Accountability systems

Although institutional framework is in place and the issue of improving self-regulation of journalistic profession has been high on the agenda in debates about media for almost two decades, the level of accountability in Serbian media is low.

Savet za stampu is a self-regulatory body that has been established in 2009 for monitoring the observance of Kodeks novinara Srbije (the Journalist’s Code of Ethics), solving complaints made by individuals and institutions related to media content. The Press Council also has a mediating role in cases of conflicts.

A Code of Ethics of Serbian Journalists was drafted in 2006 and adopted in 2009 by both NUNS and UNS. This gave the green light to the introduction of media self-regulation in Serbia. Following this adoption, the major Serbian media organisations established Savet za stampu (Press Council).

However, the code is ignored on a daily basis. Monitoring data produced by the Savet za stampu shows that from March to November 2017 eight daily papers breached the ethical code in almost 5,300 texts. The number of breaches of the code is growing in the last three years: 2,962 in 2015, 4,402 in 2016, 4,717 in 2017.

Representatives from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) visited Serbia in January 2018 after concerns about the state of media freedom in Serbia. In the statement following the visit they encouraged all media outlets and journalists to join Serbia’s journalism ethical code and to respect the self-regulatory body, the Press Council including the Council’s Complaints Commission, and to publish the Council’s decisions in accordance with its regulations.

AOM adopted its internal Code of Conduct in 2017. This Code supplements the existing Serbian Journalists Code of Conduct, adding the solutions applicable specifically in online media.

In December 2017 investigative portal KRIK launched project Raskrikavanje which works on debunking fake news and showcasing media propaganda, as well as analysing and exposing media finances, ownership structure and state aid they receive.