BELGRADE – Electronic media in Serbia interrupted their programme on Saturday as part of the event Five Minutes of Thunderous Silence and read a statement by the Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS) that says the media freedom in the country is at threat and that journalism has never been in a more difficult position economically.
“Serbia’s progress in global rankings concerning political and media freedoms (Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders) masks the poverty experienced by journalists, who have dropped down to the bottom of the rankings in terms of pays, even though they are among the employees with the highest level of education,” the UNS said in its statement marking May 3, World Press Freedom Day.
Some research shows that reporters in Serbia earn as much as railway employees, and less than bus drivers.
“That is why this year, on World Press Freedom Day, we have to reiterate that there can be no free journalism in poverty, corruption and fear,” the UNS noted.
The UNS supports the imlpementation of the media strategy and adoption of new laws related to the media, but it also underscores that the “wild privatization of the previous decade” that hurt the Serbian journalists’ freedom of expression must not happen again.
The UNS, therefore, demands that the government withdrawal from wonership in the media be accompanied by legal guarantees that the tax payers’ money the government now uses to fund public information companies will still be available to the media, at least at the level of 2 percent of the budget for local governments.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor for War Crimes should start doing its job concerning the cases of 39 Serbian reporters and media employees who were killed in the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the statement says.
The UNS supports the efforts by the authorities to finally identify the people who killed Slavko Curuvija, Milan Pantic and Dada Vujasinovic.