By Danica Ilic

The Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) gathered its media partners from South East Europe and Turkey at the regional conference held on 26-27 September in Istanbul. Journalists, editors, directors, press councils and media organisation representatives celebrated the results of the UNESCO project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey – Phase 2,” funded by the European Union – DG NEAR.

The EJN media partners discussed the benefits and challenges of conducting ethical audits as part of the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) led by Reporters Without Borders. Many media outlets, whether they belong to legacy media, online news portals, public service media or fact-checking platforms and who have joined the Building Trust in Media in SEE and Turkey project conducted the self-assessment exercise while some have also published their transparency reports committing fully to the JTI principles.

The regional conference in Istanbul highlighted new solutions for ethics and transparency in the media sectors and examined the broader concerns stemming from the digitalisation of media ethics, the impact of social media on ethics, and the challenges affecting local media in enforcing ethics in journalism.

Addressing the participants from seven countries, the EJN founder Aidan White said that new sources for funding journalism and trustworthy media must be explored. ‘We are here to examine the question of transparency, self-assessment and new business models,’ said White opening the regional conference stating that the work in the Balkans and Turkey was an enormous, fantastic challenge as the context in which media operate there are facing more problems than in many other parts of the world. ‘That is why testing the ethical media audits in the Balkans and Turkey was very important for the EJN,’ said Aidan White.


UNESCO’s project coordinator Adeline Hulin talked about new measures being adopted on the European level in order to recognise the commitment of media outlets to ethical standards and procedures through the Journalism Trust Initiative. ‘There is a growing recognition for those media who have committed to a transparent and accountable way of operating in terms of content production and management,’ said Adeline Hulin.

Presenting the most recent results gained through the JTI app, Bertrand Mossiat from Reporters without the Borders (RSF) said that ‘no matter if you are small media, podcast production, public broadcaster or any other type of media outlet, JTI is becoming a standard of those who are thinking of funding professional, responsible media’.

One of the panels held as part of the regional conference was dedicated to a very specific context in which independent media and journalists in Turkey function. According to the panellists, there are 38 journalists behind the bars in Turkey at the moment, while 90% of the national media are now under government control.



Main image: EJN founder & president Aidan White with Srdan Kosovic of Vijesti, Alfred Lela of Politiko and Aneta Andonova of MTV1, discuss building trust in media in SEE & Turkey. Credit: UNESCO EU

Conference images: 1. Credit: UNESCO EU; 2. Credit: Danica Ilic; 3. Credit: Danica Ilic.


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