Jelena Zoric, N1 Belgrade TV reporter, received on Friday the Independent Association of Serbia’s Journalists (NUNS) ‘Dejan Anastasijevic’ award for her achievements in investigative journalism.
She was awarded for her TV story “Jovanjica Indictment,” about the largest marijuana plant in Europe, according to the two indictment brought against people involved.
“This is a great honour since it bears the name of our (late) colleague Dejan Anastasijevic,” Zoric said.
„I see this award also as great recognition for all brave police officers, prosecutors and judges who are fighting against organised crime, drug trafficking, but also aginst attacks on journalists despite all pressures they are exposed to. They are the guardians of institutions in Serbia, Zoric added.
The other winners included Natalija Jovanovic of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) for online journalism and Sandra Petrusic of the independent NIN weekly for press reporting.
Zeljko Bodrozic, NUNS president, said the journalists are fighting in recent years for something that was achieved after the 2000 democratic changes.”
However, he added, the colleagues, inspired by freedom and truth, “did some great things last year.”
“They are the reason for us not to give up in fighting for freedoms and we believe it can be better in this country,” Bodrozic said.
The US ambassador to Serbia, Antony Godfrey, presented the awards, saying that “democracy flourishes on ideas and innovations, and it withers when they are suffocated or ignored.”
„While independent journalism is under threat, some tabloids and some TV channels are making good money by placing conspiracy theories and lies about the US and the EU, while at the same time promoting friendship with countries where independent journalism and freedom of speech are punished as crimes, where contracts and decisions on spending state money are under a veil of secrecy, where corruption and cronies reign and dissidents end up in prison or the grave,“ Godfrey said.
He added investigative journalism was not an enemy of the state and called on independent media organisations to return to the dialogue on media freedom in Serbia
„When journalists point out problems, it is like prevention – for the health of democracy. You can ignore it, but at your own risk, „Godfrey said.