PR press service – Within the project “Strengthening the role of the media in improving criminal justice in Montenegro”, over 70 local journalists were trained, and in order to complete the education process, a Manual for investigative journalism in the field of criminal justice was developed.
This was announced at a press conference, on the occasion of the presentation of the project realized by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) in cooperation with Television (TV) Prva, which was financed through the European Union’s (EU) Media Professionalization Program.
CEDEM Director Milena Besic said the project aimed to contribute to Montenegro’s EU integration process, by strengthening the media’s capacity to report on criminal justice and increasing the quality and credibility of investigative journalism in the field.
“The purpose of the project is to strengthen the integrity and expertise of the media for investigative reporting on criminal justice, in accordance with EU and Council of Europe standards, as well as the Code of Journalists of Montenegro,” Besic explained.
She said that the importance of investigative journalism for all societies, especially societies in transition, is invaluable, noting that investigative journalism is a process that deals with topics that are intentionally or accidentally hidden from the public.
“That is why this kind of journalism is necessary for society as a whole. “Citizens have the right to know about the society in which they live, as well as to make decisions about decisions that can directly or indirectly affect them, based on relevant facts,” Besic said.
She pointed out that non-transparency, abuse of official position and various types of harmful things for society are very close to countries in transition.
“People in positions of power can abuse the power they possess. The task of people who are engaged in investigative journalism is to discover the causes and consequences of such actions and in that way change everyday life and fight for a better society “, said Bešić.
By promoting investigative journalism, he believes, it can contribute to changes in everything that needs to change in Montenegro.
CEDEM project coordinator, Marko Pejović, explained that the project started with an analysis of the media environment with an emphasis on respecting the Code of Ethics for Journalists in Montenegro.
“The key thing was that, through trainings, ie trainings for local journalists of Montenegro, we work on raising their capacities, in order to increase their professionalism and expertise, in the part of the research process. In this regard, in cooperation with colleagues from BIRN, a training curriculum was conducted, which was conducted in the previous 18 months “, stated Pejović.
He said that two training modules were held, that the training covered 70 local journalists and that the most eminent experts in the field of reporting on criminal justice were hired.
“The first module was about improving the techniques, methods and standards of reporting on criminal justice, bearing in mind that journalists do not know the best terminology related to criminal justice. The first module was realized through three trainings. The second module was about checking the data that exists on the Internet. The focus was on social networks, taking into account that they are widely used today and that the data we receive through social networks need to be further verified. The second module was realized through two trainings “, explained Pejović.
He said that the Manual for Investigative Journalism in the Field of Criminal Justice had been prepared, so that, as he said, the education process would be completed, and journalists would have clear instructions for writing stories.
“The handbook is intended for journalists, especially at the local level. However, it can be used by anyone interested in the civil sector and colleges. The manual follows the process from the very beginning of the story to its publication “, explained Pejović.
Believing that, as he said, the cooperation of representatives of the justice system at the local level, on the one hand, and the media and the civil sector, on the other hand, can lead to synergy of potentials, working meetings of representatives of the justice system and media were organized in Pljevlja, Ulcinj and Niksic.
“Local media assessed that the transparency of basic courts and basic state prosecutor’s offices has significantly improved, although there is still room for improving that cooperation.” “Cooperation between journalists and representatives of the justice system is necessary, in order to improve reporting and avoid sensationalist headlines,” Pejovic said.
Bearing in mind that, as he said, the Code of Journalists is often violated, and due to insufficient knowledge and information in this part, three info sessions were held in Bar, Podgorica and Niksic, where, as he explained, citizens are informed what they can do if their rights have been violated by media coverage.
Pejovic pointed out that the recommendations were to continue training journalists, “especially when we talk about local journalists, bearing in mind that a large number of projects relate to larger media outlets and that local journalists are neglected.”
“The second part of this project was focused on the TV campaign, which we did with TV Prva, and it concerns the promotion of the Code and its key principles,” said Pejović.
The editor of TV Prva, Gordana Đuračić, explained that ten documentaries were made about the police, prisons, judges, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, media, prosecutor’s office, war crimes, lawyers and unjustified detention.
“The documentary on the police showed that the cooperation between institutions, the media, the non-governmental sector and the entire state should be stronger. In the last two years, it has been shown that the fight against organized crime is better and more effective, “said Djuracic.
She pointed out that the film about judges showed the workload of judges with a large number of cases and that they often act in rooms that are very small.
“This film has shown that there is an uneven jurisprudence. There are situations that in two similar cases, we have two completely different sanctions, for example, in one case three years in prison, in another even ten “, explained Đuračić.
In the film about juvenile delinquency, she said, statistics were presented which show that in the first 11 months of last year, 327 juveniles committed theft.
“In the film about the media, it turned out that journalists face difficulties in reporting from courtrooms, especially because all they can use is a pen, paper and memory. So sometimes there may be some omissions “, said Đuračić.