Strengthening local media in the focus of the project “Free media, free society”

SARAJEVO, 24.06.2019. – An analysis of the existing legislative framework, new standards of fair, objective and diverse information in local communities, as well as the greater linkage of journalists across Bosnia and Herzegovina are some of the goals of the “Free Media, Free Society” project, which is presented in Sarajevo today with the participation of over 50 representatives of civil society organizations, the media, the local government and the academic community.

Through this project, the BH Journalists Association (BHJA) and the Association of Electronic Media in BiH want to draw attention to the political, financial and institutional pressure on the media, which have resulted in serious violations of the right to freedom of information and freedom of expression in local communities.

Such political strategies and manipulations have led to a decline in the quality of media content and media objectivity in local communities, which is in direct contradiction with EU standards related to media work in the public interest and to the benefit of all citizens in the community.

Vladimir Pandurevic, the program manager of the European Union Delegation in BiH, during the introductory presentation stressed that without a strong civil society, there will be no entry into negotiations with the European Union, especially in the field of human rights.

“I’m glad we have full support from Brussels because they understand why we can not take the next steps without civil society. Government institutions need to know what is happening in civil society, “said Pandurevic.

The mayor of Sarajevo, Abdulah Skaka, spoke about the importance of cooperation between civil society, media and institutions in promoting the european values ​​of freedom of media protection, but also about responsible and impartial journalism. On this occasion, he pointed to the ever-increasing problem of online portals without any accurate data on ownership, which greatly undermined the credibility of responsible and professional media.

“We need to protect the reference media because without their high quality and responsible work, work of politicians either cannot be clearly recognized. It is precisely because of this that it is very important to work on empowering the media in local communities, in order to get as accurate and objective information as possible”, Skaka emphasized.

General secretary of BHJA Borka Rudic has spoken about growing problems faced by journalists in BiH: censorship, pressure on editors, unlawful appointments, violation of labor and social rights of media professionals.

“Journalists and local media editors are not strong enough to contradict these trends themselves, and the legislation is broadly set and does not guarantee the prevention of political and other influences on the work of local media. That is why we want to bring together with the financial support of the European Union a local media community throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and network them into a strong professional group that will strengthen investigative journalism in local media and improve the quality and diversity of media content”, says Rudic.

She added that the design of the Interactive Media Exchange Center is planned, which will serve as a tool to advocate the independence and integrity of vulnerable journalists.

The chairman of the Association of Electronic Media and Hayat TV director Elvir Svrakic stressed that one of the project’s advantages is that he is not only focused on the media but on multisectoral cooperation between civil society organizations, local authorities, citizens and media who can jointly fulfill the conditions for EU access integration.

“We will try to share quality information with all the local media, where we will focus not on increasing the number of media content but on their quality, and strengthening responsible and professional reporting in local communities,” said Svrakic.

At today’s meeting, a comprehensive, interactive platform – was presented. It presents all the programs and projects currently being implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina, funded by the European Union. The web platform will promote european values, inform BiH citizens about the process of EU integration and monitor the progress and harmonization of domestic with the European Union legislation through several different sectors.
BHN, Sarajevo, 24/06/2019

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