International Journalism Festival, Perugia, 10 April 2016
SEEMO panel Who's fighting against corruption in SE Europe: the media or the police?
As every year, SEEMO organised a panel during the Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy This year the topic of the SEEMO panel was Who's fighting against corruption in SE Europe: the media or the police, and it took place on 10 April in a full conference room of the Palazzo Sorbello in Perugia.
Journalists in South East and Central Europe are often filling an institutional gap and doing investigations in cases of corruption instead of state authorities, including investigation of corruption inside the police. During the panel we learned, that in some countries, like Romania, the anti-corruption authority is doing the investigations, in other countries the most important role have journalists. Instead of state authorities, journalist examine business practices of oligarchs, find people on wanted lists, investigate questionable deals involving family members of politicians in power, compare the reported salaries with the extravagant lifestyles of managers working in public companies, investigating financial and other irregularities in the churches. Journalists are working on these issues closely with civil society organisations, national authorities and financial institutions, and also international anti-corruption groups. Journalists do it in difficult conditions, and sometimes at great personal risk. Good investigative journalists may expose criminality and help bring criminals to justice, but they are not officers of the law. During the panel, the participants also discussed about journalists and citizens, can both sides can work together on investigations, the role of intelligent services, criminals and police in delivering information to journalists, as also about the "Panama papers" - including the question is this still journalism, and who makes the decision what will be published from documents like "Panama papers" - are this documents available for all journalists, or do media and journalists receiving only selected information. This discussion included also the question why in the first news about "Panama papers" western media promote so much information from "Panama papers" connected to Russia, and reported less about offshore companies from West Europe and USA. Participants were: Aleksandra Bogdani, an investigative journalist and editor for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania, Milorad Ivanovic, editor in chief of the Serbian edition of Newsweek magazine, Sasa Lekovic, president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association and Cristian Niculescu, who works as a journalist and trainer of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism. In the beginning of the panel Senior Executive Officer at the Central European Initiative(CEI) Barbara Fabro, presented the annual CEI SEEMO Investigative Journalism Award and all was moderated by SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic as chairperson.