The media should be careful when reporting on cases of violent extremism and ethno-nationalism, as these are problems that directly threaten democratic values and the civic concept of society.
It was commissioned at the workshop entitled “Media in the Prevention and Suppression of Violent Extremism”, organised by the Youth and Non-Formal Education Forum (MNE), as part of a three-year project, “Community First”: Creating a HUB for Civil Society Organizations address the issue of violent extremism – from prevention to reintegration.
Project coordinator for the MNE Forum, Jelena Fustic, said the Forum is a three-year project implemented in partnership with the Albanian Centre for Legal Civic Initiatives, the Hope Organisation and Children’s Homes of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Kosovo Centre for Conflict Management, the Macedonian Centre for Common Ground and DamaD Cultural Centre from Serbia, with financial support from the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration.
According to her, the goal of the project is capacity building, empowering the civilian sector, as social actors, when it comes to preventing violent extremism. She announced that there will be four more training sessions under the projects. We will work with teachers and youth activists, Fustic said.
The issue of preventing violent extremism and radicalization at the state level is addressed by the National Operational Team, which consists of 22 representatives of institutions and non-governmental organizations. They have defined in the National Platform for the Suppression of Violent Extremism and Radicalisation Leading to Terrorism that generally violent extremism refers to violence that is justified or associated with extreme religious or political ideology.
All segments of Montenegrin society should become involved in creating resistance to this phenomenon. It was evaluated on this platform that achieving this goal is possible through the implementation of a comprehensive and integrated social response based on partnerships between competent authorities at central and local level, civil society, religious communities, academic community, media and citizens.
A 35-millimeter NGO spokeswoman, Kristina Cetkovic, said that they, with the news agency MINA and the Nomen NGO, had implemented the project “We Deal with Ethics and Fake News”.
According to her, while working with young people in nine cities in Montenegro, they noticed that they were easier to spot fake news at workshops than in theory, when they were only told about them. Not all fake news is obvious, some are well-packed and hard to spot, Cetkovic said. She said that fake news and propaganda are the plague of the 21st century. She explained that in the Journalism Practice study, they dealt with data journalism, fake news and the Journalist Code.
According to her, the study showed that journalists to varying degrees want to engage in data journalism, but that there are numerous obstacles to doing so. Lack of resources, adequate knowledge and time are obvious obstacles to dealing with journalism, Cetkovic said.
As she said, 62 percent of respondents believe that their media has no plans for dealing with data journalism, which she finds devastating. She explained that data journalism is based on data and facts. So, if you are interested in a topic and want to examine it, you will inquire and go to the relevant institutions to obtain accurate information. Then process that information and present it in a visual way. Today, it comes down to taking a statement from one side or the other and putting it into the text, Cetkovic said.
However, as she said, in some newsrooms they have never heard of this journalism, and then it is hard to expect that such can teach you something, Cetkovic believes. The survey found that those involved in data journalism say they do it because it is in the public interest.
According to the study, 96 percent of respondents know what fake news is. 98 percent think they are a problem for Montenegro, and 88 percent think that journalists are the ones who have to do the most to prevent such news from being published and spread, Cetkovic said.
She added that it is devastating that there is no investigative journalism in Montenegro, it is devastating for both society and the journalists themselves, Cetkovic said.
Talking about the Journalist Code, 60 percent of the study respondents are fully aware, and 94 percent believe it is necessary in their daily work
Milica Bogdanovic from the NGO Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT) said that a year ago, the Raskrinkavanje.me platform published its first analysis of media coverage.
Since then, they said, they have analysed numerous publications in the field of international politics. According to her, regardless of her editorial stance, the media is vulnerable to propaganda policy.
Because journalists often do not recognize propaganda pamphlets that are masked in news reports, but publish or transmit them, thus further contributing to their organised dissemination, Bogdanovic said.
She said that they noticed that the media chose how they convey information about a particular situation or topic, which is not necessarily incorrect but leads to the creation of established narratives on those topics. Such narratives are expanded on a daily basis and aim to direct the conclusions of the media content consumer in a specific direction that is consistent with the ideological commitment of those who create or order the content, Bogdanovic said.
She said that everyone must be aware of what the tabloid news is.
In addition to the need to involve state institutions, civil society and the media in combating the spread of misinformation, by raising the professional standard, individual responsibility of each individual who must critically look at the information provided by the media is important, said Bogdanovic.
An individual needs to recognise the truth himself, to take care of what is being marketed to him, not to disseminate information that he is not sure are accurate and which have not been verified or to doubt it, Bogdanovic said.
As she said, they noticed numerous media narratives that they will deal with in a more extensive and detailed way in the coming period. It is a narrative of the so-called Greater Albania, which accompanies the constant spread of fear of the formation of this alleged country and a frightening hatred of the Albanian people, said Bogdanovic.
She added that during the recent voting procedure for the Life Partnership Act, the narrative intensified that the regulation would endanger traditional family relationships.
The information that made up that narrative inaccurately portrayed the content of the proposed regulation, often including hate speech against the LGBT population, Bogdanovic pointed out.
She added that the narrative of returnees from Syria, the so-called jihadists who would wage bloody conflicts in the Balkans, was expanding in the domestic and regional online space, as well as the narrative of all-powerful Russian weapons used for justified purposes, Bogdanovic concluded.