Without media freedom and an independent journalistic profession, it is not possible to hear the voices of the disenfranchised or those exposed to pressure or repression. When we have media darkness, all human rights are endangered and no one can feel safe. Unfortunately, this year as well, Serbia is celebrating the World Press Freedom Day in the media darkness.
The public scene is dominated by false news and propaganda information, the creators of which are most often in positions of political power. Hate speech has become normalized in the political narrative. Information blockade makes it impossible to encourage critical awareness. Information is becoming a key lever for manipulating public opinion. Employees of such propaganda are also numerous quasi-media and anti-journalists who are in fact spokespersons for populist and anti-democratic policies.
We appeal to the citizens to fight for free media, because this is the first step in the fight for the democratization of society, for the rule of law and the rights of the working class, which is deeply humiliated in this country today.
Do not allow local powerful people to set the rules of the game in your communities, but support local journalists who do their job in accordance with the standards of the profession, and not the interests of the centers of power.
Free media and professional journalists and other media workers are your voice, the voice of all citizens. Free media provides power in the hands of citizens, because they are the controllers of decision makers.
For years, we have witnessed a trend of stifling media that operate in accordance with the code of the profession, professional journalists are exposed to daily pressures and threats only because they represent the public interest. Few respond to these threats.
Attacks on journalists are often preceded by name-calling and labeling of journalists by government officials or local politicians, which in fact incites bullies and violence against professional journalists.
Citizens must be aware that these threats are a direct attack on their freedoms. And that is why they should raise their voice and demand from the institutions to act according to the law.
We remind you that according to the reports of relevant international organizations, Serbia does not belong to the category of democratic states – but among hybrid regimes, in which the government is based on authoritarianism.
World Press Freedom Day, May 3, was established by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly as a reminder to the governments of all countries that they are obliged to respect and support the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
If citizens give up free media, there will be no one left to inform them that they have become subjects. Because the enemies of media freedom are the enemies of free citizens.
This year, we invite journalists and the media to join the international symbolic action “Five Minutes of Loud Silence” and turn off the tone and image in their programs, and we urge citizens to be active in protecting their rights by supporting free media.
A democratic society cannot be built only by brave journalists, our society needs brave citizens. Without civic courage and determination, there is koalitionno free society.
Novi Sad – Belgrade – Kragujevac, May 3, 2022
GS KUM “Independence”
Online Media Association (AOM)
Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV)
Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS)
Business Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press”
Slavko Curuvija Foundation
Coalition for Media Freedom