The Coalition for the Freedom of the Media asked on Nov. 30 based on which criterion was Tanjug selected for the first Pan-European Newsroom and called on the participants to reexamine their decision.

The Coalition released a statement pointing to Tanjug's "damaged reputation" and responsibility "for degrading professional and ethical standards," as well as its tight cooperation with the authorities, the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia reported. In the statement, the Coalition said that it was protesting after a report carried by the media on the creation of the "first pan-European newsroom" by the European Commission and Tanjug's inclusion in it.

According to available information, the newsroom will consist of reporters from 16 news agencies from around Europe, which will cover processes in relation to the EU and start out in mid-2022. Serbia will be represented by the Tanjug news agency in this network, the Coalition said.

The Coalition recalled that Tanjug was an outlet that was notorious for its close ties to ruling structures in Serbia. "In addition to enjoying a privileged position in the distribution of various budget funds, Tanjug has been working for years despite a Serbian government act," the statement said.

The Coalition went on to say that Tanjug was supposed to stop operations in October 2015 but that it continued to work and release reports for a full five years after that "with the blessing of the state leadership." "After some legal acrobatics, the Tanjug brand was bought by the Tacno company, owned by vocalist Zeljko Joksimovic, for a period of ten years," the Coalition added.

The Coalition said it was asking the European Commission to tell it "how is it possible that it is ready to work with Tanjug which manufactured untrue reports in the interests of politicians and parties and not precise news in the interest of citizens?" The statement also pointed to Tanjug's "degraded reputation." "How is it possible that Tanjug has become a part of a long-term project worth EUR1.76 million, while the agency's reputation had been badly degraded because it directly participated in undermining democracy?" the Coalition asked.

It also said that Tanjug was responsible "for debasing the ethical standards of the profession." The Coalition called on "the participants of the project to revisit their decision and assess all of the facts regarding the operation of this media outlet" and think about whether the information that it reports as part of said European network will continue to be relevant and desirable.

The Coalition for the Freedom of the Media consists of the Association of Media, the Association of Online Media, the Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina, the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia, the Association of Local and Independent Media Local Press Business Association, and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation.

Source: Coalition for the Freedom of the Media