(European Commission, October 2017 – March 2018)
The project „Mission Defence: using activism and legal possibilities to resist the pressures on the media“ is dedicated to empowerment of journalists from Vojvodina, working in media that are financially dependent on state many, and therefore at the risk of pressure on editorial policy.
The media outlets that are directly dependent on state funds are in a particularly delicate position, and those are not just public service broadcasting (Radio-Television of Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina), but also a large number of local media that could not survive without money being allocated through state-funded media projects. Media financially dependent on the state cannot be free, which is clearly shown in the case of Radio Television of Vojvodina. After the provincial elections in 2016, a large number of changes took place on the RTV, at the editorial, journalistic, program and financial levels.
Similarly, there is a whole series of local media outlets in Vojvodina which are sold to people close to the ruling parties in the last round of privatization in 2015 (Research of the Novi Sad School of Journalism, link), or are financially dependent on the budget funds, which are being allocated through state-funded media projects. This process is usually very non-transparent and shaped to fit the needs of the ruling party. Local media journalists usually have two possibilities: to become a local media service of the ruling party (which increases their chances of getting funds through public calls), or to report objectively, risking their own financial sustainability. They are exposed to pressures and censorship in a similar way as journalists working in PSB, but, in small communities, their ability to resist these pressures or to find a new job is even less.
This project will analyse the forms and strength of pressure on those media from Vojvodina (local and public service broadcasting) which are mainly financed by state funds, but it will also raise the awareness of journalists and general public about potential ways of using legal possibilities and activism do resist these pressures. Novi Sad School of Journalism is implementing this project in cooperation with the “Podrži RTV” movement.
This project is funded by the European Union through the small grants programme “Protecting Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Western Balkans” implemented by the Croatian Journalists’ Association as part of the regional project Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, carried out through partnership of six regional journalists’ associations – Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS), Association of BH Journalists (BHJ), Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK), Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (TUMM).
Project coordinator: Stefan Janjić, email@example.com