Reporters at the daily coronavirus briefing by Crisis Staff members were told that journalists were doing their job well and should be asking questions.
Epidemiologist Predrag Kon replied to a question about the situation in the Vojvodina Clinical Center saying that it’s better for the doctors at the daily briefings to be asked about the situation even if they don’t know the answer.
„We check every report that we get from you,“ Kon told the daily news briefing.
The Vojvodina Clinical Center drew attention last week following a story on the Nova.rs portal which said that there were shortages of protective equipment at that hospital. The hospital management reported journalist Ana Lalic to the police and she spent a night in jail amid an outcry over the arrest. The Serbian government decided the next day to revoke its decree which limited the release of information about the pandemic to the Crisis Staff.
„Incorrect reports, especially when we are pressed for time, cause problems. That does not mean that questions should not be asked. It’s better if we say we don’t know and come back with the right information than to believe someone who might be afraid of shortages… It’s better to ask us here, perhaps we would be embarrased, but it would be right,“ Kon said.
Dr Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, deputy chief of the Batut Public Health Institute, said that journalists are a vital link in providing timely information.
„We meet journalists every day. This is our important job because journalists are a vital link but only if the information is reported on time and if it is true,“ she said.She said that the doctors on the Crisis Staff are open to questions but were never asked about the Vojvodina Clinical Center.
„That information was easily verified and we spent a few hours on going there, seeing things, needlessly wasting energy because someone published information which was not right,“ she said.