1 – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A JOURNALIST?
A journalist’s mission is to research and verify information, write it up, and publish it on some type of medium. Thus, first and foremost, a journalist is an author, a master of the written word. In addition, though, journalists have to do reporting, filming, interviewing, recording, photography, image editing, formatting, and more. The profession encompasses of a wide range of positions, such as editor-in-chief, international correspondent, editor, and video journalist. At the same time, journalists can choose to specialise (beat reporter, sports/economics/finance/political journalist, etc.).
Regardless of their medium or employer, journalists must follow a few basic rules (always check sources and facts, choose an angle to prioritise information, grab readers’ attention with a simple, lively, and direct style) and are bound by a strict and specific code of ethics (respect people’s dignity, think critically, verify sources, etc.).
A professional journalist is the title given to someone for whom journalism is a primary, regular, and remunerated occupation; works for one or more daily or periodical publications, for one or more news agencies, for radio, television, or online media; and for whom this work is their main source of income.
The work of journalists is vital for ensuring that the public is informed. In English, journalism is often called the Fourth Estate, and in other languages, the ‘fourth power’ alongside the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Since the media have uncovered so many political scandals, some governments try to control their country’s media outlets.
CASE IN POINT
KRIK: Example of an investigative news outlet in Serbia: https://www.krik.rs/
In Serbia, journalists at the investigative news outlet KRIK have documented many investigations into corruption and organised crime in their country. According to Jelena Radivojević, one of KRIK’s six journalists, in an interview with the Courrier des Balkans, editor-in-chief Stevan Dojcinović is the regular target of many particularly vicious attacks by the Serbian tabloids, which are funded by the authorities.
The journalist and her colleagues state that the government uses certain media outlets as a proxy to discredit the writing staff as a whole, and some of them personally, for example by accusing them of being ‘secret agents working for other countries’ or by publishing private photos.
Although the journalists have never been physically attacked, one reporter’s apartment was ransacked and death threats have been sent to the journalists via Facebook; the perpetrators were never investigated.
The case of KRIK highlights the risks of being a journalist and the obstacles to press freedom in Serbia and around the world.