The media should carefully report on cases of violent extremism
Podgorica, (MINA) – The media should be especially careful when reporting on cases of violent extremism and ethno-nationalism, as these are problems that directly threaten democratic values and the civic concept of society.
This was reported at a workshop “Media in the Prevention and Countering Violent Extremism” organized by Forum MNE, as part of a three-year project “Communities First: Creation of civil society hub to address violent extremism—from Prevention to Reintegration”.
Project coordinator for the Forum MNE, Jelena Fuštić, said that the Forum is a three-year project implemented by Center for Legal Civic Initiatives (Albania), Hope and Homes for Children (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Partners Kosova – Center for Conflict Management (Kosovo), Forum MNE (Montenegro), Center for Common Ground (North Macedonia), and Cultural Center DamaD (Serbia) with financial support from the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration Of Montenegro.
According to her, the goal of the project is capacity building, empowering the civilian sector, as social actors, when it comes to preventing violent extremism.
She announced that there will be four more training sessions under the projects.
“We will also work with teachers and youth activists,” Fustic said.
The issue of preventing violent extremism and radicalization at the state level is addressed by the National Operational Team, which consists of 22 representatives of institutions and non-governmental organizations.
In the National Platform for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization That Leads to Terrorism, they defined that generally violent extremism refers to violence that is justified or associated with extreme religious or political ideology.
As they stated, combating these phenomena requires engagement of the society as a whole.
“The achievement of this goal is possible through the implementation of a comprehensive and integrated social response based on the partnership of central and local authorities, civil society, religious communities, academia, media and citizens,” the platform estimates.
A 35 millimeter NGO representative, Kristina Ćetković, said that they, with the news agency MINA and the Nomen NGO, had implemented a project “Lets Deal with Ethics and Fake News”.
According to her, when working with young people in nine cities in Montenegro, they noticed that they were easier to spot fake news at workshops than in theory, when they were only told about them.
“Not all fake news are obvious. Some are well packed and difficult to spot,” Ćetković stated.
She said that fake news and propaganda were a plague of the 21st century.
She explained that in the Journalism Practice study, they dealt with data journalism, fake news and the Journalist Code.
According to her, the study showed that journalists to varying degrees want to engage in data journalism, but that there are numerous obstacles to do so.
“Lack of resources, adequate knowledge and time are barriers to engaging in data journalism,” Ćetković said.
As she said, 62 percent of respondents believe that their media has no plans to engage in data journalism, which she finds devastating.
She explained that data journalism was based on data and facts.
“So, if you are interested in a topic and want to investigate it, you will go to the relevant institutions to get exact information. Then process that information and present it in a visual way. Today, it comes down to taking a statement from one side or the other and putting it into the text,” Ćetković said.
But, as she stated, in some redactions they had never heard of this kind of journalism.
“And then it’s hard to expect that such people can teach you anything,” Ćetković said.
The survey found that those involved in data journalism say they are engaged in it because it is in the public interest.
According to the study, 96 percent of respondents know what fake news is.
“98 percent think they are a problem for Montenegro and 88 percent think that journalists are the ones who have to work hard to prevent such news from being published and spread,” Ćetković said.
She added that it was devastating that there was no investigative journalism in Montenegro.
“And it is devastating for both society and the journalists themselves,” Ćetković said.
Talking about the Code of Journalists, 60 percent of the study respondents are fully aware and 94 percent think it is necessary in their daily work.
Milica Bogdanović of the non-governmental organization Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) said that a year ago, the Disclosure.me platform published its first analysis of media coverage.
Since then, they have analyzed numerous publications in the field of international politics.
According to her, regardless of editorial stance, the media is vulnerable to propaganda politics.
“Because journalists often do not recognize the propaganda pamphlets that are masked in news reports, they publish or transmit them, thus further contributing to their organized spread,” Bogdanović said.
She said that they have noticed that the media chooses how they convey information about a particular situation or topic, which is not necessarily incorrect but leads to the creation of established narratives on those topics.
“Such narratives are being expanded on a daily basis and aim to guide the conclusions of the media content consumer in a specific direction that corresponds to the ideological commitment of those who create or order the content,” Bogdanović said.
She said that everyone must have an awareness of what tabloid news is.
“In addition to the need to involve state institutions, civil society and the media in combating the dissemination of misinformation, by raising the professional standard, it is important for each individual to have a critical eye on the information that the media distributes,” Bogdanović shared.
The individual, she said, should ask himself what is true, take care of what is being marketed to him, so that he does not disseminate information that he is not sure is correct and which are unverified or that he doubts.
As she said, they have noticed numerous media narratives that they will deal with in more detail in the coming period.
“It is a narrative about the so-called Greater Albania, which follows the constant spread of fear of the formation of this alleged country and the frightening hatred of the Albanian people,” Bogdanović said.
She added that during the recent voting procedure for the Life Partnership Act, the narrative was intensified that the regulation would endanger traditional family relationships.
“The information that made up this narrative inaccurately portrayed the content of the proposed regulation, often including hate speech against the LGBT population,” Bogdanović said.
She also added that the narrative of returnees from Syria, the so-called jihadists, who would lead bloody conflicts in the Balkans, is expanding in the local and regional online space.
“In addition, there is a narrative about all-powerful Russian weapons, which is used only for righteous purposes,” Bogdanović concluded.
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