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Aleksandar Milošević, Economics Editor, Danas

Our Duty Is To Tell It The Way It Is

Our focus is on topics that are essential for progress in Serbia, especially social and economic progress. So we concentrate on subjects like working conditions, abolishing bureaucracy, combating corruption and equal rules for all

Aleksandar Milošević, editor of the economics column in the Danas daily paper, has won this year’s NALED award for his contribution to high quality reporting on reforms and initiatives to improve working conditions in Serbia.

When you look back at the accomplishments of your editorial office at Danas, what are you most proud of?

Although it might sound like a cliché, I am most proud of our team writing for the economics column at Danas. Those people work hard to expose the real truth behind news, expose deceptions, half-information and political spins placed by government officials. That is the main reason we are so focused on topics related to working conditions, abolishing bureaucracy, combating corruption, equal rules for all, subsidies, protection of property rights, workers’ rights and spending public funds.

What are the key challenges facing independent journalism today?

I think that the term ‘independent journalism’ is actually a pleonasm. You’re either a journalist or you’re a propagandist. There is no third option. In that sense, the main issue Serbian journalism is facing today is the attempt (and a very successful one) to subsume journalism under two polar opposites, with no middle ground. Either you are for the government or you’re against them. Media outlets who still believe in journalism need to actively take care not to fall into the trap of their own radicalisation. It isn’t our role to tell people what is wrong with our society, we are here to show them the way things are. Those are two fundamentally different things.

Media outlets who still believe in journalism need to actively take care not to fall into the trap of their own radicalisation

Practically, media outlets that try to stay independent face a series of issues: from being completely ignored by institutions and government officials to being financially jeopardised, as they are banned from advertising public companies and institutions. Private companies are actively discouraged and even directly intimidated from advertising in independent media.

When you look at the recommendations in the NALED Grey Book, especially the list of 10 priorities, what would you highlight as most important and would you change anything on the list?

NALED’s first recommendation is to reduce payroll deductions, but I think that the second recommendation is more urgent, i.e. establishing a register of non-tax charges. Reducing payroll deductions is a complex issue that can’t be fixed easily, while non-tax charges are more numerous and often completely unjustified, they don’t serve the purpose they are intended for, and they are often a tax burden disguised as a fee for a service that either does not exist or its value is overestimated with the funds used for something completely different.

Another key issue that NALED acknowledges has to do with wastewater treatment. I’d also mention the reduction of harmful substances used in Serbian thermal power plants, and establishing strict control mechanisms in mining and processing to prevent further environmental destruction that will have longlasting consequences for our health and our capacity for economic development.