Investigative journalism helps fuel democracy was the conclusion of a regional conference on the 'importance and situation of investigative journalism in Western Balkan’s PSM', organised by the Montenegrin public broadcaster RTCG in cooperation with the EBU and the Delegation of the EU in Montenegro.
RTCG is the first in the Western Balkans (WB) region to establish an investigative editorial desk and broadcasts regular investigative programmes called 'Mechanism'. It is keen to share its experience with colleagues in the region. The conference brought together journalists and top managers from the WB to discuss the advantages, challenges and difficulties of establishing investigative journalism editorial desks.
Representatives from Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia shared ideas and views on how to strengthen investigative journalism in public service media in the region and how to help each other. Members such as Croatian Radio and Television reported on best practice in the exchange of programmes, an idea that was strongly supported by the DG of Albanian PSM.
The participants also discussed the need for specialised training on investigative journalism which requires highly professional journalistic skills for researching and checking information, consulting with lawyers and applying best journalistic standards and ethics.
EBU Head of Member Relations East Europe Radka Betcheva says: "investigative journalism is a strong tool for democracy and for the fight against corruption. It is a mission which public broadcasters should carry out in the public interest and which boldly distinguishes them from other media serving vested interests.
"However, it is important that public service media are independent and that the journalists are allowed to seek the truth, to ask challenging questions and to report."
The Ambassador of the EU in Montenegro Aivo Orav said that the European Commission (EC) is following the recent changes in the Council of RTCG and hopes that the Council will continue to support the investigative programme.
The EBU and the EC are supporting RTCG in developing investigative journalism through joint projects and initiatives. They will also continue to support investigative journalism in the region through a joint two-year project involving IFJ, EFJ, ERNO, BIRN and ORF. The project will be launched in 2018 and has a strong investigative journalism component.
The participants at the conference agreed on further follow up and cooperation and identified several cross border topics which are of public interest and relevant for the region – energy, environment and the dispute over the Kosovo-Montenegro border.