The Croatian Journalists' Union (SNH) and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Thursday staged a protest campaign to warn about the degradation of journalism and point to problems, from a lack of media strategy and attacks, threats and lawsuits against reporters to precarious work.
The protest, staged on International Human Rights Day, was held under the slogan #imaspravona (#youhavetherightto).
Accentuating 72 problems reporters are faced with, the organisers of the protest said the number was chosen as a symbolic link with the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10, 1948.
“We particularly underline two elements of the Declaration – freedom of expression and the right to equal pay for equal work,” SNH leader Maja Sever said outside the HND offices.
She said that they had written 72 objections regarding freedom of expression and speech as a reminder of the situation in the media sector, notably the problem of reporters being sued over their published texts.
“Croatia is a model of so-called SLAPP lawsuits, which are used to intimidate, pressure and existentially threaten reporters and people who write the truth. Sometimes the plaintiff does not even expect to win the case but court proceedings financially exhaust reporters and some media have been brought to the brink of bankruptcy,” Sever said.
She warned about the government’s inaction in regulating the media scene.
The long-standing political disregard for the media and total lack of media policies have been undermining the sector for ten years or so, eroding its public function to inform the public. Financial injections by the government for media sectors in distress this year have revealed that the situation has reached the critical point and that it must change, the HND and the SNH said.