PODGORICA, 17.03.2022 – The bad socio-economic position of media workers was found for the first time in the official Government document in the draft Media Strategy for the period from 2022 to 2026, which was recently put up for public discussion.
This is the first strategic document that deals in more detail with the issue of media freedoms and the situation in the Montenegrin media.
In the analysis of the situation, the proposer refers to the research of the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (SMCG), which for years indicates that the position of media employees is extremely bad and that in addition to incomes below the national average it is characterized by unregulated overtime and work during the holidays, pressures, self-censorship and it was stated that the situation worsened during the crisis caused by corona pandemic.
“All this leads to the abandonment of the profession by a large number of journalists. Lack of employees leads to overburdening of journalists to meet the obligation of daily work and publish a large number of texts/articles every day, which ultimately affects the quality of journalism and almost shut down investigative efforts in newsrooms”, reads the document, which is on the public discussion until April 20.
The proposer encourages a new start to collective bargaining for the media industry, which was discontinued in 2019, and media employees do not currently have such protection.
The strategy introduces freelancers to the media system of Montenegro for the first time, noting their unregulated status, but does not envisage measures to resolve it.
The Strategy pays special attention to the issue of protection of the safety of journalists, introducing measures to control the work of state bodies who investigates the attacks. Also, one of the measures is the long-announced specialization of teams in the police and the prosecutor’s office that would deal with attacks on journalists.
The strategy further obliges media owners to protect journalists from interference in their work and all kinds of pressures, guarantee them healthy and safe working conditions, invest in their skills and knowledge, and promote the implementation of the Code of Ethics and professionalism in journalism.
In addition to increasing the amount for the Fund for Encouraging Pluralism and Media Diversity from the current 0.09 percent of the current budget to 0.4 percent by the end of the implementation of the Strategy, the SMCG proposed an obligation for employers not to lay off workers six months before the competition. At the same time, the strategy recognized the importance of monitoring the impact of financial support to the media on improving the socio-economic status of employees, in the monitoring of which SMCG will actively participate.
The strategy also envisages an amendment to the Law on Media, which would imply the obligation of the media to adopt a statute that will regulate the relationship between the owner and the editorial board. Also, the amendments to the law will improve and clarify the procedure for the protection of journalistic sources so that there is no undue pressure from the prosecution or the court.