As part of the program for fighting disinformation and false news that cross borders quickly in the Balkans, where very soon they can be seen in the media of another state and sometimes in another language, Meta.mk has been reporting regularly about current affairs by similar services for checking facts and the fight against disinformation in the region i.e. starting from Croatia in the North and encompassing Greece in the South.
Something very interesting happened during the weekend in the neighboring Serbia, when the state news agency Tanjug published that the renowned newspaper Financial Times has published an article praising Serbian economy. The service for fighting disinformation raskrikavanje.rs determined that it wasn’t published by the newspaper but a magazine that is published by Financial Times’ publisher and it’s also a paid content.
As a reaction Tanjug attacked raskrikavanje.rs that has been accusing falsely and is showing incompetence, and stated that in their announcement they didn’t state that the article was paid for by Serbia since they though it was irrelevant. But, failing to report that something was a paid content i.e. a commercial advertisement, is against all journalist standards as it indicates that this is propaganda.
The article, which praised Serbian economy, was mistakenly thought of to be published by the British newspaper even though it was published by FDI magazine, the publishing company behind Financial Time, but failing to state that this was paid by the Serbian Ministry of Finance, the Economic Chamber of Serbia and several municipalities. None of the media that published the news didn’t state that it’s a sponsored article.
Tanjug agency reacted to raskrikavanje.rs article and it stressed that the fact that the article was sponsored wasn’t particularly important to them and they relied on the the disclaimer that FDI has published with the article, where the editing and publishing is done independently by FDI.
The service for fighting disinformation stated tha tthey have analyzed the report that was submitted in the printed edition, on 6 pages, and was available obly through paid subscription, and not the shortened and free version that is available on the internet.
Raskrikavanje.rs contacted FDI’s editor and the journalist that wrote the article and the journalist admitted that even though the article was paid by Serbia it didn’t influence the articles positive tone. In addition, FDI stated that they will consider whether to take legal action against those that their article was attributed to Financial Times.
FDI is a magazine which target audience are managers and investor and is covering the domain of foreign investments, though news, research and analyses. But this magazine is advertising certain locations for future investments.