), the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Business Association of the Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation.