NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro organized a panel discussion “Reporting on corruption to Montenegro” on June 10 in the Youth Center in Podgorica, within the project “The Plan of Detecting, Deterring and Reporting Corruption”.
The event, which is a part of the project created by the European Youth Press (EYP) and funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe in the participating countries: Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia , Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, Ukraine and Montenegro, was opened by Milica Zugic, the president of the organization.
Local events will be organized in each of the participating countries with the aim of researching national and local corruption issues, empowering young journalists to fight corruption and to report profesinally on this issue, and sharing experiences and best practices and improving public capacity to fight corruption on the local, national and European level. Local events are essential, as local insights will add to the wider picture of corruption in Europe and provide a forum of key stakeholders involved in the prevention and fight against corruption. It will add a national and local dimension to the discussion of corruption and enable its participants to understand how corruption can be pervasive and how it affects everyone in everyday life. It will also inspire people to take action against corruption on a daily basis. Long-term strategy for deterrence and reporting corruption can not exist without deepening and detailed insight into their specificity and sensitivity to local contexts.
Milica Zugic introduced those present with the project, which is composed of three parts: The first part included the training in Antwerp (Belgium), which was held in March and lasted two days, the second part was presented today at a panel discussion and the third part will be organized in Vilnius (Lithuania).
“In Belgium, we drafted the manual and we learned about the reporting of corruption, how this kind of reporting is done, how to find sources, how to protect ourselves online and how to present gathered information,” said project participant Ivana Sreckovic.
She added that the other main product of the project is ACRP or platform on which one can find the manuel, blog, videos, data and statistics on corruption, calendar of events and forums and the interactive map.
Among the panelists were also journalists Vladimir Otasevic from the Network for Research of organized crime and corruption – Magnifier and Marko Vešović, a journalist of the daily newspappers “Dan”. They presented the idea of investigative journalism, as well as the obstacles they face in Montenegro as investigative journalists.
Vlado Otašević said that, owing to numerous obstacles, journalists rarely decide to engage in investigative journalism.
“Investigative journalism is a risky business which carries great responsibility.First of all, safety of the reporters is compromised. We all know about the attack on journalist Tufik Softic. This attack is still unclarified. He even went to the court of Strasbourg and sued the state od Montenegro. We also must not forget the murder of Dusko Jovanovic. Additionally, investigative journalism is poorly paid, so the young people are not motivated to get engaged in this kind of business, “said Otasevic.
Vešović agreed with this, and added that one of the main reasons why so few people are engaged in investigative journalism is of political nature, considernig that Montenegro did not change the government since the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also noted the lack of transparency of certain institutions as one of the problems.
“Today it is difficult to obtain confidential data, even for the police, let alone the journalists, because this kind of information is often behind veil of secrecy,” said Vešović.
He explained that even when you write an investigative story you still can hardly prove that it is completely accurate, because you don’t have access to the information, except for those that are on the Internet.
“The job of journalists is not to destroy someone’s privacy or misuse personal data but rather the opposite. Currently, the journalism in our country is very badly positioned, because journalists are exposed to numerous risks, and fees they receive are very small and disproportionate with level of responsibility involved ” said Vešović.
When asked about the problems they faced when dealing with investigative journalism, he answered that he had no significant threat to security, but he faced with numerous lawsuits.
“At one point, the value of all court proceedings against me was over 120,000 euros,” said the journalist the journalist of DAN.
Panelists pointed out “Telekom” affair “Video” affair, “Who smoked at the expense of the state” affair, in which they discovered various elements of corruption. Otašević said that investigative journalists are not the police nor can thez prosecute anyone. Their job instead is to uncover the truth. As a good example, he mentioned articles on corruption in Budva that led to the trial of the individuals involved in this case.
When asked in which areas corruption is most present in Montenegro and about the situation in the region, the panelists agreed that corruption is most evident in politics, construction and healthcare sector. Situation in the region isn’t much better, and in some countries it’s even worse.
When asked why they practice investigative journalism in spite of so many obstacles, Vešović and Otašević answered that after all it is interesting and socially responsible job, and to to deal with that kind of work one needs curiosity, perseverance, courage and desire to fight against injustice.
President of the Mladiinfo Montenegro reminded those present that pne place for the training in Vilnius is still vacant, so that interested candidates can contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A candidate is obliged to send a CV and a short video relating corruption, or video about their own experience of corruption.
Mladiinfo Montenegro is a member of the European Youth Press, an organization aiming to build a society in which young journalists make contribution to the development by creating independent and responsible media and by encouraging the development of democracy, international development and sustainable future.