This article presents the major findings from the first phase of a 2005 project designed to improve police-media relations in Serbia's transition from an autocratic regime to democracy.
After the democratic changes in Serbia (October 5, 2000), police reform was one of the priorities of the new government. The general aim of the police reform was to create a professional, depoliticized police responsible for law enforcement and the protection of human rights and freedoms. Since the first democratic government was committed to good relations with the media, this became a focus of reform; however, many problems from the previous period persist, such that a coherent, comprehensive strategy in police-media relations is still absent. The Serbian police remain centralized, politicized, and unprofessional. Also, there are many new and privately owned media searching for sensational stories, and some media are owned by wealthy individuals with political ambitions. The level of journalistic quality is low, and there is a sense that objective reporting is declining. Unevenness in the process of reform of the Ministry of Interior has hampered the development of systematic solutions that could assist in improving communication between the media and the police. The main problems are a lack of strategy for police-media relations, vague procedures for daily police dealings with the media, lack of technical communication equipment, imprecise regulation for the withholding of data, inaccurate reporting, untrained journalists/editors who cover police work, and officers who are uninformed about professional communications with the media. 16 references
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