Sunday, December 2, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) - “A free and independent media is an essential part of any true democracy,” Ambassador Douglas Davidson, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, said to a seminar for journalism students held at the Bosnian Parliamentary Assembly. The event, the third in a series of such seminars, was organized by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia in partnership with the Press Council.

Ambassador Davidson noted that media in Bosnia had been given high marks by several institutions: the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in his recent report on this country had referred to the Bosnian media landscape “as one of the most advanced self-regulatory mechanisms in Europe”; and the World Wide Press Freedom Index had Bosnia at 21st place in its rankings.

Also,Reporters Without Borders had put Bosnia ahead of countries like the United States when it came to press freedom.

Although freedom of expression was a human right guaranteed in the Dayton Constitution, Davidson said, Bosnia had also created several institutions as a recourse against misuse of this right by the media: a press code and a press council for the self-regulating print press, the Communications Regulatory Agency for the electronic media; and a Freedom of Access to Information Act and the Law on Protection against Defamation.

Still, Davidson added, “The existence of an advanced regulatory framework is not enough to ensure a truly free and independent press.” That also required a responsible approach on the part of journalists to their work.

The media’s function, he argued, was “to act as a guardian of the public interest and as a watchdog on the activities of government.” Thus it was “an important component…of the checks and balances” that were fundamental for a democracy.

If one accepted the common definition of journalism, he continued, as a “very rough draft of history,” it also followed that journalists would “get some things wrong.” Nevertheless, he advised, “journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters should still at least strive for maximum objectivity and fealty to facts.”

The profession the students had chosen, he concluded, was “an honourable one,” one that had a “special place in a democratic society.” They should be careful to dispose of the enormous power accorded to them “wisely.”

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