Original article (in Serbian) was published on 12/02/2023
The editor-in-chief of Informer Dragan J. Vucicevic finally got the chance to appear on the Radio and Television of Serbia, after years of complaining in the media that he was “banned” from the public service. He may not have been able to make it to the RTS television studio, but he was a guest on Dragana Pejovic’s OKO magazine Bermudski trougao (Bermuda Triangle) podcast. During his guest appearance, he spoke about the media, his relations with his colleagues, Informer and other topics, and he also uttered several inaccurate information, the overview of which we bring to you in this analysis.
1 Does the project “Belgrade has money for all planned projects – record budget, never faster development” belong to Informer?
Host: You come to the Belgrade contest for media project co-financing with the project “Belgrade has money for all planned projects – record budget, never faster development” and you get two million.
Vucicevic: Who wins?
Vucicevic: Oh, and Informer should never get anything, Danas should get everything?
Host: No, I didn’t say that. But wait, here’s how you know it’s a record budget – never faster development in advance, before you…
Vucicevic: And what are you reading?
Host: Well, I’m reading, here, I just took it from last year…
Vucicevic: And what are you reading?
Host: What do you think I’m reading?
Vucicevic: No, no, where do you find that sentence, that “record development”?
Host: That’s the name of your project.
Vucicevic: Good, good, and where did you find that, where did you find that this is the name of our project?
Host: Well, on the city’s website. So, you have all the projects.
Vucicevic: On the city website? And what is our project? What did you say?
Host: “Belgrade has money for all planned projects – record budget, never faster development”
Vucicevic: You mixed something up, go and check that when we finish this. Look again. Then call me and tell me and write in the introductory text what we really did.
Vucicevic, therefore, claims that the host “mixed something up” and that the project with the controversial name she is talking about is not Informer’s. However, this is not entirely true. Co-financing for this project may not have been directly received by Insajder team d.o.o. (publisher of Informer), but the money still went to the tabloid.
As stated in the Decision on the distribution of funds according to the tender for co-financing projects for the production of media content in the field of public information in the territory of the city of Belgrade in 2022, a project worth two million dinars entitled “Belgrade has money for all planned projects – a record budget, never faster development” was received by the company Info IT media d. o. o.
When you look at the website of the Agency for Economic Registers (APR) which is behind this company, it is clear that the project belongs to Informer. Info IT media is registered at the address Terazije 5/7, where Informer’s editorial office is also located, the contact email in APR is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the 100% owner of the company is Insajder tim d.o.o. – that is, the publisher of Informer. At the same contest, Insajder team d.o.o. received 3.5 million dinars for the “Silent Heroes of Belgrade” project.
2 Is it true that “serious European, large, civilized countries” do not have journalistic codes?
Vucicevic: The only measure of journalism is viewership – the only objective measure.
Host: And the code, and the rules?
Vucicevic: And what does the code mean? And what rules? Well, please, Dragana, don’t let us talk about the code and rules because, believe me, we don’t need to talk about that.
Vucicevic: Well, because they are… I want to be polite today. Because it’s nonsense. What do codes and rules mean? You know that there are serious countries, serious European, big, civilized countries, that do not have such codes and rules?
Are there “serious, European, large, civilized countries” that do not have professional journalistic codes or rules? Despite Vucicevic’s opinion, the answer is negative. On the website of the Finnish multidisciplinary university Tempere, you can find a list of journalistic codes from 44 European countries, as well as journalistic codes from Kosovo and Catalonia. Among the countries whose codes are not listed at that address, the only micronations are Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican. With a further search, we even found the Code of San Marino, as well as a document that regulates ethics in communications in Vatican.
3 Is it true that the Informer never published the word “whore” on the front page?
Vucicevic: At the end of the 19th century, public lighting was installed in Belgrade for the first time, and the first public lamp was located where the Beogradjanka is now, so there were demonstrations against it under the explanation “what good is electric light to the honest world”. Electric light bulbs are only needed by – sorry for the expression, that’s what they used to say – whores and robbers. The honest world sleeps when it gets dark. That’s what they talked about.
Host: Well, why did you apologize for the expression you sometimes put on the front page, albeit with dots.
Vucicevic: Which one? “Whores”? We never put it on the front page. You are wrong. Well, you don’t read Informer. I find that you don’t read Informer at all.
Vucicevic claims that the word “whore” was never found on the front page of Informer, which also does not correspond to the truth. The editors of FN Tragac found that this word was on the front page of Informer several times in recent years. “They are lying, I’m not a whore”, “S. is a whore, a slut and a bitch, I’ll take her child”, “Your mother is a whore, and your father is a drug addict”, “Priest raped me, and my mother told me I was a whore”, are just some of the headlines on the front page of Informer which contain this word. In addition, there are no dots or any censorship of this word in any of the above titles, which Vucicevic says was never published on the cover of Informer.
4 Did Dragan Vucicevic call the war in Ukraine to be an aggression of Russia on the first day of the war?
Vucicevic: You see, on February 24, the war started last year, it will be a little more than a year. I happened to be at Pink that morning. Irina Vukotic was the host, and that morning I said what I’m telling you now. It is aggression and it is a terrible tragedy and we will suffer the consequences for years.
Another untruth that Vucicevic uttered refers to the fact that he called Russia’s attack on Ukraine aggression on the very first day on Pink’s morning program. Vucicevic is right when he says that he said it was a great tragedy, but he never called the Russian attack aggression. He mentioned the word aggression four times during the guest appearance, none of which was his own assessment of Russian actions. He spoke about NATO’s aggression against FR Yugoslavia, and at one point he stated that the NATO countries “will certainly ask us to take their side, to condemn Russia, or, as they say, Russian aggression”. He called Russian aggression a military operation, a crisis, a war, and the situation in Ukraine, but not aggression.
At one point, Vucicevic states Informer “will share all information (about the conflict in Ukraine) in the most objective possible way”. Only a few days earlier, the front page of this tabloid featured that “Ukraine attacked Russia”, and FN Tragac recorded more than ten fake news which appeared in Informer concerning the war in Ukraine and the circumstances surrounding it from the beginning of the war to this moment.