THE SELECTION OF PERIŠA ČAKARUN IS ANOTHER NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF PROFESSIONALISM AND MEDIA FREEDOMS AT HRT

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Source/Author: CJA
Source/Photo: CJA

The branch of the Croatian Journalists’ Association at Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT) and the Branch of the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists at HRT warn of the non-transparent and unprofessional implementation of the selection procedure for the editor of the Informative Media Service (IMS) of HRT (according to the public tender from July 7, 2023) and express their dissatisfaction with the selection of Katarina Periša Čakarun for that function.

We can conclude from the process of implementing the tender for one of the key positions at Croatian Radiotelevision that it was made for one particular candidate. Namely, neither the public nor the employees know who is in the commission that conducted the competition, according to which methodology it was determined that the candidate meets certain conditions of the competition, it isn’t known why the conditions of the competition were changed compared to the previous one (from 2018), it isn’t known how many candidates applied for the competition, how many of them met the conditions of the competition, and finally, it isn’t clear from the Decision and explanation on the selection of Katarina Periša Čakarun why she is the only candidate who meets the required conditions of the competition.

It is important to warn the public that the elections for key positions at HRT are full of flaws and far from the level required by responsible behavior towards subscribers and the public. Candidates for the most important positions are asked for personal information and a brief explanation of the reasons for the application, without the obligation to present a plan and program of work that would show what the candidates are planning if they are elected.

The farce in the selection of program editors continues with the declaration of the creative staff, but only in an advisory capacity, so recently a person who received 67 votes out of 1377 employees who had the right to vote was elected to the position of editor-in-chief of Croatian Radio. For the appointment of the editor of IMS, a program that is responsible for professional and objective information of citizens, according to HRT’s rules, such a selection or statement by the employee is not necessary either.

We are talking about a candidate who until now worked as the editor of HRT’s IMS, and whose mandate began in 2016 with a “weekend” of unsuitable dismissals and was marked by scandals, omissions, the exodus of respected journalists and editors, public accusations of mobbing and cover-up of sexual harassment of female employees, the ultimate decline of professional standards, and finally final rulings on censorship, self-censorship and restriction of freedom of expression.

As the crown of such a mandate comes the Business and Development Strategy from 2022, one of the key documents of HRT, in which the Department of IMS, after analysis by expert bodies of HRT, received a rating of sufficient (2). In the assessment of the situation, it is stated that HTV’s information program does not enjoy sufficient trust among the public, and the citizens of the Republic of Croatia do not believe in its independence and impartiality, which was finally confirmed, as stated in the Strategy, by research conducted by HRT itself. The mentioned Strategy, in which special emphasis is placed on the return of relevance, was presented at the meeting of employees by the Director General of HRT, Robert Šveb.

Due to all of the above, we consider the re-election of Katarina Periša Čakarun to the position of a key person of IMS, in anticipation of the super-election year 2024, a continuation of the business and program policy that calls into question the respect for basic professional standards, journalistic freedoms, but also the right of the entire public to objective and credible information. Because of all of the above, we believe that this election, as well as the way it was conducted, is another nail in the coffin of professionalism, objectivity and media freedom in the public media broadcaster.

For the CJA Branch at HRT,

Gordana Škaljac Narančić, President of the Branch

For the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists Branch at HRT,

Maja Sever, president of the Commission