Bulgarian Media in 2011: Substantial Investigations and Pseudo journalism

179

Giving light on how the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior receives donations – a brilliant example of the positive role of the media in society, building up the“Green octopus” case – an evidence for their manipulative influence

The Association of European journalists – Bulgaria prepared a rating of the best and the worst in the Bulgarian journalism in 2011:

High-quality journalism rating

1. Journalistic materials, which have build up the social dialogue. The first place in this category is for the series of articles in “Sega” daily disclosing the donations by private companies to the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior. The authors of the investigations are Doroteya Dachkova, Diayan Morkin and Diana Petrova.

2. Articles based on original topics, which have stayed away from the media spotlight. The first place is shared by Neva Micheva for her series of articles on foreign cultures, published in “Kultura” and “Capital Weekly”, and by Svetla Encheva for her persistent withstanding of the civil point of view as well as her materials in “Neuyten blog”(“Uncosy blog”) (http://svetlaen.blogspot.com) covering the problems of refugees and foreigners, who do not have a legal status in Bulgaria.

3. Outstanding contribution for sustaining high standards in the Bulgarian media sector. We acclaim “Hristo Botev” Program of the Bulgarian National Radio.


Rating of pseudo journalism


1. Journalistic materials in favor of the public powers and/or particular business interests. The winner of this category is Aneliya Ivancheva for her article “Green Octopus Acquires 10 mln. leva by Blackmailing”, published on the website vsekiden.bg.

2. Articles violating the ethic code of journalism and / or are offensive to particular groups of people. The leaders in this category are noted for their intolerable way, in which the homicide of Yana Krusteva in Sofia’s central park was reported. Those are the newspapers “Monitor”, “Standard”, “Telegraph” and “24 hours”.

3. Outstanding contribution for deteriorating the Bulgarian media sector. The first place goes to New Bulgarian Media Group.

Despite the growing number of media, which need to be reminded that journalism is made in favor of the society, we, the members of Association of European journalists – Bulgaria ( AEJ), totally disagrees with disgracing the journalistic profession due to the negative examples, which undoubtedly exist. On the contrary, we are convinced that media has a valuable positive role in the development of the democratic society. In order to prove that those are not phrases with no meaning, we decided to initiate an ongoing process of assessment with positive and negative nominations for journalistic materials, authors, media and whole institutions. You can nominate candidates on a monthly basis directly on our website www.aej-bulgaria.org.

Monthly nominations

The results of the ranking will contribute to the research on freedom of speech which we do as a part of the team of the Association of European Journalists – International.

Comments on the ranking for 2011

The series of articles published by the “Sega” newspaper covering the private donations for the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior are AEJ-Bulgaria’s choice for a winner in the category Journalistic materials, which have build up the social dialogue. Doroteya Dachkova and her colleagues’ efforts are a bright example of investigative journalism. The fact that the question, raised publicly for the first time by the newspaper, found its place in two consecutive monitoring reports of the European Commission, is a proof not only for its value, but for the professional approach of the journalists. We believe that the decision of  “Sega” daily and “Dnevnik” daily to join their efforts to bring this investigation to its end also deserves admiration. The valuable journalistic investigations usually involve significant amount of work and financial resources and sometimes can even be dangerous. Therefore, we consider that regardless of the serious competition in the media sector, the solidarity between the different media and journalists is essential when they are lead by the public interest.

However, unfortunately, more often we become witnesses of solidarity between different media when they lead campaigns in favor of particular economic or political interests. There are serious public suspicions that editions such as the newspapers “Republic”, “Telegraph”, Standard”, “Klassa”, “Weekend” and the websites www.frognews.bg, www.vsekiden.bg, etc., are involved in an organized negative campaign against representatives of the environmental movements in Bulgaria. The article “Green Octopus Acquires 10 mln. leva by Blackmailing” by the journalist Aneliya Ivancheva which was published by the “vsekiden” (“every day”) website is an expression of this campaign. For this reason it lead our ranking in the category for journalistic materials which serve the public authorities and/or certain private interests. The text makes serious, but totally unproven accusations. Sadly, the reality in Bulgaria is such that the people targeted by negative media campaigns can hardly clean up their names and be properly compensated.

In our yearly rating we also created the category for Materials violating the ethic code of journalism and/or are offensive to particular groups of people. Here we put on top position the intolerable way in which the homicide of Yana Krusteva was covered by some particular media, namely the newspapers “Monitor”, “Standard”, “Telegraph” and “24 hours”. It is worth mentioning that after the straightforward public reaction on the topic the above mentioned editions changed their discourse. Nikolay Barekov’s statement against the farmers, protesting in center of Sofia, made during national live broadcast on TV 7 channel hardly needs any further comment. We are also mentioning with alarm the numerous signals that we received by people with reproductive problems concerning publications in “Standard” daily that have seriously violated their feelings. In fact, these are not editorials, but comments made in the point of view of representatives of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Therefore we cannot talk about direct breach of the journalistic ethical code. However, the very fact that a number of people contacted us in relation with articles such as “A Belt from the Aton Monastery Instead of In Vitro” means that journalists should consider such delicate topics with greater attention.

The second positive category in the rating is dedicated to Articles based on original topics, which have stayed away from the media spotlight. With this category we want to encourage the journalist who search for topics “out of the box” regardless of the limited financial resources during a period of crisis. Here we acknowledge the work of Neva Micheva for her series of articles dedicated to the foreign cultures in the newspapers “Capital Weekly” and “Kultura” together with Svetla Encheva for her persistent withstanding of the civil point of view as well as her materials in “Neuyten blog”(“Uncosy blog”) (http://svetlaen.blogspot.com) covering the problems of refugees and foreigners, who do not have a legal status in Bulgaria. The publication by Konstantin Pavlov-Komitata for his blog, named “The fair elections of Tsvetan Tsvetanov” (the Minister of Interior of Bulgaria), in which the author raises substantial questions about the legitimacy of the municipal and presidential elections in 2011 is an excellent example of high-level civic journalism.

In the category for Outstanding contribution for sustaining high standards in the Bulgarian media sector we would like to honour the “Hristo Botev” channel of the Bulgarian National Radio. In times of growing commercialization of the media, the National Radio manages to maintain its function of a public media and offers a program which is not aimed at pursuing economic interest. On the contrary, it spends resources for cultural journalism and for covering important topics which, due to numerous reasons, stay away from the private media’s attention. We believe that the Bulgarian National Radio strengthens its position as one of the most independent big media, which, regardless of being financed by the state budget, keeps being critical and uncompromising when it comes to the public authorities.

We also find it important to mention here the website www.reduta.bg which marks the rising of a new wave of independent journalism during the last year. For her contribution to the high standards and the freedom of expression in Bulgarian media we would like to acknowledge the journalist Luboslava Rousseva. We also want to acclaim the persistence and high responsibility of Rossen Bossev, a journalist from “Capital Weekly”, shown in his coverage of the problems of the Bulgarian judicial system during the last year.

Finally, in the category for Outstanding contribution for deteriorating the Bulgarian media sector we give the first place to New Bulgarian Media Group. We find particularly alarming the suspicions that the media, behind whose ownership is Irena Krasteva and her son Delyan Peevski, a MP for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms political party, are being biased in their editorial policies. It is hard to explain how the undoubted support for the ruling party GERB, which is a political opponent of Peevski’s party, took the place of the same definitiveness, with which the same media group was attacking the current authorities before they came into power in 2009. We cannot stay indifferent to the disclosures that the public institutions generously support the bank which directly finances the trust of Krasteva and Peevski, which continues its expansion and threatens the Bulgarian media market with monopolization.