“Media integrity matters – Reclaiming public service values in media and journalism” is a book published in May 2014 comprising research reports of the SEE Media Observatory, a project implemented by a group of SEENPM members since 2013, which stands for media integrity and journalism that serves public interest.
Five countries were covered by the research presented in the book: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia.
Conducted between July 2013 and February 2014, the research is an attempt to address obstacles to a democratic development of media systems in the countries of South East Europe by mapping patterns of corrupt relations and practices in media policy development, media ownership and financing, public service broadcasting, and journalism as a profession. It introduces the concept of media integrity to denote public service values in media and journalism.
The reports in this book and effort invested in their preparation and presentation rest on the belief that media integrity matters. Public service values in media and journalism are endangered and therefore need to be monitored and protected.
As indicated in the report “Media integrity matters”, the obstructions and disrespect for public interest in the media in the countries of South East Europe are result of corrupt relations and practices that are integrated in their media systems. These corrupt relations and practices, including political clientelism, have been evolving and interplaying to the point of becoming a system on its own.
Patterns of corrupt, clientelistic relations and practices can be followed in various parts of the media systems – how media policy and media laws are developed and how their implementation is obstructed by undermining independence of media regulators, how media ownership and media finances are hidden from public and abused for particular private and political interests, how public service broadcasters are destabilized and captured by particular interests through governing and financing patterns, how journalists are professionally and economically degraded and disabled from being public service operators etc.
Researchers see these problems as interconnected and fused into a corrupt system which is major problem of media and democracy in these countries, and as such has to be addressed in a systematic way.
They claim a burning need to systematically elaborate, develop and defend those qualities of media systems in the countries of South East Europe which put media and journalism in the service of public. Shortly – to defend media integrity. (Read more on media integrity on the SEE Media Observatory website)
This book and the project South East European Media Observatory build on the legacy of previous research and advocacy actions of the SEENPM, especially the 2003/2004 research and book on media ownership and its impact on media independence and pluralism. In fact, the present media integrity research has been an elaboration of the situation “ten years after.” Some of the researchers have been involved in both.
The following centers and country researchers contributed to the research presented in the book:
The research was led and coordinated by the team at the Peace Institute in Ljubljana consisting of Brankica Petković as a lead researcher, and Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc and Maja Ladić as research assistants.
The project advisory board assisted in drafting and implementation of the research by reviewing the methodology and sections of the research reports. The board included Sandra B. Hrvatin, University of Primorska, Slovenia, Dušan Reljić, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Germany, and Aidan White of Ethical Journalism Network. Sandra B. Hrvatin also participated in both research workshops and significantly contributed to the theoretical and comparative overview.
With this research and the book, the South East European Media Observatory moves closer to its goal of providing a regional instrument for media research and monitoring, and a regional framework for debates, consultations and coalitions among key actors, seeking to inform and influence media reform processes.