PRESS RELEASES, DECLARATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Vienna, 13 November 2009
SEEMO is glad to announce that during the SEEMO Board Meeting Boris Bergant, former European Broadcasting Union (EBU) President and former Deputy Director of RTV Slovenia, was elected as the new President of the SEEMO Board. Zrinka Vrabec Mojzes was appointed as Deputy President, Radomir Licina, former Board President, will be a Board Member with special responsibility for all SEEMO publications; Pavol Mudry will be in charge of the organisation and funding; Agron Bajrami will be in charge of monitoring activities; Milena Dimitrova will be in charge of press freedom and ethics; and Marta Palics will be responsible for regional cooperation.
During the board meeting, Milena Dimitrova from Bulgaria acquired, according to the results of the SEEMO election in 2006, the function of SEEMO Board Member, instead of Jorgos Papadakis from Greece. The SEEMO Board and SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujovic would like to thank Papadakis for his contribution and all his efforts in recent years as a member of the SEEMO Board. The SEEMO Board and the SEEMO Secretary-General also express a special thank you to Radomir Licina, who was SEEMO Board President from 2002 to 2009, and who did a great job of representing SEEMO over all of the past years.
Another outcome of the SEEMO Board Meeting was a call for regular elections in all SEEMO countries for new Coordinators / Chiefs of the Offices. The elections should take place within six months following the SEEMO Board Meeting. The election will be coordinated by the SEEMO Secretariat in Vienna in cooperation with all SEEMO members in the region.
During its board meeting the SEEMO Board offered special support to Fariba Pajooh, a young Iranian blogger and journalist. On 22 August 2009, Pajooh was arrested at her parents’ house in Teheran. SEEMO supports the liberation of Pajooh and hopes that the authorities in Teheran will free her as a positive signal.
SEEMO is proud to announce the continuation of cooperation with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) until 2012. As a first activity under the new contract, SEEMO is organising the conference Women, Men and Media in Sarajevo from 13-16 December 2009. The next conference, as part of this cooperation, will be the South East Europe Investigative Journalism Forum, a regional meeting of investigative journalists in Montenegro, in May 2010.
SEEMO would hereby like to use this opportunity to also announce its press freedom mission to Serbia. This SEEMO-IPI mission, led by SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujovic and organised in cooperation with the OSCE, will take place from 1 – 3 December 2009. During the visit to Serbia, the mission members will meet different media and political representatives.
SEEMO is also continuing its publishing activities. The new, 2009 edition of the SEEMO South East and Central Europe Media Handbook will be published by the end of November 2009, with the support of regular SEEMO partners: the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Central European Initiative (CEI) and Erste Foundation. After publishing the book, the SEEMO staff will immediately start with the preparation for the 2010 issue. Additionally, a new edition of SEEMO’s quarterly De Scripto magazine was published. This number was in cooperation between the University of Vienna and the University of Athens. The next issue of De Scripto magazine will be focused on public broadcasting and will be published by the end of 2009.
Finally, SEEMO is glad to note that on 4 – 5 November 2009 the third South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) was successfully held in Tirana, Albania. The topic of this year’s SEEMF, which was opened by Albanian President Bamir Topi, was Media, Marketing, Business and New Media. The third SEEMF registered a record number of more than 350 participants from the entire South East and Central European region and was organised in traditional partnership between SEEMO, WAZ Medien Gruppe, and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS). Local partners included Albania Tring Digital, Tring Communications, the Albanian Media Institute and Vizion +. SEEMO is preparing with its partner the fourth SEEMF which should take place in the second half of 2010.
Vienna, 30 November 2009
A delegation of representatives from the South East European Media Organisation (SEEMO) and the International Press Institute (IPI), along with delegates from the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, will begin a three-day press freedom mission in Serbia on 1 December 2009.
During the visit, the delegation will meet with Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, Minister of Culture Nebojsa Bradic and the Justice Ministry’s Secretary General, Slobodan Homen, as well as other government officials, representatives of journalists’ and publishers’ associations and media professionals.
The general situation of media in Serbia is that there continues to be verbal and physical attacks on media professionals, especially in the field of investigative reporting, and legal and administrative measures are often imposed. These issues, as well as the unsolved cases of murders of journalists, are topics high on the agenda.
“An open media environment plays a crucial role in any democratic society. Investigative reporting on corruption and crime and media dedicated to minorities and diversity play an important role in the democratic process. Media professionals should have the right to report freely without any fear for harassment, intimidation and, moreover, without paying with their own lives in certain cases,” said SEEMO Secretary General, Oliver Vujovic, who is heading the press freedom mission. He added: “Thanks to the assistance of the OSCE we will have an opportunity to learn about both the positive and negative aspects of the current situation in the Serbian media.”
Sarajevo, 13-16 December 2009
The South East Media Organisation (SEEMO), following discussions during the conference “Women, Men and Media” – held in Sarajevo on 13-16 December 2009 – has come to the following conclusions:
Despite a relatively good legal framework protecting and promoting gender balance, there is still a bias in favour of men in South East and Central European societies in general, and in the media in particular.
In the media, there are still too few female journalists in top positions, including female media managers. Women working as journalists are frowned upon in some societies – which forces them to give up their profession after getting married. After starting a family, many women experience difficulties when deciding to go back to work. They often end up working part-time or as a freelancer – making them more vulnerable.
The lack of gender sensitivity in the media is evident in the failure to eliminate gender-based stereotyping. Gender stereotypes, especially in advertising and in the news, are regularly apparent. The image of the woman as a sexual object is still present in the social mindset and is reflected by the media in different ways. It is very often misused – even in news programmes.
Gender-based TV or radio programmes and shows are very often made for legal reasons and to respect the use of gender standards, but not as interesting programmes for the viewers, especially women.
Media reports about abused women / sexual violence still remain taboo in countries with strong religious influence / influence of tradition.
All kinds of violence against women, including human trafficking, family violence and forced prostitution, often remain invisible for the audience.
Media reporting about violence against women, including human trafficking, family violence and forced prostitution, are not always respecting professional standards.
Depiction of the female body and female sexuality are very often subordinated to a sexist and sexual perspective.
Sexual harassment at work remains a problem in the SEE region. Cases in which women journalist are discriminated against because of their appearance or unwillingness to respond to the sexual desires of their male superiors are still a reality. In many cases sex appeal is a requirement for applying for a job, and can actually be more highly valued than professional skills.
Governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as the media, should support all efforts towards the equal participation of women and men in all spheres of life including the media, as a crucial element of democracy. All employment positions in the media, including leadership positions, should be open to women regardless of their political, sexual, religious or national affiliation.
It is important for the media to promote gender equality in the working environment and in their representation of women in the workforce. Therefore, paternity leave should be linked to maternity leave to better protect the women on the labour market.
The continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media communications, whether electronic, print or audio, must be changed. Editors for media outlets targeting women audiences should broaden their content and consider the message that is sent by exclusively covering diets, make-up, fashion, cookery and horoscopes and other content that primarily sexualizes women. Female journalists should be able to cover not only ‘soft’ subjects (e.g. social issues, the family, the arts) but also more ‘hard’ news’. Women should not be forced to work harder than men to prove they are capable of the same jobs. The media can contribute to changing the image of women as sexual objects by altering their attitude as well as their approach. Women should be empowered by being allowed to enhance their skills, knowledge and access to information technology. This will strengthen their ability to combat negative portrayals of women internationally.
The media needs to create a self-regulatory mechanism, which should be empowered to address gender-based programming and promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media. Parallel to this, the government should institute measures including appropriate legislation against pornography and the normalization of violence against women and children in the media.
Media owners, editors and publishers should encourage journalists to cover violations against women such as forced prostitution, rape and domestic violence. We stress that covering such issues requires professional reporting skills and discretion.
Media should continue to contribute to the prevention of human rights violations, giving the issue added visibility through the publication of investigative reports. Further we stress that society, politicians and institutions should unite their efforts against human rights violations, including through legislation. Last but not least we stress that appropriate investments are needed to deal with an issue as serious as human rights violations.
We stress that media reports should focus on fundamental problems such as unemployment, lack of education and social exclusion, which are linked to violence against women. Revealing this link is crucial to altering perceptions of violence against women and to removing prejudices and stigmas.
The media should fight against the misuse of women’s bodies and women’s sexuality especially in advertising.
Male colleagues and male supervisors should be sensitive to which behaviours constitute sexual harassment or could be perceived as a sexual advance by their female colleagues. Such behaviour should be regarded as abnormal and prevented from happening. Women journalists should be encouraged to report cases of sexual harassment without fear of repercussions such as losing their position.