Bulgarian Print Media 'Censored' 16 Important News Topics - NGO

Society | July 12, 2012, Thursday // 18:05
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Print Media 'Censored' 16 Important News Topics - NGO Photo by bnr.bg

A survey conducted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) has shed light on the most frequently silenced and censored issues in Bulgarian print media.

According to the findings of the media researchers, the issues that most often failed to get sufficient coverage were the allegations of Wikileaks about Bulgarian banks being "rotten apples", the suspicions about Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's shady past and the unclear origin of the wealth of Borisov's former girlfriend, Tsvetelina Borislavova.

According to Ivo Indzhov, media researcher and head of the "Taboo Topics in Print Media – Civil Monitoring" project, the rights of Bulgarian citizens to stay informed about important people, events and processes was violated as the press neglected a total of 16 topics of social significance.

The monitoring covered materials from 2011 published by 10 newspapers – Telegraph, Monitor, Standard, Novinar, Trud, 24 Hours Daily, Sega, Dnevnik, Capital and 168 Hours.

The results indicated insufficient or nonexistent media attention regarding issues related to the personality and the circle of friends of the Prime Minister.

Bulgarian print media also failed to provide sufficient coverage of Borisov's allegedly suspicious past and the origins of the wealth of his former girlfriend, Tsvetelina Borislavova.

According to Indzhov, the scant newspaper coverage of information published by Wikileaks about the "rotten apples" in the Bulgarian banking system is due to the fact that print media are largely dependent on banks as a major advertiser.

Other topics that received scant print media attention were a video showing former District Governor and current Plovdiv Mayor Ivan Totev instructing members of sectional electoral commissions how to render "enemy" ballots invalid and a series of questionable appointments in the judiciary (except the appointment of Vladimira Yaneva, close friend of Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, as Sofia City Court Chair).

Bulgarian print media also failed to initiate constructive debate on the topic of shale gas exploration and production and the development of nuclear energy in the country, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, problems related to Roma crime and discriminatory violence against homosexuals persistently received negative and stereotypical coverage.

The following issues were assessed as having been underdeveloped by Bulgarian newspaper journalists: the Bulgarian government and the EU's role as an advertiser in the media, the inaccessible environment for people with disabilities, a recommendation of the parliamentary subcommittee on special surveillance devices control, police brutality, the scandalous "Alley One" construction project in the Sea Garden of the Black Sea city of Varna, the preparation for the adoption of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the allegations of Bulgaria-based NGOs receiving state subsidies.

A total of 18 to 20 of the 22 topics were estimated as "rather taboo" in the newspapers Telegraph, Monitor, Standard, Novinar and 168 Hours, while around half of the topics were assessed as "rather not taboo: in  Trud (13), 24 Hours (9) Sega (9) Dnevnik (1) and Capital (9).

The 22 neglected topics in print media were proposed by experts in different fields, including representatives of NGOs, media researchers, political scientists, legal experts and journalists.

Out of 55 topics initially suggested, the organizers selected 22 as the ones that most affected readers' rights to be informed.

After that, a team of seven students and two lecturers from the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski went through all of the abovementioned newspaper issues from 2011 to examine their coverage of the selected "taboo" topics.

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Tags: Friedrich Naumann Foundation, media freedom, print media, taboo, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Tsvetelina Borislavova, Varna, Alley One, Wikileaks, special surveillance devices, election fraud, Ivan Totev, Plovdiv, ACTA, NGOs
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