EU to continue to support capacity building in investigative journalism

Podgorica, 21 February - The EU will continue to support investigative journalism in Montenegro, it was announced at the conference “Investigative Journalism and the Ethical Code: Challenges and How to Achieve Professional Standards” organised by the Montenegrin Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIN).

The Head of the Political, European Integration and Trade Section at the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Plamena Halacheva, said that it is no secret that the print journalism industry is in trouble, that the media is cutting down on fact-checking and investigative journalism, and that even the EU is no exception to this trend.

“This new reality obliges us all to rethink the way we conceive traditional and new media: it obliges traditional media to embrace the methods of new media, notably in terms of transparency, immediacy and interactivity, and obliges new media to adopt the best practices of traditional ones, including in terms of accuracy, professional standards and high-impact investigative journalism,” said Halacheva.

She reminded that the recently adopted Western Balkan Strategy showed that the candidate countries have still not fulfilled all the necessary conditions for media freedom. That is why the European Commission is putting forward comprehensive proposals to strengthen independent media companies in the region by providing training for young and mid-career journalists and all sorts of other activities.

“Locally, we have been proudly funding the Centre for Investigative Journalism and this has resulted in some great articles in the Montenegrin media and also foreign media. The story on selective abortion based on illegal gender tests, for instance; or the article on marine heritage which requires further protection. The EU has also been funding investigative capacities in the public broadcaster RTCG and will continue to do so. The same goes for an investigative journalism project with MANS, which will further train journalists in their investigative capacities,” said Halacheva.

The Minister of Justice, Zoran Pažin, assessed that self-regulation is a good instrument in building a democratic culture and freedom of the media.

“To the extent that the media itself strives for joint self-regulation, it will have the support of the government, which will not spare resources, nor the efforts, to make the concept of media self-regulation economically sustainable, without interfering with the independence of the media,” said Pažin.

The director of CIN, Milka Tadic Mijovic, said that media freedom is one of the country’s top priorities and added that Montenegro must improve its legislative framework regarding the media. She listed continuous pressure on the media, attacks on journalists, financial pressure and brutal campaigns against those who are investigating abuse of power as main reasons for the poor media situation in the country.

“Investigate for ME and EU” is an EU-funded project under the Media Professionalism programme, implemented by the Montenegrin Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIN)and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN)