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    Media and Public Credibility: People who Work for Clicks

    The Press Council in BiH

     “Responsible media and responsible journalists must find the right balance”


     Author: Berislav Jurić

     “We often think about how we are becoming people who work for clicks. Maybe they will come up with a new name for such work,” wrote Marija Arnautović, commenting one of the many sprints towards clicks the media are resorting too. They are violating rules, destroying human faiths, genres and colleagues. The goals sometimes have no justification or reason, to be faster and first, the goal is to lure and keep the readers, and then, with the growth of those who bit the titles and bates, catch a piece of the marketing pie.

    Mehmed Halilović, attorney and media expert says that “chasing” clicks is a “big challenge and an (un)predictable danger for online media”: “On one hand, it enables acquisition of certain funds without which there is no survival, on the other hand - when it becomes a goal within itself and when there are no limits on hate speech, it starts to determine the credibility and turn into a great evil”, says Halilović emphasizing that responsible media and responsible journalists must find the right balance.

    Andrijana Pisarević, editor in chief of the portal, also says that the chase for clicks and attempts to reach an ever bigger number of readers created big challenges for journalists. But she also feels that it is the superficial readers who are partly encouraging the media in this race: “The fight for clicks has definitely changed the concept of online media and made good use of the superficiality of a large number of readers who are drawn by titles, but not content of the article. Once they understand that readers are “hooked” only on the title, and that eventually one fifth reads more than the lead and the first claim, a large number of media houses, in the world and here alike, have built their popularity on sensationalism behind which there is no foundation of importance of the information itself,” says  Pisarević.

    She adds that the click-bate divided the expert public into those who think that a conscious deceit of readers is behind this, which causes great and serious negative consequences for journalists, and into those who maintain that it is just a small part of the changes taking place in the profession and the “paradigm of news”: “I feel that the truth is somewhere in between. The title is exceptionally important for drawing readers and every smart editor will make sure that it is as appealing as possible, to draw a larger number of them to read the article. But each one of us should have enough craftiness to be able to compose so that it does not have false information,” she stated, while emphasizing that a portion of media who resorted only on click bates lost a large part of readers.

    The project “Media and Public Credibility” is sponsored by the EU Delegation in BiH and implemented by a consortium of four media organizations, and it has the goal of passing the Law on Transparency of Media Ownership and Financing, as well as the Law on Advertising. These laws should regulate the problems of illegal portals, and solve a great deal of problems regarding hate speech in the online sphere.

    Halilović says that clicks and quality journalism can go hand in hand, but that this issue cannot be broken down to a black and white picture. Referring to reader comments, Halilović says: “If the online comments of readers are not of nationalistic nature, are not war rhetoric and hate speech, if they are not inciting, they are a very good instrument of public debate and can contribute to democratic processes. Only under the three conditions from the previous sentence, it is in the public interest to encourage such debate even if the comments are provocative, sharp and eve offensive,” said the former media Ombudsman.

    The Project “Media and Public Credibility” is supported by the EU Delegation in BiH, but the Delegation is not responsible for the content of this article.


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