Media in Montenegro from the perspective of citizens and journalists

Trust of the citizens is extremely important for the media. Unfortunately, the vast majority of citizens (87.2%) consider that the media in Montenegro are willing or somewhat willing to publish sensational information that are not verified at all or insufficiently verified to increase circulation and ratings. At the same time, almost half of them consider that media in Montenegro are not impartial, and almost half think that media also use facts mixed with rumours. These are some of the findings from the publication Media in Montenegro from the perspective of citizens and journalists, published by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE).

The publication summarizes findings of the public opinion research, as well as 10 profound, qualitative interviews with journalists, editors and media owners of different generations and gender, from the local and national levels. It provides a unified insight into the attitudes of citizens and media representatives through statistical data processing, as well as their qualitative assessments of the environment for the media work in Montenegro, the status of journalists, the role of the media in democratization of society, journalism ethics, influence on the work of the media (internal and external), the economic sustainability of the media, etc.

Journalists have a key role in protecting the interests of citizens. The role of the journalists is to stay committed to their profession, regardless of who has the levers of power. Most of the interviewed media representatives (7 of 10) agreed with the claim that former authorities and state bodies hampered investigative journalism, while three of them said they somewhat agreed. Half of the interviewed ones consider that media owners have a complete influence on the editorial policy of the media in which they work, while slightly more than a third consider that this influence is partial. Nine out of ten of the interviewed ones agree with the statement that the Law on Media should define who a journalist is.

Media workers consider that media in Montenegro often use facts mixed with personal attitudes, but at the same time, they consider that the awareness regarding professional reporting is higher today than it was a decade ago. At the same time, all interviewees agreed that the safety of journalists should be one of the key priorities, emphasizing that they do not have enough adequate conditions for engaging in investigative journalism in such circumstances.

Thorough, qualitative interviews with journalists, editors and media owners conducted and processed researchers of the CCE. On the other side, expert support in conducting a public opinion poll, from 20 to 25 March 2021, was provided by the Damar agency. Similar research on citizens’ attitudes was conducted by the Damar agency in 2018, which enabled comparative insight into the set of issues that can be valuable for understanding the complexity of the situation in the media sphere and planning further media policies, but also as an indicator of changes in certain aspects covered within this research.

The publication is produced within the project “Media for Me!”, implemented by the CCE with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway and the Balkan Trust for Democracy funded by German Marshall Fund of the United States (BTD).

Damir Nikočević, Development Coordinator