Round table: quality journalism depends on us

Doing quality journalism depends to a great extent on us came as a key message during the discussion ‘Strengthening independent journalism in public interest’. The topics that became a major part of the debate first among the journalists and academics and then with the comments from the public were connected with the possibilities for regulation and self-regulation of media, the role of the journalists as a group of professionals, journalism education, media literacy of the audience and the economic dimension of all these problems. 

On the topic of regulation and self-regulation prof. Nelly Ognyanova pointed out that there are tasks that can be completely left to self-regulation, but there are also tasks more connected with co-regulation and cannot be performed without some support from the government. She described four fields where criteria should be developed with the help of journalists so that the media business could use public funding. These are: fund 'Culture' as a main distributor of funds from the budget in which ‘Media’ division should be created; allocation of state and municipal funds to media where clear rules should be established; transparency in the use of funds for the information campaigns on European programs; and the new Operational programs which again have a part about media.

On the topic of self-regulation Alexey Lazarov added it is implemented as self-regulation of the publishers which is what causes the main part of the problems. Lazarov shared that self-regulation makes sense and actually works when a critical mass of people organizes and agrees upon creating between each other rules it will comply with. The group will also impose sanctions on those who sometimes violate the rules. Venelin Petkov expressed skepticism towards such self-regulatory initiatives by stating as a main problem that the people who take part in this professional field do not trust each other. For people to be able to get out of the natural state where everyone is against everyone the alternatives are either imposing state guarantees to keep them, or we should be headed towards self-regulation pointed the political scientist dr. Ruzha Smilova. 

The discussion ‘Strengthening independent journalism in public interest’ was held on 21.11.2014 and academics, journalists, students, representatives of the civil society took part in it. The event was held by BlueLink at the Centre for culture and debate ‘Red house’. It was moderated by dr. Pavel Antonov, executive editor of BlueLink, and the main presenters were the media law expert prof. Nelly Ognyanova, the political scientist Ruzha Smilova, Venelin Petkov, director of ‘News, current affairs and sport’ on bTV and Alexey Lazarov, deputy editor of the newspaper ‘Capital’. Civic activists and the co-founders of were among the participants.

The round table was part of the activities implemented by BlueLink in partnership with the Earth Journalism Network of Internews. The event will be followed by the publication of a report, listing the specific ideas and proposals mentioned during the discussions. You can expect the text on www. The event was part of the one-day forum ‘Time for action’, organized by BlueLink for a second year. The forum included a number of discussions and presentations of projects the results of which frame the action ares of in the next few years. The elements of the program included:

Presentation of a report about surveillance in Bulgaria. You can read the text in Bulgarian HERE.

Introduction to the global issue of the report you can read in Bulgarian HERE.

Details about the full program of ‘Time for action’ can be found HERE.

The event was followed by the annual award ceremony of Foundation BlueLink – ‘Sviboden elektron’.