President of Croatian Journalists’ Association Resigns


Saša Leković , president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND), resigned yesterday after refusing to revoke a decision of HND to award a reporter accused of biased coverage of Bosnian Croat military chief Slobodan Praljak’s war crimes conviction.

The resignation came after after 11 out of 16 journalists awarded by the Association returned their awards in protest against the decision to give this year’s award for TV journalism to Ivana Petrović of Nova TV for her coverage, deemed biased, of the General Slobodan Praljak’s suicide in the [courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the] Hague during his verdict reading.

The jury stated that the decision on the annual award to Ivana Petrović was reached in a legitimate procedure, by a majority of votes, and that HND is obliged to respect it.

Leković refused to influence or pressure the jury to revoke its decision despite not personally agreeing that Petrovic should have won the award, Balkan Insight reports.

“Juries must have the autonomy prescribed to them, and it must not be distorted because we do not like the decision, no matter how much personal discomfort this situation caused,” Lekovic said in a press release.

He added that it would be “hypocritical” to countermand jury to present the Journalists’ Association in “a better light”.

The awarded journalists [who returned their awards] in an earlier joint statement said that [in Petrović’s case] the award was given for a report lacking basic journalistic elements.

Leaving aside, as they stated, the style of the journalist or her right to an emotional approach [to reporting], they protest the fact that a professional association awarded “an arbitrary and formally incorrect report” as an example of excellence.

They also state that reporting „which morphed into commentary, almost incitement to hatred of a neighbouring ethnic group, is not and should not be journalism“.

The journalists said they expected HND to dispute the jury decision on the award to Petrović and improve the award selection rules.

The awards were returned by Ivan Kralj, Drago Pilsel, Zinka Bardić , Ernest Marinković, Boris Pavelić, Ana Benačić, Hrvoje Šimičević, Ljubica Letinić, Ivica Grčar, Vojislav Mažočo and Jerko Bakotin.

Drago Pilsel said that he would try to procedurally dispute the award by starting a procedure against Ivana Petrović before the HND’s Ethical Council.

The rulebook on awards states that a person sanctioned by the Ethical Council may not receive an award, and Pilsel said that in this case there is the issue of retroactivity.

Pilsel will also request from the HND’s executive board to analyze Petrović’s awarded reporting from the Hague, as well as her nomination for the award itself, and consider whether there are arguments to procedurally dispute the award. The main issue, according to Pilsel, is whether the awarded work of Ivana Petrović can be considered an example of excellence.

The article was updated on 16 May 2018 and differs from the originally promoted version. 

 Major part of the article was translated from