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Presentation of Children in the Serbian Media - Children in the Media Mirror

© UNICEF Serbia/Zoran Jovanovic Maccak
From left to right: Serbian Deputy PM and Minister of Police Ivica Dacic, UNICEF Area Representative Judita Reichenberg, UNICEF Regional Chief Communications John Budd, UNICEF Serbia Deputy Representative  Lesley Miller, Prof.  Snjezana Milivojevic

Belgrade, 20 November 2009 - A research carried out by the Centre for Media and Media Research of the Faculty of Political Sciences, that was presented at the public debate “Children in the Media Mirror,” shows that the Serbian media reports on children are dominated by themes that portray children as bullies or victims of violence. The debate was organized by UNICEF on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Such choice of priorities creates a wrong picture that juvenile violence is on a rise, which does not depict the truth, the participants asserted.

Contrary to the provisions of the Convention and the rules of conduct prescribed by domestic legislation and professional media codes of conduct, serious flaws in the treatment of children in the domestic media can be observed: direct disclosure of identity of the children who are victims of violence; publication of photos of children who passed away due to a medical error or as a consequence of violence, which additionally insults their dignity; conveying unconfirmed information obtained from anonymous police sources; interviews with children who are under medical surveillance and on medical drugs; stigmatization of the poor and members of minority groups...

The participants in the debate were the Minister of Justice Ms. Snezana Malovic, Minister of Interior Mr. Ivica Dacic, representatives of the Ministries of Culture and Telecommunications, journalists’ associations, Republic Broadcasting Agency and editors of the leading Serbian media, UNICEF representatives. According to them, one of the key issues that make the work of journalists so difficult is a lack of consensus among the media, state institutions and organizations that deal with the protection of child rights on the minimum of rules that must be observed indisputably when reporting about children.

It was said during the debate that the treatment of children in media, which shows no desire to have a studious approach to the opening up of issues related to social, economic and other rights of the child, is also influenced by the inclination of the domestic media, the electronic ones in particular, to dedicate most of their programme to entertainment and commercial segments.

© UNICEF Serbia/Zoran Jovanovic Maccak
Representatives of Serbian ministries, association of journalists and editors-in-chief of key media discuss ethical reporting on child rights

An agreement was reached that both the journalists and the representatives of ministries and state institutions responsible for the protection of child rights need to be provided with education on child rights and that their better mutual communication needs to be ensured. The experts have proposed the improvement of the monitoring of the reporting about children and requested the Republic Broadcasting Agency to commit itself to making its reports on the work of the electronic media available to the public by publishing them on the website.

A particular attention was brought to the fact that there is a growing popularity and influence of the “new media,” primarily the Internet, therefore the need for the control of the contents that are in this way accessible to children.

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