The Council for Media Ethics (CMEM) continues to react to the frequent cases of unethical and unprofessional reporting and, in particular, about the spread of speculation in some media about the coronavirus pandemic. Inaccurate information and sensationalism can further increase anxiety and panic and encourage irrational behavior among citizens.
From the moment of declaring the state of emergency until today, 47 cases of unprofessional and unethical reporting have been reported to the Press Complaints Commission at the CMEM. Of these, most of the complaints (31 or 70 percent of cases) relate to reports of coronavirus pandemics. Violation of Article 1 of the Journalists' Code, which refers to the publication of accurate and verified information, was found in 39% of the reported cases, while violation of Article 8 of the Journalists' Code, i.e. sensationalist information was found in 35% of the reported cases.
The public also reacts to the attempts for politicization of the coronavirus crisis in the media and in some of the reported cases to the CMEM journalists do not provide professional distance from the political entities, i.e. Article 14 of the Code of Journalists is violated (32%). The media must not be used to divide people through various political calculations, and the coronavirus must not be the 'weapon' used by any politician, whether in the Government or in the opposition, for political gains.
16% of the cases refer to violation of Article 12 of the Code of Journalists, according to which plagiarism is unacceptable and quotations may not be used without indicating the source or the author. If the information is taken, the source must be indicated. In this context, CMEM urges the media to clearly and explicitly mention the source and author when using content from another media or social networks.
A positive practice is that the number of cases resolved through mediation is increasing and, in this regard, the Press Complaints Commission at the CMEM welcomes the readiness of the media to make a correction when a mistake in the content is identified.
CEMM continues to monitor the way the media inform, both those who are part of the membership and those who are not yet members, and we will call for consistent adherence to the Code of Journalism as a prerequisite for professional reporting.
Self-regulation is the only certain way for the media to improve their reporting practices, while protecting freedom of expression, without facing other mechanisms of control or "trial" for their work.