How to report when one discovers that an athlete was doped, who conducts doping control and how, why some media write about the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs in sensationalist manner without checking the facts? Do ADAS (Anti-Doping agency of Serbia) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) timely inform and properly educate the “fourth estate”, how hard do sport reporters try to find something out and explore? This, and many other questions could be heard at a seminar organized in Belgrade by ADAS and USNS (Association of Sports Journalists of Serbia).

After the opening speech by dr. Milica Vukašinović-Vesic, Director of Anti-Doping Agency of Serbia, Dr. Nenad Dikic, Chairman of the doping control, has pointed out some examples of “spin” and misinformation in one part of Serbian media in detecting doped athletes. Offensive titles and lyrics, false fact, unnecessary inclusion of athlete’s family in the entire case have contributed to the creation of public opinion in a direction that leads tabloidisation of society.

Sandra Radenović, assistant professor at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, stressed the need to respect ethics and “louder” pointing out violations of the journalistic code. Representatives of the media, and there were more than 20, noted that the texts of the “yellow press” completely shed serious journalistic analysis and media that respect ethical and professional rules. Ruthless market race and the fight for readers and viewers, all under the guise of freedom of speech, greatly promote kitsch, primitivism and often lie.

Pointing out violations of ethical rules and announcements of the Association of Sports Journalists of Serbia are obviously not enough. A comprehensive action is needed which would include prominent journalists, but also other organizations such as ADAS. Seminars for members of the “fourth estate”, education of students, but also a faster reaction of the Anti-Doping Agency of Serbia to published false information, will improve the picture only partially.

Tabloidisation of society can not be stopped unless academics, scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and above all politicians ie. country raise their voice. “Big Brother”, reality shows and primitive settling with individuals in the media without any evidence, were created because somebody “deliberately” turned the head of this phenomenon and the judicial authorities did not react to the phenomenon or were too slow and gentle with those who violated ethical and professional standards.

Predrag Milinkovic
photo: Nenad Negovanovic

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