Almost 50 Slovenian journalists were slammed by the Association of Slovenian Journalists’ ethics group for their reporting on a sex tape and the suicide of a school principal.
“As many as 12 media outlets acted wrongfully, which shows that the level of ethics in Slovenian journalism is not adequate,” ethics chair Ranka Ivelja said, according to Slovenian news wire STA.
Despite public criticism by the association, the journalists weren’t penalized because the group “does not have the authority to mete out any sanctions,” STA reported. Špela Stare, the general secretary for the Association of Journalists told iMediaEthics that its rulings “are just opinions of its 12 members, they don’t have any other [punishment] except moral consequences.”
Specifically, the association ruled the journalists invaded the privacy of the people involved, broke guidelines for reporting on suicide and reporting on the topic even though it wasn’t in the public interest, STA reported.
In question was reporting by the 48 journalists on the November 2014 suicide of a school principal. Students at the school video-taped him “having sex with a teacher on school premises” and posted it online. After the media began a “frenzy,” the principal was found dead by suicide.
“Ivelja said this was therefore a plea of conscience, but she was quick to point out that any changes to reporting standards were unlikely given that replies by journalists to the probe showed ‘they did not understand the lesson,'” STA reported.
The outlets seemingly stood by their coverage as, according to STA, Ivelja said that none of the journalists “apologised or voiced remorse.”
There are 12 reports on the association’s website pertaining to the coverage of the video and suicide — one for each outlet. Each outlet broke at least one of three standards in the association’s code— 12, 17 and 23. Those codes respectively are (translated via Google) “unfair methods of data collection,” invasion of privacy, and reporting on suicide.
- “Journalist may not use unfair methods of data collection. If that information provided to the public of the utmost importance, can not be obtained otherwise, their behavior and the reasons for it to the public”
- “Journalist respects the individual’s right to privacy and avoid sensationalistic and unjustified disclosure of his or her privacy in public. The interference with the privacy of an individual is eligible only if the public interest outweighs the respect for his privacy. In reporting on public figures and those seeking power and influence and attention, the public’s right to know the width. The journalist should be aware that the collection and publication of information, photos and videos damage to individuals who are not accustomed to media and public attention”
- “Public interest. In doing so, the causes and circumstances of the suicide or attempted suicide indicates caution. Does not specify the method and place of the incident. The identity of the person who has committed or attempted to commit suicide, to disclose only if there is a public interest. The exception is reporting on historical subjects”
The outlets (rulings linked) are:
- Radio 1
- Kanal A
- Tjasa Slokar
- TV Slovenia
- Planet TV
- Radio Aktual
The association’s ethics council was created back in the 1950s and has been a self-regulatory body since 1991, the association’s Stare told IMediaEthics.
“The Council is completely independent in its process of examining the complaints lodged due to alleged violations of the Ethics Code. It consists of 9 journalists and 2 representatives of the public,” Stare wrote, adding that members are volunteers. Last year the council “received 72 cmoplaints, and the number is rising each year which indicates that the Council has ood reputation in public,” Stare commented.
Stare pointed iMediaEthics to its website razsodisce.org, which has more information about the council, its complaints process and rulings.