Enough of politicians’ denigrating treatment of journalists!

  • 06.10.2022
  • UBJ

The Executive Board of the UBJ strongly condemns the behavior of Kostadin Kostadinov, as well as of all politicians who allow themselves to humiliate and attack journalists and the profession of journalism.

Another Bulgarian politician allowed himself this week to humiliate journalists and to make cheap publicity through a media scandal. Kostadin Kostadinov, the leader of the "Revival" party, demonstratively left a press conference convened by his own formation not anywhere but in the state-owned BTA news agency after he failed to expel a journalist of a media outlet he criticised who refused to leave despite his insistence.

The whole absurd situation can hardly be perceived as anything other than an ugly and primitive PR-action played on the back of the already severely denigrated Bulgarian journalism.

Kostadinov is a politician, he has also been elected as an MP. If he does not like something in the current media landscape, in the characteristics of one or another media outlet, in media funding or in media legislation, he has all legitimate and democratic possibilities to propose changes in the media legislation and to seek parliamentary support for them. This is the civilised and legitimate way to deal with such cases.

But to brandish bombastic qualifications at press conferences, putting journalists working for one media outlet or another in a humiliating situation, is a gross assault on the rights, the honour and dignity of all journalists and their profession as a whole.

Kostadinov is undoubtedly unaware that it is not journalists who determine the funding, affiliations or (geo)political tendency of one or another media outlet. That's  how owners and publishers act all over the world. To hurl thunderous accusations against a journalist sent by his employer to cover a press conference and carry out his/her professional duties is a gross assault on that journalist and on the entire college.

The big trouble is that Kostadinov is far from being alone in such brutal treatment of journalists. Alas, this attitude it has been demonstrated for years at all political levels and it is deliberately denigrating our profession, which may include different people with different ethics but which is unquestionably among the foundations of democracy. It is hardly necessary to recall other typical examples, such as the notorious label "missirki" (turkeys), pasted by former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, publicly insulting not just one group  of reporters, but our entire profession, which has the duty to be a critical voice for every ruler and to defend the public interest.

Particularly dramatic is the situation of colleagues from regional media. They are subjected to unrestrained pressure, harassment, humiliation and direct threats and attacks by local "bigwigs". There are numbers cases of seriously threatened colleagues, which, however, rarely receive a nationwide response - whether because of crushing intimidation, or because of "comfortable" professional passivity?...

The Union of Bulgarian Journalists reaffirms its firm and unwavering stand in defence of the rights of journalists, guarantees for which we have included in our proposals for legislative changes submitted to the National Assembly five years ago. Proposals which have not been given the go ahead to this day...

We categorically condemn the behaviour of Kostadin Kostadinov and all politicians who afford themselves to humiliate and intimidate journalists and their  profession. Enough of politicians mocking journalists! We appeal for solidarity and mutual support among the college, for the defence of our common journalistic rights.

 

Executive Board of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists

October 6, 2022