OpisMEDIJavanje: Any unverified information or half-truth can lead to major consequences


„A correspondent is a journalist who regularly prepares news, reports, and analyses for a media outlet located in another city or country. They are not journalists who specialize in a certain area. They follow all important events related to politics, culture, entertainment, or sports. They act independently, or as part of a correspondence office if there are several correspondents. They do not follow events only in the city where the correspondence office is located, but they cover a wider geographical area,“ WDR radio correspondent, Violeta Oroshi explained.

In the latest episode of the media literacy campaign “OpisMEDIJavanje,” Oroshi explained what correspondents are, how they work, and why they are important both for the media outlets they work for and the audience that follows them.

The media outlets that have correspondents are the media which the public trusts the most, Oroshi said, adding that the public is more informed precisely because of the work of correspondents.

„When it comes to the Western Balkans, correspondents from Brussels, The Hague, the United States, or some other center of political power are very important,“ she explained.

The contribution to informing, however, is going in the other direction, Oroshi explained, citing as an example the time she worked as a BBC correspondent from Kosovo in March 2010 reporting on a meeting between former UNMIK chief Bernard Kushner and Rada Trajkovic.

„Questions and answers related to the yellow house were in the focus of domestic and international media, but for me, as a BBC correspondent it was not enough, which is why I asked Rada Trajkovic for an interview. On that occasion, I learned that they discussed the possibility – behind closed doors – of organizing a conference or gathering which would be attended by officials from Serbia and Kosovo, where they would hold a discussion on defining their relations. At the time, this information was published only by the BBC,“ underlined Oroshi.

The role of a correspondent is particularly important in emergencies, whether they are the result of natural disasters or political and social crises. The correspondents are particularly important in war-affected areas.

„In the recent migrant crisis that affected the entire Europe, including the Western Balkans, or in the migrant crisis in Greece, correspondents managed to expose the most serious human rights violations. The correspondents also properly informed the public about the most difficult situations and tragedies during the war in Syria and the Middle East in general.“

According to Oroshi, that is why correspondents are in a position to reveal examples of human rights violations.

„I remember that sometime in 1991, a group of Montenegrin refugees from the village of Vrake in Albania arrived at a youth resort in Decani, and with the special permission of the police and an official escort, I went there and talked to those people and found out that during transport women and children had been separated from men. Although my interlocutors were very cordial, I felt something was missing, which is why I asked one of my interlocutors if she even knew where she was, that is, in which city, to which she replied that she was in the vicinity of Nis and that they promised her that she would, after several decades, meet her relatives tomorrow. It was important information for me, but also a signal for my official escort to stop the interview,“ Oroshi recalled, adding that it was an attempt to forcibly settle that group of people in Kosovo.

Inaccurate information or half-truths coming from a correspondent can damage interfaith or interethnic relations, but also the country from which the correspondent is reporting, Oroshi warned, adding that it is important to verify the news from several sources.

„Sometime in the 1990s, I was in the company of my colleagues who report for the international media, when information arrived that the Serb police had arrested a group of American diplomats on their way to Pec/Peja. New information kept arriving and my colleagues decided to report on this event. Unlike them, I wanted to wait in the hope that I would have much more information the next day. Due to the uproar and violent reactions to these reports of my colleagues, a group of American diplomats denied the reports, saying that they were pulled over by the Serb police, who checked their IDs. They denied that they were arrested; claiming that they continued on their way to Pec where they completed all planned activities. Unlike my colleagues, I did not have to deny my report, but the damage was done. Especially when you know how significance denials are,“ she said.

The KoSSev portal, in cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, launched a media literacy campaign. See what other journalists have had to say in the previous episodes of “OpisMEDIJavanje”:

OpisMEDIJavanje: You have the right to know what the institutions are doing

OpisMEDIJavanje: Young journalists rarely have the opportunity to work in professional newsrooms

OpisMEDIJavanje: Minority media in Kosovo are important but financially vulnerable

OpisMEDIJavanje: Even-steven, only in the interest of truth

OpisMEDIJavanje – A guide to the news you release into your world!

OpisMEDIJavanje: Fake news often lurks in headlines

OpisMEDIJavanje: Kosovo Serb journalists perceived as unfriendly and irrelevant

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