TROLL OF THE YEAR 2022: Daily Informer
The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or other diversity categories. The Balkan Troll is selected based on hate speech incidents identified across the Western Balkans region.
The Balkan Troll of the Month is selected on a monthly basis from incidents monitored and gathered across the Western Balkan region. In December, RDN 2.0 opened the vote of the Troll of the Year to the public to help us make this selection.
Following three intense rounds of voting on our Instagram platform, the results were gathered, and the Troll of the Year was selected. The title of this year’s Troll was given to Daily Informer, a popular tabloid in Serbia which conducted an interview with a serial rapist by the name of Igor Milošević.
Milošević, a known serial rapist, had recently been released from prison in September. Upon his release, he was invited by Informer.rs who interviewed the rapist and then proceeded to publish the interview online for the public. The video interview, furthermore, was also uploaded on YouTube and was promoted and shared on the social media platforms of Informer.rs. This was all done under the notion and advertisement of ‘mega exclusive’ content as a means of grabbing attention and interest from its audience.
The entire interview completely violated the Ethical Code of Journalists of Serbia whilst simultaneously, instilling fear in the public and holding little to no regard for those who have been victims of rape and may have found an interview as such both emotionally distressing and traumatising. The interview received a large amount of criticism and negative reactions from the public who were both distressed, angry, and shocked that an interview like this would be both permitted and published. The large backlash from members of the public manifested itself in the form of a large protest which took place in front of Informer’s editorial office calling for the resignation of the editor-in-chief and for the newspaper to be held accountable and face the appropriate consequences for the publication of the interview.
As a result of this large public outcry and backlash, the Press Council of Serbia also reacted by condemning the interview having taken place, alongside several women’s associations. Due to the culminating reactions and appeals for Informer to be held accountable for even permitting such an interview to have taken place, Informer was forced to hand over all their recorded material to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. This resulted in Igor Milošević being re-arrested. Despite all of this, Informer has to this day not apologised for having published the interview.
Informer to this day has not taken accountability or made a public apology for having invited a serial rapist onto their show and provided him with the space and attention to be heard. Individuals like these, who have been arrested for acts of sexual violence and rape towards women and who, therefore, are a threat to many individuals in society, should not be provided the space to share their story. Furthermore, as a daily newspaper with a large viewership, audience and influence, Informer should never have neither conducted nor published an interview as such. Throughout the process, no attention or consideration was given to the mental and physical safety of individuals of the public and those who have been victim of sexual violence.
An interview like this goes against all journalistic practices – it is not an example of good journalism and indeed is not intended for public interest. Instead, it is a clear example of sensationalism and violation of good practice.
Reporting Diversity Network 2.0 emphasises the importance of adherence to journalistic standards as well as the ethical and moral responsibility of journalists. By selecting this incident as the Troll of the Year we are once more highlighting the horrific and problematic behaviour of Informer who should be held accountable and responsible for their actions and who, furthermore, owe a public apology to all those who have been harmed and negatively impacted by the publication of this interview.