280 Journalists from Non-Profit Media Lose Their Incomes

Total Croatia News

Croatian Journalists’ Society warns about consequences of a decision by the Culture Ministry to abolish financial support for non-profit media.

After the programme of giving grant support to non-profit media has been discontinued by the Ministry of Culture, which in the past three years strengthened the media sector, 280 journalists have been left without incomes as of last day of September, announced the Croatian Journalists’ Society (HND), reports tportal.hr on October 2, 2016.

The future of 20 non-profit media, which employed 30 staff journalists and 250 freelance associates, is uncertain, and that is, according to the statement, the result of political action by Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović.

HND says that he discontinued the support programme for non-profit media in January, he abolished the committee which made decisions on these grants, and stopped the programme of support to the media community for which the Ministry during the previous government received 30.6 million kuna from the European Social Fund. In that way, Hasanbegović’s decisions brought an end to programmes that at least partially stopped the trend of professional journalists becoming unemployed.

Despite widespread claims that the internet portals were spending taxpayers’ money, it should be noted that the work of non-profit media was co-financed with less than three million kuna of lottery income from Croatian Lottery and not from the budget. This modest resources were sufficient for individual news websites to employ on average one journalist for a net salary of 4,000 kuna, while fees paid to freelancers were often only a few hundred kuna per month.

HND points out that the importance of non-profit media lies in the coverage of socially important topics in which commercial media are rarely interested. “The way Zlatko Hasanbegović led the Ministry of Culture, especially when it comes to the media, is a serious risk to democracy and pluralism. There has been a huge step backwards when it comes to press freedom and the right to freedom of expression, while at the same time it encouraged revisionism. By choosing Hasanbegović for the Minister, the reputation of Croatia in international circles has been damaged”, says HND.

HND expects that the future Prime Minister-Designate will “seriously consider” the person who will lead the Ministry and which will “as soon as possible, repair the damage done by” the outgoing minister. “In the media and overall, he systematically refused any kind of communication, and allowed in his department only those who shared his worldview, with intolerance towards others being the major element of the Ministry’s activities”, concludes HND.


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