Integrity and Authorship in Journalism in the Western Balkans

The twenty-first century was supposed to be a golden age for journalism, a time of more accurate, easily accessible, transparent, and communally connected in pursuit of the public interest. The best journalism today should be better than it has ever been, linking to original sources, open to comments and criticism from public, and engaged in an ongoing conversation and collaboration with a wider range of actors than ever before. What went wrong? We believe that the answer lies in bringing back integrity and authorship in journalism.

The aim of the project is recognizing that the freedom of expression is a crucial pillar of independent journalism, retelling professional journalists and traditional and new media consumers about the principles and practices of professional, ethical and responsible journalism that serves the public and support political participation and democratization of society.

The region of the Western Balkans faces, in the sense of media and facts, a lack of public space in politics and communality, with parallel public spheres which do not recognize each other. The populism is clearly visible in the language of common places and appropriation of the language of the democratic discourse by right-wingers, compressing the most words into the smallest idea, “and when the ideas fail, words are very handy” (Goethe). It sounds like a freedom of expression, just edited into defeat of the citizens and human rights. As a journalist you are expected to know the difference, with all the risks it takes.

The authorship represents a massive challenge for journalists, news professionals, policymakers, and media reform activists interested in shaping the future of the media. It will profoundly change not only journalism and the news industry, but also current democracy.

The power of the media is enormous, and the most amazing medium for creativity. Through an outreach campaign, we will examine how these engaged citizens and media professionals can improve the quality of information in the Western Balkans. These interactions will enhance better communication and improvement of the mainstream media programme. Through interdisciplinary workshops and training at the regional level, project aims to inspire journalists’ integrity and responsible editorship in the media in order to improve their content, adopt a discourse on respect of human rights, and abandon the practice of inflammatory and one-sided journalism. Through the production of quality news and research stories, the project aims at establishing high standards of quality in journalism in the Western Balkans. It will introduce the principles and practice of professional, ethical and responsible journalism serving the public good and supporting the democratization of society. Also, through our activities, we want to respond to the new context in society and requirements for media literacy, with the desire to increase demand for responsible media by promoting professional standards and international practices that protect freedom of expression and encourage a culture of critical thinking through education of the wider public about the harmful influence of media manipulations on democracy and European values.
We aim at increasing awareness of the impact of different forms of intolerance, the imprisoned or murdered journalists over the last years, corruption in media and contents subject to censorship, hate speech and the practice of inflammatory and one-sided journalism in particular among the general public, multipliers and community leaders, vulnerable groups and communities.

Authorship and integrity represent one of the great social and political issues of our time, that will profoundly change not only journalism and the news industry, but also current democracy.

Partners of the project are:

Hilma Unkić (editor and journalist / Bosnia and Herzegovina); Karolina Risto / Erida Shani / Beklie Koltraka (Qendra Media dhe Çështjet Shoqërore// Tirana / Albania); Ana Petruševa (BIRN Skopje / Macedonia); Aulonë Kadriu / Qendresa Kastrati, (Kosovo 2.0 Pristina / Kosovo); Milica Bogdanović (Center for Democratic Transition Podgorica / Montenegro).

The project is supported by the Human Rights Fund (2019-2021) / The Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Belgrade