Ethical reporting in conflict situations, the media are required to avoid hate speech

Ethical reporting in conflict situations, the media are required to avoid hate speech

The issue of ethical reporting in conflict situations was addressed at the Balkan Leadership Conference on “Peace, Security and Development in the Western Balkans” chaired by KosovaPress News Agency, and the Association of the Balkan News Agencies – Southeast Europe (ABNA).

The head of the Universal Peace Federation, Peter Zoeher, said that the image of the media has fallen in the eyes of the public, and according to him, work must be done in order to restore accurate and free media.

“In the eyes of the public, the image of the media has fallen in the last 15 to 20 years, not only in the Western region but also in Western Europe and in America itself. For example, in Austria, a few years ago when I started, I was a member of the Association, and I was proud every time I carried the name, now I hide it, this indicates that the image has changed or faded in recent years. The image has changed or faded in recent years, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves, and only we can restore that good image in the coming years, only we can ensure that the media is accurate, responsible and free again. It is the mandate of IMAP to help and support you in this effort, we must do this, help in this effort, we are together in this, to help journalists for a peaceful and better world”, he said.

Discussing ethical reporting in conflict situations, Washington Times chairman Tom McDevitt spoke about the many challenges people are facing in recent years and the role that journalists play in these events around the world.

“We have multidimensional challenges, we have COVID-19 that has brought a lot of suffering all over the world, social norms have been broken, damaged, we have other reasons because the world is expanding with many problems, and how we see these problems is extremely important, it is vital that we as journalists see where that essence lies, what are the indicators that lead to these changes, especially if we want to report the news accurately, responsibly and freely”, he said.

According to him, work should be done in order to create a phenomenon in the Balkans that would have an impact on the world media industry.

Meanwhile, Skënder Krasniqi, president of the Association of the Balkan News Agencies – Southeast Europe, said that the media should avoid inciting conflict and serve only the truth.

“We as the media, as a profession and as a mission, must avoid inciting conflict, hatred and enmity, using a language as neutral as possible, i.e., not emotionally charged, and we can serve the truth and not create other bitter truths. Our task as the media in a conflict is to cover and report independently on the event, thus informing the local and foreign public, increasing transparency on that conflict, in order for the public not to depend only on official information. The murder of journalists is a murder of the truth, which unfortunately, even now that we are talking about, is happening not far from where we are. In this regard, and trying to contribute to peace and not violence, in the framework of ABNA where we are 12 countries from the Balkans and Southeast Europe with the exception of Montenegro which we hope to join us, we are working continuously, by increasing the cooperation between news agencies, in order for the news from our countries to come first hand, and in this way to contribute to the reduction of the possibilities of distortion of information by other actors”, said Krasniqi.

He said that they are also working on creating a Balkan chamber where each agency will be able to give its contribution in this regard.

Whereas, Predrag Vujovic, president of the Serbian agency P.R.A, said that media freedom remains a challenge in the Western Balkans.

“When we talk about media freedom, this is a very difficult question in the Western Balkans. In the Western Balkans, the countries here do not have much freedom, it is not the same everywhere, but most governments and political parties tend to have full control over the media, although we have different processes in the former Yugoslav countries, for example many of the state media are privatized, and political parties are buying them, or even today somehow there are people in power who are buying the media, this is happening in Serbia or other countries. There is also a greater impact of commercialism that is coming not only from political parties but also from corporations”, he said.

Speaking about disinformation and their fight, the leader of UBT University, Edmond Hajziri said that within a day, thousands of such disinformation are generated by countries aimed at destabilization.

“Only in recent years it is considered that 90% of new knowledge has been generated in the whole history of people, only in the last two-three years, we have 80% or 90% of the data we have collected throughout history, if we are confronted with these data, and with this knowledge, the media are responsible for giving the truth in relation to the user and creator of an event. It is seen as a complexity, and we must address this complexity in an innovative way, and we believe that this innovative approach is a requirement of the time to defend ethics, accurate in real time, and to face disinformation, not that they are numerous, but come every day and more. Only a few countries that claim destabilization generate thousands of disinformation within a day about the European Union, Kosovo, for others, this confrontation against these things must be increased”, he said.

Professor and journalist from Tirana, Lutfi Dervishi said that journalists should only report the truth, adding that public trust is not as it has been before in relation to the media.

“We have to be professional journalists to report the truth, to report the truth where you discover it, and not the truth that others say, even an ordinary citizen nowadays can become a journalist. I agree that public trust is not as it used to be in relation to the media”, he said.

This conference is organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), in partnership with the KosovaPress News Agency, the Washington Times Foundation, the International Media Association for Peace (IMAP), and the International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP).

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