Threats to the safety of journalists in Serbia: new report

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Source/Author: COE

Institutional pressures are a form of a threat that most journalists in Serbia often and regularly encounter in their work (46.2%), followed by economic pressures or job insecurity (40.2%). 29.9% of journalists often or regularly encounter the problem of targeting and smear campaigns, and 30.5% reported that they regularly or frequently face verbal threats. SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) were experienced frequently or regularly by 17.1% of journalists. In terms of digital violence, 39.2% of journalists have been victims. More than half of the journalists (53.8%) said they had been in a situation where they did not report on a topic or event one or more times because of the reassure, with women reporting higher instances.

The new Report on safety of journalists in Serbia, prepared with the support of the European Union and Council of Europe, aims to foster the development of relevant policies through identification of invisible pressures such as self-censorship, digital forms of violence and factors that lead to these negative occurrences. The research was conducted in co-operation with the Journalists Association of Serbia and the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia, with 130 journalists and media employees participating in the survey.

The Report aims at a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics between the safety of journalists, and the circumstances in which they perform their role in the media space of Serbia. In digital age, where freedom of expression remains fundamental, it is crucial to acknowledge that unseen pressures like self-censorship and digital violence exert a profound, yet often underestimated, influence on media freedom. Recognising and confronting these covert forces is vital for preserving the integrity of journalism and defending democratic values.

The Report was developed through the action “Protecting freedom of expression and of the media in Serbia (PROFREX)”, implemented by the Council of Europe’s Division for Co-operation on Freedom of Expression, which is part of the joint European Union and the Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye”.

 English language version

 Serbian language version

Source: COE