More than half of the journalists in an anonymous survey carried out by Konrad Adenauer and Reporter foundations, the findings of which were presented on November 5, acknowledged that their media were under political pressure.
The authors of the survey, Kroum Blagov from Reporter foundation and Orlin Spassov from Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, said that 52 per cent of interviewees admitted to having been the targets of such pressure, while 40 per cent said that they had not, as quoted by news website Mediapool.bg.
The survey had 100 journalist respondents and 15 media owners. One in three journalists said that they had been the recipients of pressure from advertisers, as did half of the media owners, but only two media owners admitted to being under political pressure, the report said.
“Many Bulgarian journalists do not believe themselves independent. The reporting profession is not sufficiently protected from outside influence,” the report’s authors were quoted as saying.
A quarter of the journalists surveyed said that they had had stories suppressed and 30 per cent said that their stories were certain to be published only if they followed “guidelines set by the ownership”.
“This is self-censorship, which is a very worrisome practice,” Spassov said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
Bulgarian media owners saw their businesses as a way to exercise influence, not make a profit, Blagov said. “The problem is that these losses make them susceptible to being influenced,” he said, as quoted by BNR.
“One of the reasons [for the current state of Bulgarian media] is the difficult economic situation, but another reason is the lack of a consensus on the role of media in a democratic society,” Christian Spahr, director of the Konrad Adenauer foundation media programme for South-East Europe, said, as quoted by Mediapool.bg.
The authors of the report made several suggestions meant to improve the state of Bulgarian media, including improved regulations, guaranteeing equal access of all media to information, clear identification of paid publications, as well as more transparency, both with regards to state funding of media and media ownership.
(Photo: Griszka Niewiadomski/sxc.hu)