Propaganda as the enemy, communication as the ally of the media

Posted by Aleksandra Hristov on September 21st, 2019 under Articles | 1 Comment »

This article was published on September 19, 2019, in Novi Magazin, Serbian weekly. Ms. Aleksandra Hristov, the director of Hristov Consulting, a certified consulting firm for communication strategy and education in that area has spoken about the illicit connection between various actors in the society and the media that exists for years and makes it difficult to be independent and work in the public interest. This same matter was also commented by Mr. Dragan Janjic, the chief editor of Beta media agency-

Following is the article in its integral version:

“Propaganda as the enemy, communication as the ally of the media”

The cooperation of the media and the public relations sector naturally influences the newspaper texts that are reaching the public on a daily basis. However, the ethical and the judicial boundaries that are meant to protect the public interest during that cooperation are overlooked all too often. The companies, organizations, institutions, political parties, and individuals that appear in public and are influencing truthful and objective informing instead of protecting the public, and they become themselves the tools of disseminating untrue data in creation of the distorted picture of the reality.

“The media and the Public Relations (PR) are two different jobs, with different priorities. The media, journalists and the chief editors, should emphasize their task of protecting the public interest, whereas PR offices want to promote the corporate or organization’s interests for which they are working. In any case, the public interest should be cared for, with the awareness that with some professions such as journalists and public agencies such interest should be the first priority. That is nothing unusual as this is done this way throughout the world. The problems arise when different roles, and the priority goals get mingled, and when the media agrees to put, instead of the public interest, the interest of the company or organization served by its PR, on the first place. That happens either by mistake, when the journalists and the chief editors do not recognize that the public and corporate, organizational interests diverge, or when they do it deliberately”, says Mr. Dragan Janjic, the chief editor of the media agency Beta.

According to his assessment, in the first case, when the mistake was accidental, things can be fixed relatively easily, however, in the second case we are witnessing a potentially dangerous collusion that can be detrimental to the society and damage the public interest. “The drastic example with the tragic consequences occurred recently, during the 1990-ies, when the propaganda machineries of the sides in the war conflict in the former Yugoslavia acted as the deliberate war mongering vehicles, and the majority of the media was transmitting whatever was served to them”, Mr. Janjic reminded us.

The task of the PR sector that is representing the companies, organizations, institutions, political parties, and individuals should be, above all, to communicate with the media that are free from the pressure related to their media business. In practice that means that the task of the PR is to enable the free communication between the media and PR clients, to provide them with the truthful information, while media has the obligation to check all the facts, ant to release to the public the information that is important to the public interest.

Ms. Aleksandra Hristov, CMC, internationally certified business consultant in the area of the public communication, believes that the practice of the illicit collusion between various actors in society and media exists for years, and must be stopped immediately. “It is truly important that the media and PR sector become aware that at any moment they have the obligation to work in accordance to law, ethical codes, and international standards. This is the only way to avoid the errors that can be dangerous to the public interest”, says Ms. Hristov.

According to her words, the PR sector has an obligation, moral and judicial, regardless of what it does for the client or the boss, to respect the facts, truthful data, therefore the public interest, as it is always meant to be the case with the media in general. “In that business, the media and the PR should be allies”, added Ms. Hristov.

The mainstream media domestically (in Serbia and the region) and in the world are going through the crisis, trying to adjust to the digital age and endless competition brought by the internet. That competition, no doubt, has not brought the quality yet. However, it brought the high dependence of the media on advertisers, and those want to send their propaganda messages not only through the classical advertisements but also through the informative content, albeit without the professional journalistic handling of the matter.

Answering the question whether the propaganda is the enemy of the enemy of the public interest, Mr. Dragan Janjic believes that it is not always the case, because the propaganda is the tool for dissemination of any particular ideas or messages . “When the ideas or the messages are those that are indeed in the public interest, propaganda is allowed even in the media. Therefore, PR can help the media and the public reach various information content with the positive effect to individuals and society, however, the contrary is also possible. The main transmitter of the information is the media, and they should be the filter and the guarantor that everything stays within the perimeter of public interest”, says Mr. Janjic.

With this theme he is in agreement with Ms. Aleksandra Hristov who points out that we are often confronted with the public campaigns that are surely in public interest. “There is no problem when the organizations and businesses want to promote their results and community service based on facts. Serbia has PR outlets that are perfectly equipped and creative to handle such campaigns. The media, very often has ear for such campaigns. The problem arises when the client does not realize that his particular narrow interest is not in public interest, and as a consequence, some PR sectors start propagating the falsehood. That is not an allowed behavior by the PR, and the media itself before anyone, must react and deny such propaganda the media space without fear such action can produce the financial harm on them”, adds Ms. Hristov.

In any case, much work remains to be done in defining both better and clearer rules for the PR and media relationship. Implementing the laws and professional codes of conduct pertaining to media and PR is the key that should bring the quality to this area. Mr. Janjic emphasizes it would be ideal to somehow separate these things, if PR activities could be centered on drawing the attention to the importance of some product, idea or decision, without the indirect or direct influence of the companies or organizations on media business policy.

One thing that should be excluded from this two way communication between the media and PR is the blackmail, that if the media filters the PR content, it loses the client who pays the advertizing space. Furthermore, it should become unacceptable that the media without any checking or sanctions releases the false information whereby misleading the public and hurting the wider interest. The step toward respecting the clear professional rules is needed on both sides. This is in every citizen’s and wider public interest.

The article is part of the project “Propaganda as the enemy, communication as the ally of the media”, that is going to include the analysis of the conditions in this area through the opinion articles from the PR experts, and journalists contributing their views and own case studies. Through this project weekly Novi Magazin wants to promote the awareness about the importance of the media laws and professional codes of conduct implementation, including the imperative of applying the international standards in the media and PR interactions regardless of their own relationships with the political parties and businesses. Novi Magazin project is financed by the Embassy of the United States of America in Belgrade, Serbia.

Five years of notary public profession in Serbia

Posted by Aleksandra Hristov on September 14th, 2019 under Events | No Comments »

Notary Public profession has succeeded in its primary function to protect the rights of its clients, increase the efficiency and control of the legal transactions, and to lessen the burden on the judicial system, all stated at the Celebration academy on the occasion of the fifth anniversary since first notaries public had opened their offices in Serbia.
In the presence of the minister of justice of Serbia, Ms. Nela Kuburovic, invitees from the judicial bodies of Serbia and the region, delegations from the notary public organizations and chambers, the president of the Notary Public Chamber of Serbia (NPCS), Mr. Srbislav Cvejic has pointed out that the notaries public have achieved within the past five years the outstanding results, and today we can say that the introduction of the notary public profession has improved the legal security of the citizens of Serbia.
The minister of Justice of Serbia, Ms. Nela Kuburovic, representing the government of Serbia and the ministry of justice, has personally congratulated the jubilee to notaries public, and added “with certainty we can say that the notaries public had fulfilled the expectations, and significantly lessened the burden on the courts, including increasing the legal security to higher level”.
Ms. Kuburovic highlighted that we are presently witnessing the widening of the perimeter of work of the notaries public, the consequence of their current scope of activity being done conscientiously and responsibly. She has also underlined the role and the advancement of the notary public profession during the last year, when many things have changed, and the notaries public have gained the access to many public official registries.
According to her, the notaries public will face many challenges in the future, especially in the area of implementing the Law of privacy protection.
“Your work and professionalism shall determine your stature and the future of notary public trade, and the Ministry of Justice shall strive to give you all the help necessary”, said Ms. Kuburovic.
The president of the NPCS stated that the notaries public of Serbia, in five years, have done 8,167,075 legal cases for which they were duly empowered. “Out of the respectable number of legal jobs, the vast majority are notary public authentications, numbering 6,705,983, and solemnizations of documents, numbering 871,768”, added Mr. Cvejic. According to him, thanks to the work of the notaries public, the double selling of real estate has dramatically decreased including the legal actions related to contractual transactions. Reminding that the Law of notary public profession has been brought in May 2011, and after two delays in implementation, finally became official in September of 2014, Mr. Cvejic has added that the beginnings were difficult, but the NPCS received the stable and clear support, above all, from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia.
At this time, in 198 notary public offices in Serbia, in addition to 198 notaries public, employed are 1,226 individuals, among them 69 notary public deputies, 90 notary public assistants, 450 apprentices, and 618 administrative staff. Following the Guidelines jointly issued by the Ministry of Justice and the High Court of Cassation in 2016, we witness the substantial increase in receiving the inheritance proceedings, so the notaries public so far had 362,808 such cases, half of which are the cases of putting together the official death notices.
The statistical data shows that on 173,218 inheritance cases solved there were 718 complaints filed, only 0,4 percentage points. The change occurred only in 31 inheritance cases. “This truly speaks volumes about the high quality of our notary public service. With pleasure we can say that the inheritance cases are handled efficiently, and the citizens are able to exercise their rights in the shortest time, proof that this whole system has significantly improved”, Mr. Cvejic pointed out.
According to the available data, notaries public, during this past Summer from June 01, until July 15, had done 122,031 free of charge notarizations of the documents needed for the enrollments into the High schools and universities. Mr. Cvejic has stated that the role of the notaries public has especially come to prominence since the Law of Real Estate Titles and Infrastructure Titles was brought. This law mandates that the notaries public beginning on July 01, 2018, can electronically send such Titles to the government agencies to be put on the official record.
“This procedure additionally secures the rights of the citizens by diminishing the possibility of officially recording the titles based on the falsified documents”, said the president of the NPCS. Furthermore, the president of the NPCS has also highlighted the big help that the notaries public of Serbia had from their colleagues from Europe and the world including the international organizations. “We lacked the wireless experience, but the biggest and the oldest notary organizations had selflessly shared their knowledge and achievements with us”, added Mr. Cvejic.
As the matter of the outmost importance, Mr. Cveic emphasized that, in October 2016, the NPCS  has become the 87th full member of the International Union of Notaries (UINL), and in June 2017 became the member of the  Notaries of Europe (CNUE) in the capacity of the member observer. The Serbian Chamber got the access to the European Notary Network (ENN) that enables the connection of the notaries from Serbia with their colleagues from the other European chambers.
At the Celebration academy the Thank you Plaques of the NPCS have been distributed to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia, High Commission of the notaries of France, Notary Chamber of Germany, and to the notary public from France, Mr. Stefan Zecevic. Whereas, the Plaques of NPCS have been presented to the law professor at the University of Belgrade, Mr. Dejan Djurdjevic, to the first president of NPKS, Mr. Miodrag Djukanovic, and to the notary public from Belgrade, Ms. Natalija Adzic.
Whereas, the plaques of the NPCS have additionally been given to the representatives of the notary chambers from Republic Srpska of Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Germany, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Russia.

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