The objective of this analysis is to provide institutions, civil society organizations, the media community and citizens with a better insight into the types and classification of media and communication practices through the content of which hate speech, disinformation and propaganda are spread, as well as to provide the public with a credible analysis, to serve as the basis for further activities of the SEENPM in building society’s resilience to such phenomena.
This publication was produced within Resilience: Civil Society for Media Free of Hate and Disinformation, a regional project financially supported by the European Union and implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey by a consortium of media development organizations led by SEENPM. It is part of a series of publications on the same general topic researched in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey (all publications are available on the SEENPM website).
The study came up with the following conclusions:
Political, economic and social circumstances in Montenegro, as well as complicated and complex relations with certain countries in the region, are reflected in the media environment and communication practices in the country.
Along with outdated regulations, the absence of proper self-regulation and an unregulated market, an increasing trend of offensive speech in the public space, which frequently escalates into hate speech, spread of disinformation and propaganda is also evident in Montenegro. There is an increasing trend of offensive speech in the public space, which frequently escalates into hate speech, propagation of disinformation and propaganda.
Such content is created and released via several channels:
- media operating in the countries of the region, with readership in Montenegro and which spread hate speech, disinformation and propaganda, with certain online media in Montenegro republishing their content, thus contributing to a widespread presence of unprofessional media content;
- certain rightwing online media, established/edited by individuals known as anti-NATO activists associated with opposition parties. Their sources of funding are not publicly known which makes it impossible to establish the connection between the content they release and sources of funding;
- pages on social networks that continuously spread offensive speech and hate speech against Montenegrin public figures, for which it is unknown what organizations/structures are behind them and who funds them.
Having in mind that regional media that publish disinformation, hate speech and propaganda, as well as rightwing Montenegrin media, are among the most followed online media in Montenegro and that these types of media and communication practices intensify the releasing of unprofessional content in times of political and social crises, their influence on shaping public opinion is very significant.
On the other hand, there is almost no open spreading of hate speech in the established Montenegrin media. However, the comments sections of the online media, established to open up towards the broadest readership and achieve commercial success, are becoming a space for spreading hate speech, conspiracy theories and disinformation by anonymous readers.
Based on the volume of information published daily by the Montenegrin media and regional media with readership in Montenegro, it can be concluded that the deliberate creation and spreading of disinformation is not common practice for the established Montenegrin media. Such situations occur as occasional incidents and cannot be considered deliberate spreading of false narratives.
However, the findings and analysis used in this study and interviews with relevant media figures conducted by the team of authors for this study indicate that adherence to professional standards in the established media is in decline. This becomes especially apparent in times of political and social crisis. An additional complication is that the attainment of high professional standards is not on the list of priorities for advertisers when choosing in which media outlet to advertise.
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Funded by the European Union
The regional program ‘RESILIENCE: Civil society action to reaffirm media freedom and counter disinformation and hateful propaganda in Western Balkans and Turkey’ is implemented with the financial support of the European Union by partner organizations SEENPM, Albanian Media Institute, Mediacentar Sarajevo, Kosovo 2.0, Montenegrin Media Institute, Macedonian Institute for Media, Novi Sad School of Journalism, Peace Institute and Bianet.
This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of SEENPM and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.