Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has ranked Serbia 76th among 180 countries, 10 places down from the last year's survey, causing an immediate reaction by Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic.
Vucic said it was important to him that the reporters in Serbia felt safe and that he agreed that a constant dialogue on problems in media was necessary.
However, he said that it was interesting that the RSF report mentioned a president who had no power in the area, commenting on a part saying that “under President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia has become a country where it is unsafe to be a journalist".
Vucic added that additional measures for protecting journalists would be taken and that he hoped that the RSF would be “more satisfied next year."
He referred to a part of the report that said that the safety situation was "clear from the alarming number of attacks on journalists that have not been investigated, solved, or punished, and the aggressive smear campaigns that pro-government media orchestrate against investigative reporters.”
In the RSF Index 2018 on media freedom published on Wednesday, Malta, Czech Republic and Slovakia were hand-in-hand with Serbia, all recording the worst fall in Europe and the world as a whole.
The regional countries that did better than Serbia included: Bosnia at the 62nd place, Croatia at 69th and Albania at 75th place, while lagging behind are Kosovo at the 78th place, Montenegro at 103rd and Macedonia as the 109th country on the list.
The report has said that Serbia wants to join the European Union, but that “for the time being it utterly fails to meet EU press freedom standards.”
“Some courageous journalists continue to cover dangerous subjects such as crime and corruption, but their stories are usually published by online media with a limited reach,” it said, adding that “collusion between politicians and media, a high level of ownership concentration, and a lack of pluralism in the print and broadcast media are also all sources of concern.”
Generally speaking, the RFS said that its Index 2018 showed the hatred of journalism threatened democracies.
“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion, the report said.
It added that “the United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters ‘enemies of the people,’ the term once used by Joseph Stalin.”