In the post-election period, violation of ethical standards and use of manipulation techniques decreased in intensity compared with 2016. However, they did not totally disappear, and top violation was omission, the technique broadly used by journalists to avoid covering some events or including into news the details that disadvantage the owner of their media outlet or advantage their rivals. These are the main conclusions of the fourth monitoring report “Elements of Propaganda, Information Manipulation and Violation of Journalism Ethics in the Local Media Space” (December 1, 2016 – February 1, 2017), launched by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), a SEENPM member, on February 22, 2017.
In the period of December 1, 2016 – February 1, 2017, the IJC analyzed how 12 media outlets – news portals and TV channels – covered events of major public interest in the sphere of politics, economy, foreign policy, etc., namely, whether they abided by the journalistic standards of verifying information from several sources, pluralism of opinions, balance in conflicting news, etc.
According to Veronica Zaharia, media expert who prepared the report, “the majority of news stories published by the media tended to present some subjects in an exclusively positive light and to disadvantage others.” It was done in particular by means of selection of facts, omission, exaggeration, blurring of negative elements. Also, the monitoring showed that in the coverage of events of public interest some journalists sought not to provide full, balanced and unbiased information to the public, but to emphasize the merits of some politicians or denigrate others.
Elements of information manipulation were found especially in the newscasts of Publika TV, Prime TV, Accent TV, and in a lesser degree on Sputnik, Deschide.md, Pan.md and RTR. In this sense, the authors of the report recommend journalists to take into account the degree of public interest of each topic and its impact for society. Reporters are advised to start, when preparing news, from a neutral perspective, in order to correctly cover the reality and refrain from praising and exaggerating by various techniques the merits of some politicians and disregarding others. At the same time, media consumers are advised to seek information from several media sources, in order to avoid the risk of receiving wrong and manipulating information.
Media managers, in their turn, are encouraged to ask employees, or to train them, as the case may be, to abide by the rules of the Code of Ethics and by the existing quality standards in journalism, and the Broadcasting Coordinating Council is encouraged to monitor how broadcasters ensure pluralism of opinions and abide by the national laws and European regulations in broadcasting.
This report has been produced by the Independent Journalism Center as part of the media campaign against false and tendentious information STOP FALS!, conducted by the Association of Independent Press (AIP), the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and the VIP Association of Independent TV Journalists of Moldova (AITVJ).