MDI Supports Community Media in Serbia

Date: 24 September 2015

Country: Serbia

Local_Press_Conference_Belgrade‘In the future journalists will need civil society organisations (CSOs) more than the other way around!’ The prediction came from Iona Avadani, Executive Director of the Center for Independent Journalism, Bucharest, who was one of the speakers at the 20th Anniversary of LocalPress, a Serbian Community Media Association (SCMA).

Experts from the Balkans and the rest of Europe heard about the hardship more than 50 newspapers, radio and TV stations, members of the SCMA, have been through over the last two decades. Equally important, the LocalPress representatives talked about the lessons learnt, the most important being that ‘common interests and values have kept us together’.

‘Journalists need CSOs not only because of their importance as pillars of democracy through which citizens participate in public debates about the issues relevant to their communities.  They need CSOs as an alternative source of information and contacts for which some of the journalists are in search on a daily basis’, said Milica Pesic, Executive Director of MDI which through its Strengthening Media Freedom in Serbia supported the event.

‘Yet, no media are closer to civil society as a source of stories than the local media. That should be seen as an advantage because the times of striving to do journalism in capital cities as the only places worth being a journalist are over’.

Representatives of the media and CSOs attending the event used the opportunity to condemn the way some of the media reported on cross-boarder tensions between Serbia and Croatia, caused by the refugee crises.

‘It is unacceptable to use hate speech as if we are back in the ‘90s and the era of Milosevic’s Serbia. The leaders of the country need to clearly state that such discourse is intolerable in the society which is getting ready to join the EU and its values system’, said the organisers of the event in Belgrade in the joint statement.