Day of Silence: Today we pay tribute to colleagues who lost their lives because of the word and image they published
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Translation: Fairpress
Exactly one week ago at 11:30 began a massacre at the premises of the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were killed, ten journalists and cartoonists and two police officers who guarded them.
Croatian media have today at 11.30 darkened their screens and stopped disseminating information in order to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris, but also all others who were killed around the world because they advocated for the freedom of expression.
Almost all media joined the action, darkened their screens, muted their on air broadcast and briefly stopped with publication of information with the aim to point at how the world would look like without journalists, media and information that they transfer to public.

DayOfSilence

“Croatian media and journalists have, with this joint initiative, expressed their solidarity and opted for freedom of expression,” said the President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association, Zdenko Duka.

The Day of Silence was organized as well in Macedonia and BiH, also with the support of organizations which are a part of the project MEDIA CIRCLE – Civic Response to Clientelism in Media. Fairpress.eu portal, created as a part of the aforementioned project, broadcasted for an hour only the following message:

Today we pay tribute to colleagues who lost their lives because of the word and image they published. Today we want to clearly state that force and violence cannot be used against free thought and free speech. Today we want to point out how our world would look like without journalists, media and information.

Although the purpose of the Day of Silence was to send a positive message of solidarity and importance of media and freedom of expression for the development of society and democracy, critics were not lacking. Mainly through social networks and anonymous comments on news sites, the media has been criticized for “selective solidarity” and underestimation of victims of terrorist attacks in Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan … Even the media began to question why the 12 killed in Paris received so much media space, and for 2000 people killed in Nigeria almost noone knew for days.

“These criticisms are justified. We have become a Eurocentric, self-directed. In a way it is human. People mainly show solidarity with their loved ones and close space. We have lost a world perspective and response to events all over the world. We are used to boats that float without crew. This should be changed, “says the President of HND.

There is no doubt that each victim is a tragedy. But

the event in Paris was not just an attack on persons, journalists, cartoonists, media … It is an attack on freedom of expression, universal human right and the foundation of existence of democracy. With all the flaws that the media have, they still are, if not the only then at least the most important, mediators between the government and the people, a source of information and a control mechanism for all those who manage public resources. If there were no media, who would disseminate the information about the victims in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria or anywhere else? Therefore, media freedom and freedom of speech, thought and expression is something we should fight for.

“I do not remember that we ever had this type of action that has had such a large turnout and in which the publication stopped. A similar solidarity, but without ceasing to work, was only a common boycott of the initiative In the Name of the Family, which declined to issue accreditation to certain media to monitor the results of the referendum on marriage in November 2013. Then the same solidarity was expressed. We can expect from the media to stand together as well in future, especially when threatened from outside”, states Duka.

But the media is not jeopardized only from the outside. They are vulnerable from the inside as well. Clientelism, non-transparent ownership and undue influence of the owners, economic instability, degradation of professional standards, self-censorship, bribery, sensationalism, infotainment, bias and all sorts of things. All of these are cancers of modern journalism. However, journalists in this situation do not show solidarity and do not fight for the profession.

“We failed. The economic situation is such that the media, espeially the printed media, deal with huge issues. Even more in the weak markets such as Croatian. The Ministry of Culture rejected the attempt to enact the media strategy and change the laws. Aside from reducing taxes, which was binded with the obligation to have media Statues, this government has not done enough to improve the situation in the media. The decrease in income has a negative impact on the quality of content and deteriorates professionalism. Unstable working arrangements cause fear and self-censorship. Journalist salaries have significantly decreased, more than the average for other occupations. However, the rebellion occurs only when things go so far that there is nothing more to lose. HND has reacted all these years. However, the question remains whether we could have done more, “explains Duka.

On the Day of Silence at 11:30 all four channels of HRT (Croatian National Television), web portal and teletext ceased to broadcast content, and radio channels supported the action by reading texts in memory of deceased journalists at noon. They were joined by Nova TV, RTL and N1 Television, as well as news portals Vecernji, Jutarnji and Novi List, 24sata and Slobodna Dalmacija, as well as Index, Net, Tportal, Dalje, Radio Dalmacija, 101, Soundset, Otvoreni, and others. They darkened their screens, muted their airs and briefly stopped publishing. The media and journalists have in that way paid respect to the victims and condemned the violence against freedom of expression. It now remains to warn as loudly and firmly on the threats within the media themselves.

 

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