The BH Journalists Association Steering Committee strongly condemned “hate speech and political pressure” coming from Bosnia’s main Bosniak ethnic party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), directed at Face Television and its founder and editor, Senad Hadzifejzovic.
“The political pressures of Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and key people from this party on Face TV and Senad Hadzifejzovic personally, which have lasted for weeks, represent an illegal interference in the editorial policy of this media outlet and an organized chase aimed at targeting Hadzifejzovic and his media as “hostile”, anti-patriotic and propagandistic,” the BH Journalists Association said.
The association argued that Face Television’s critical reporting on the SDA and its leaders is being presented as false and as a “consequence of Hadzifejzovic’s “hurt vanity, anger or other motives”,” by the party.
“The organized SDA chase on Face TV was additionally supported by daily posts on social networks of sympathizers and members of this party, which were marked by hate speech, insults, swearing and threats addressed to Senad Hadzifejzovic, as well as attempts to discredit his personality and journalistic work in every way possible.”
The Steering Committee of BH Journalists said it considers such attacks and pressure a “brutal threat to the freedom of speech and work of the media” in the country which is orchestrated in order to silence all those who criticise the party and its officials.
“Online campaigns against journalists and independent media in BiH, which have exposed numerous scandals in the last year in public procurement, health care system, fake diplomas, political employments…, are frightening and represent open attempts by BiH political leaders and their henchmen to stifle free journalism in a democratic society, contrary to all the principles of the EU for which they declaratively stand!” the statement said.
However, the association also said it “wishes to draw the attention of Face TV and all other media outlets to the need of respecting journalistic ethics and professional standards, especially the principles of accurate, fair, decent and balanced reporting on leading persons of any political party, including SDA.”
“Fierce reactions and inappropriate vocabulary lead to some media and journalists themselves undermining their professional integrity, thus devaluing the legitimate criticism of public officials and their work, and especially the value of independent media as a corrective of social reality,” it said.
Still, the association stressed that “none of the above” could justify any kind of political pressure on the work of any media outlet or journalist, noting that “maintaining the principles of professionalism, objectivity, reasoned reporting and journalistic ethics is the best way to combat political influences on the media, hate speech and inflammatory rhetoric of party “bots” from social networks.”