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Promoting Media Accountability in South East Europe and Turkey

© UNESCO - Local media interviewing conference participants. Regional conference “Addressing online hate speech in South East Europe and Turkey: the role of media accountability mechanisms”, 16-17 October 2013.

With financial support from the European Union, UNESCO is promoting freedom of expression and press freedom in South East Europe and Turkey. The project, entitled “Media Accountability in South East Europe”, seeks to build on UNESCO’s previous efforts funded by the European Union by raising awareness and building capacity of media professionals to strengthen ethical and professional standards in journalism. The project is being implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, as well as in Kosovo (administered by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244).

Overview of activities

Raising public awareness on media self-regulation mechanisms

Awareness of the public about journalistic professional standards, ethics and media accountability systems has been increased through yearly national tailored awareness-raising campaigns.

Supporting the establishment of media accountability mechanisms

To support the establishment of accountability mechanisms in countries where no press council currently exists, two pilot news ombudsmen positions were created within the Albanian newspapers MAPO and Shqiptarja.com. The project also supported the establishment of a press council in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Addressing online hate speech

A research has been conducted to identify measures needed by media and other organizations to address hate speech in online media, as well as these measures’ effectiveness and impact on freedom of expression. In cooperation with the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM) and existing press councils in the region, media professionals, media experts and representatives of media accountability bodies met to discuss the results of a draft survey assessing trends in hate speech across South East Europe and Turkey.

Regional media conferences

A conference on addressing online hate speech in South East Europe and Turkey through media accountability mechanisms was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from 16 to 17 October 2013. Another regional conference for South East Europe and Turkey was organized in Skopje, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the issue "The media in South East Europe: not enough or too much information?"

Assessing the needs of press councils in South East Europe

The report focuses on five media councils in the region: in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The aim of the report is to analyse the operations of each council and to provide an assessment of their needs based on the particular challenges they face. The report also identifies areas for potential future activities all with a view to encouraging their improved functionality and sustainability in the long term.

Regional networking

The project helped media professionals, members of press councils and professional associations at the local and sub-regional level to connect with processes that promote voluntary media self-regulation at the wider European level (e.g. sponsoring participation in activities organized by other European media self-regulation institutions, attendance to the annual meeting of the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe, etc.) in Tel-Aviv in 2013 and Brussels in 2014.

The project also sponsored the participation of media representatives from South East Europe to the World Press Freedom Day Celebrations in Riga on 3 May 2015.

Strengthening knowledge and skills on Freedom of Information (FOI) Laws

Journalists from South East Europe have been empowered to make better use of access to Information Laws in their daily work. Training seminars have been organized and a Legal Leaks Toolkit translated and printed for each target country of the Project.

Previous action in support of Media Accountability in South East Europe and Turkey

The current initiative builds on a European Union-funded project that was led by UNESCO from August 2008 to February 2011 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey, as well as in Kosovo (as understood under UN Security Council Resolution 1244). This initial project, entitled “Alignment to International Standards in the Media Sector of South East-European Countries”, supported the development of self-regulation mechanisms and the adoption of media accountability best practices through two series of local roundtables, two region-wide meetings and a closing conference organized in Paris in January 2011. The closing conference brought together press council members, new ombudsmen, editors, journalists, academics, and representatives from media institutes, civil society and international organizations. Participants also shared knowledge through the publication Professional Journalism and Self-Regulation. New Media, Old Dilemmas in South East Europe and Turkey  and a special section on Professional Journalistic Standards and Codes of Ethics developed on UNESCO’s website.

Development partner

Project timeline

30 November 2012 30 November 2015


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