5 November 2020
Ethics of journalistic article and risk of collusion with judiciary
On Tuesday, 03 November 2020, journalist of web portal https://www.faktor.ba/ Mr Admir Drinjakovic telephoned the director of Korekt d.o.o., Mr Bojan Bajic asking if he was interested to answer several questions related to the Analysis in Delay of Construction of Sarajevo Tower Structure, and reactions of ANS Drive to the Analysis, and the following Korekt’s answer to the ANS Drive’s response.
Mr Bojan Bajic affirmed his interest and asked for the questions to be sent by e-mail, to which the journalist, Admir Drinjakovic, consented.
Further in this text, Korekt d.o.o. will publish the correspondence between Mr Admir Drinjakovic and Mr Bojan Bajic, which can be publicly published in view of ethical and professional standards, as it cannot be seen as private correspondence, but official instead. Additional justification for publishing of the correspondence lies in the fact that the said is an evidence that web portal Factor.ba had not had a genuine intention to objectively inform the public, but on the contrary; it can be an evidence showing that the text was a so called “drawing” untrue and not objective conclusions. Therefore, there is a public interest in informing the public with the lack of ethics in this particular piece of journalism.
INQUIRY BY FAKTOR.BA WEB PORTAL
Tuesday, 03 November, 12.21 hrs
“Dear Sir, I would most kindly like to ask you to send the answers to several questions:
- Is it correct that the Korekt d.o.o. has been established only mid past month, as claimed by the ANS Drive company?
- What is your comment to the allegations of the ANS Drive that the Korekt d.o.o. has no common ground with construction and that, according to their statements, your company cannot be credible in analysing this case?
- In your view, what is, in short, the essence of the problem related to Sarajevo Tower construction, so that deadline was broken more than a year ago?
- What would you advise to people who bought the flats or are paying them in instalments, who – based on everything at hand – will not be able to gain possession of their property this year, too?
Thanking you for your cooperation,
Tuesday, 03 November, 13.46 hrs
“Dear Mr Drinjakovic,
I am very interested to answer your question, but I would like to ask you to verify in writing that our answers will be transmitted to your web portal integrally and identically as written, and that you will provide us with the possibility to authorise the text prior to publishing.
I hope you do understand our request, with the aim of objective information of the public and to reduce the possibility of any mistake or ambiguity to the minimum.
Korekt d.o.o., Sarajevo
Tuesday, 03 November, 13.46 hrs
“I will get back to you as soon as I receive an answer from the editor. Regards”.
Tuesday, 03 November, 13.47 hrs
Tuesday, 03 November, 13.56 hrs
“Dear Sir, after having spoken with my editor in chief, I can verify that your answers will be transmitted on Faktor integrally and identically as you write them. As for the authorisation of the text, the Factor’s practice is not to do it outside of our media, and so will be the case now, as well. Regards”.
Tuesday, 03 November, 14.47 hrs
Due to inability to authorise (the text), I am unfortunately unable to respond to your questions.
Once again, thank you for your initiative.
Tuesday, 03 November, 14.49 hrs
End of correspondence.
What can be concluded from this correspondence?
Obviously, Korekt d.o.o. requested two things:
- Written verification, i.e. written promise that the Korekt’s responses will be transmitted to the Faktor.ba web portal integrally and identically as written;
- To provide for authorisation of text prior to publishing;
Korekt informed Faktor on the aim of these two requests, quote: ‘with the aim of objective information of public, and to reduce any possibility of a mistake or ambiguity to minimum’, from which it emerges that Korekt insists on these requests for one reason only, i.e. to provide for accurate and objective information of public and to reduce the risk of possible manipulation to zero.
The Korekt’s two requests are the so called two-level protection from the attempt of statement manipulation. The first protection is for the editor of Faktor to send a written promise that the Korekt’s statements will be transmitted accurately and integrally, and the other is to provide for authorisation of text, so that Korekt would check whether the journalist and editor of Faktor will keep their promise that they will transmit the statement fairly.
Before going into the analysis of the Faktor editor’s response to the requests of Korekt, we will quote the interpretation of the term “authorisation”, as we found in the respectable and widely known media, Media Centre from Sarajevo (Media.ba):
“Authorisation, i.e. verification of authenticity of a statement or text prior to publishing, is a globally accepted practice in a number of media, and whether it will be exercised or not depends on the agreement between a journalist and their interlocutor.
Accuracy and unequivocalness in transmitting what the interlocutor said is especially important for consistent and true journalistic work. In transmitting someone’s words, it could happen that we jeopardise the essence of what was initially said by wrong interpretation. In such a situation, the journalist can protect themselves seeking from the interlocutors to read the text or a part of text before publishing, but such a move is often a double-edged sword.”
The complete text is available on this link: https://www.media.ba/bs/magazin-novinarstvo/autorizacija-potvrda-ili-naknadna-pamet
The editor of Faktor positively responded to the first request of the Korekt and promised in writing that the responses would be transmitted integrally and identically as written, but the response to request for authorisation was negative: “Dear Sir, after having spoken with my editor in chief, I can verify that your answers will be transmitted on Faktor integrally and identically as you write them. As for the authorisation of the text, the Factor’s practice is not to do it outside of our media, and so will be the case now, as well. Regards”.
Conclusion of the Korekt d.o.o.: Up to this phase, we have no ethical problems with the text and honest approach in the actors’ behaviour, because Korekt d.o.o. had the right to request and the Faktor.ba had the right to deny the request for authorisation and there is nothing disputable there.
Korekt d.o.o. had not believed to Faktor that they would transmit the statement fairly, regardless the written promise of the editor, and therefore had not accepted to respond to questions without the possibility to check whether the editor kept his promise through authorisation.
Faktor, on the other hand, informed that their media’s policy was with only in-house authorisation, which is a legitimate editorial decision, and therefore it was gentlemanly responded so the Korekt will not send the statement.
Authorisation surely has two sides of the medal, and especially so because it is an instrument many politicians in the world misuse in order to move from the authenticity check to the zone of editing, which is an unacceptable practice. Due to this risk, Korekt d.o.o. in its requests precisely focused only on the topic of accuracy in transmitting the statement.
ORIGIN OF ETHICAL PROBLEM:
Ethical problem with the article originated only at the point when the editor and journalist of Faktor in their text wrongly interpreted and by manipulation connoted what was the essence of Korekt’s requirements, as given above. Finally, it affirmed the initial fear of Korekt that Faktor had not had fair intentions with its questions, and that the risk of manipulative transmit of Korekt’s statement was affirmed and exercised in practice.
Faktor published their text on this link: https://www.faktor.ba/vijest/zasto-za-sarajevo-tower-zna-ambasada-sad-a-u-bih-i-fbi-otkud-bivsi-predsjednik-nase-stranke-u-ovom-slucaju/103397
Below is the quote of the text related to the request for authorisation: “We had contacted Bajic wanting to get more information on Sarajevo Tower and whether there was a chance to resolve this issue so that the buyers of flats would finally gain possession of their property. Bajic requested for his statements to be transmitted integrally, i.d. consistently, which is anyway presumed in journalistic practice, but he also had a request to authorise the whole text, i.e. for him “to set” what could be published, which is in contrary with all rules of journalistic profession.
This passage easily shows manipulation of Faktor trying to present as if Bajic asked for authorisation so that he could allegedly “set what will be published”. From the above correspondence, it is easily spotted that Korekt worried only about the integality and accuracy of Korekt’s statements, in relation to which the editor had already agreed to publish integrally, meaning that the Korekt will “set” what they want to state and for this statement to be integrally transmitted. Therefore, this had already been agreed in correspondence and written promise by the editor, but obviously Faktor, in their text, refuses their written promise and publishes manipulated version. If Faktor claims that “he” (author’s note: Bojan Bajic, Director of Korekt d.o.o.) wanted to impact the remains of the text published by Faktor, that would undoubtedly also be a manipulation, because the obvious intention of Korekt was to ensure the accuracy of own statement, and therefore Korekt is not either interested or worried about the remainder of the text.
The Faktor’s manipulation related to Korekt’s requests for authorisation has a deeper marketing dimension, because it sends an untrue thesis that Korekt is allegedly worried about the content of Faktor’s writing.
The Faktor’s text, no matter how benign it looks, obviously indicates existence of forbidden practice of collusion with judiciary representatives, and it is the sole reason why this Faktor’s text is of significance.
Korekt d.o.o. once again underlines that it made the Analysis of Delay in Construction of Sarajevo Tower which is absolutely and irrefutably based on material evidence, and that, to this day, ANS Drive, prosecutor Sanin Bogunic and manufacturer Euro Profil d.o.o. have not presented one single counter-argument to any of the claims from the Analysis, nor is it possible to find such an argument, because the Korekt d.o.o. had checked all statements thought multi-level mechanisms of fact checking. However, should it happen that Korekt d.o.o. receives from the said actors any evidence disputing any sentence from the Analysis, Korekt d.o.o. will, without thinking, admit its mistake and carry out necessary changes.
Korekt d.o.o. notices that the above stated actors: prosecutor Sanin Bogunic, ANS Drive, manufacturer Euro Profil and now, obviously, Faktor.ba, in their proclamations or while commenting the Analysis made by the Korekt d.o.o., do not challenge arguments from the Analysis, but use the same or similar “arguments” not relevant for the facts published in the Analysis, through which they attempt to divert attention of the public from the irrefutable facts and evidence presented in the Analysis.
One of those “arguments”, attempting to avoid the response to the facts from the Analysis, is the date of establishing the company, which is absolutely irrelevant for the accuracy of the Analysis and filing the criminal report by Korekt d.o.o., and an attempt of personal clash with the director of Korekt d.o.o.
As an example of synchronised attempts to divert the topic from the facts, we present the statement by the prosecutor Sanin Bogunic, given at the hearing in “Sarajevo Tower” case, held on Monday, 02 November 2020:
“Defence attorney (author’s note: Ms Vasvija Vidovic): just to respond, there, that is it, the prosecutor can do whatever they want, firstly, this position is not accurate. Secondly, only to be known for the public sake, the defence is not against the prosecutor Sanjin Bogunic for the misuse of official position and authority. One non-governmental organisation, very serious, has submitted a request for exclusion. We got to know this. The prosecution, it was submitted to the Cantonal Prosecution, Federal Prosecution forwarded the case… to prosecution; just so we know what is it. Therefore, such situations as this one occur when something completely new comes along, we were obliged to submit request for exclusion. Prosecution can do what they want, give a medal, this is an ethical committee.
Prosecutor (author’s note: Sanin Bogunic): Well, this is the first time I hear this information that a non-governmental organisation submitted a request for execution.
Defence attorney: I did not say that.
Judge: OK, let’s not do this, the defence attorney said, the defence attorney said criminal report
Prosecutor: if it is about the criminal report by legal entity Korekt d.o.o.; it is not a non-governmental organisation, but a d.o.o. (company), and I think the public will soon know about Korekt d.o.o. what is it about, when was this company registered at court and when had it submitted the criminal…
Judge: Ok, that is not relevant for further
Prosecutor: it is important for the public”
Conclusion of the Korekt d.o.o.:
After we have proven dishonest and unprofessional approach by web portal Faktor.ba in this analysis, and after we had established that the prosecutor Sanin Bogunic, at the court, on Monday 02 November 2020 announced as follows: ‘and I think the public will soon know about Korekt d.o.o. what is it about, when was this company registered at court and when had it submitted the criminal…”, and when we put into context that Faktor.ba only a day after the statement asked the question on company’s establishment, and having Faktor.ba soon informing the public on “what is it all about”, as the prosecutor Bogunic announced, and when we put into context that the said argument had already been emphasised by the ANS Drive in their reaction, it leads to conclusion that there is a “curious” compliance between the positions and actions.
Korekt d.o.o. will continue to analyse this compliance between positions and actions and will make a new analysis from the angle of the Korekt d.o.o.’s speciality, i.e. business ethics and legal compliance, and especially when it comes to risk of five (5) forbidden practices, which Korekt d.o.o. is specialised for: risk of corruption, risk of fraud, risk of extortion, risk of collusion, and risk of obstruction of facts.
The statement by prosecutor Bogunic, at the hearing, opens the question of the risk of collusion and non-transparent, coordinated actions on obstruction of evidences and facts, or intentional misinforming of the public, with the aim to prevent the truth to see the light of day, because the Prosecutor Bogunic stated the following: ‘and I think the public will soon know what is it about, when was this company registered at court and when had it submitted the criminal…’.
The prosecutor Bogunic had not stated that he himself will reveal to the public any knowledge of the Korekt d.o.o., but he said “I think the public will soon know what is it about, when was this company registered, etc.” The prosecutor undoubtedly knew that something would happen in public and that it would be very soon and that the knowledge will be published to public by someone else. This something happened right after Bogunic’s announcement, i.e. web portal Faktor.ba posed the questions and put an accent in text to issues perfectly suited to Bogunic’s announcement at the court.
Korekt d.o.o. believes that bypassing the official communication channels by any prosecutor (prosecutors can inform the public on their findings on their own or though the official public relations service of the institution), and using the so called non-transparent communication channels with public, can be seen as disciplinary breach by the prosecutor, but also as a criminal act of misuse of position or exceeding the authority, etc.
Korekt d.o.o. emphasises that it is required for Bosnia and Herzegovina to see the public moral and ethics come to life at all levels of institutional, political, legislative and business community, because it is only through accountability for the words said in public, honest and fair treatment that it can be secured for the local institutions to serve the citizens, justice and development, and not private and backstage interests.
To be continued…