How to adjust media ethics to the digital era discussed in Pristina

The rapid progress of technology has shaken the roots of different aspects of social life, and journalism has not been an exception. In Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) newspapers such as Gazeta Express, Tribuna and several other outlets have switched to online-only editions. While adopted for print media outlets, the Code of Ethics of the Kosovo Press Council has not yet addressed the new ethical journalistic dilemmas brought by the new media landscape. To tackle this issue, UNESCO supported the organization of a workshop to discuss the shortcomings of the Press Code of Kosovo regarding online media self-regulation and some potential amendments to the Code.

Held in Pristina, Kosovo (as understood in the UNSCR1244) the workshop gathered 25 participants, including journalists from online and print media and TV, representatives of civil society and journalism students, representatives from the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the OSCE.

Imer Mushkolaj, Chairman of the Press Council of Kosovo, emphasized the fact that ethical principles of journalism are an important base for professional journalists and that these principles should also be applied by online journalists. At the moment, the Press Code of Kosovo aims to be a comprehensive tool for all its signatories and for written media in Kosovo (UNSCR1244). The Code sets forth guidelines for ethical and fair journalism by setting out the most probable situations of potential violations and by providing the foundations of a self-regulation system that should be considered morally and professionally binding on reporters, editors and the owners and publishers of newspapers and periodicals. However, specific issues related to online media demand amendments or supplements to the Code.

Besa Luci, editor in chief of Kosovo 2.0 news portal focused on the credibility of news portals as a basis for successful journalism. Furtuna Sheremeti from Jeta në Kosovë news portal said that the amendment of the ethical principles for online media outlets was essential at the time of a rapid growth of online portals.  

This event was organized with the support of the UNESCO EU-funded project “Media Accountability in South East Europe and Turkey” which started in January 2013. This project builds on UNESCO’s previous efforts funded by the European Union in the South East Europe region, and aims to raise awareness and reinforce capacities of media professionals to strengthen ethical and professional standards in journalism. Recently under this project, UNESCO published a comprehensive assessment of the needs of each media councils in the region. The chapter related to the Kosovo Press Council and its recommendations highlight the necessity for this body to address the new online media landscape. Please see here for further details.