Press Freedom Crucial for Fighting Corruption

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 3, 2018 – Croatia’s national council monitoring the implementation of the anti-corruption strategy met on Thursday on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to discuss the importance of media freedom in fighting corruption.

Council president Željko Jovanović (SDP) said that among 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 Croatia ranks 57th with 49 points and is in a group of corrupt countries, while neighbouring Slovenia placed 34th. As for media freedom, Croatia ranks 69th on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, while Slovenia ranks 32nd.

Jovanović said that corruption was closely connected with the reduction of space for civil society and freedom of the media. He said that research by Transparency International (TI) showed that most countries with a low score on civil liberties and media freedom generally had a high score on corruption. “Smear campaigns, harassment, lawsuits and bureaucratic red tape are all tools used by certain governments in an effort to quiet those who drive anti-corruption efforts,” Jovanović read from the TI report.

Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) vice-president Slavica Lukić said that despite a large number of media outlets at local and national levels, the question is whether they are indeed in the service of the public. She added that since 2005 the media have been under growing pressure from politicians and business people, especially from telecoms companies, which has resulted in clientelism and has had a destructive impact on the media’s basic mission.

The economic crisis in 2009 was an excuse for employers to lay off journalists, especially more experienced ones, and journalism has started to turn into PR, Lukić said, adding that such media cannot expose corruption because they themselves are part of the problem.

Among the problems faced by the media industry in Croatia, Lukić cited the lack of transparency of ownership of private media and editors becoming loyal to the owner and violating professional rules for the sake of profit. “The interest of the media industry is to increase profit rather than serve the public,” she said, calling on the government to get actively involved in protecting the public interest.

Croatian Journalists’ Union leader Anton Filić also called on the government to ensure transparency of media ownership.


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