Journalists from SEENPM Countries Develop Ethical Guidelines for Online Media

June 25, 2008, Sarajevo – “A unique experiment has begun in Sarajevo that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Eighteen media professionals from eleven South East and Central European countries are putting together a set of editorial guidelines on how navigate the complex ethical issues presented by online journalism” – stated GoranTodorovic, the manager of journalism training programs after a trainer training workshop was conducted at the Mediacentar in Sarajevo on June 23-25, 2008.

With the guidance of course leader David Brewer, internationally recognized expert in online media, participants from Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary,  Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina covered issues such as accuracy, fairness, privacy, consent, taste and decency, offence, impartiality, integrity, independence, and diversity.

The workshop was the initial event of an eight-month blended-learning program aimed at equipping eighteen media professionals with extensive knowledge and skills to become leaders in the field of journalistic ethics in online media and trainers of Internet ethics for journalists. After returning to their countries the participants continue to work on the guidelines using a specially developed open-source distance-learning tool. Each month they have online consultations with the course leader trainer and complete specific assignments.

A follow up face-to-face session will be held in Sarajevo towards the end of the year when the team will finalize the guidelines to be published online and in hard copy. “It was a brave experiment to bring so many journalists from such different backgrounds and expect them to work together, – added Todorovic. I was astonished how professionally they treated the task and how quickly they bonded, not only as colleagues, but also as friends. This is going to be a unique collaborative process and the outcome will be extremely valuable to journalists throughout the region.”

The project is funded by the Open Society Institute Network Media Program and implemented jointly by the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media and Mediacentar Sarajevo. Course leader, David Brewer, who delivers media training on every continent, said that the quality of the group was stunning. “I had no idea that I would be working with such a highly-motivated group of solid, passionate, knowledgeable journalists. The selection process carried out by the Mediacentar Sarajevo and SEENPM was key. They brought together some of the best journalists I have ever worked with.”