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Media Found in Ethics Breach in School Sex Scandal Reporting

Ljubljana, 7 April - An ethics panel has found that the majority of Slovenian media breached ethics guidelines in reporting about a school sex scandal late last year that ended in tragedy when one of the protagonists committed suicide.

Izjava za medije, novinarji, mediji, mikrofon.
Foto: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

A total of 48 reporters, editors and anchors in twelve media outlets, including almost all major mainstream media, violated the Journalists' Code of Ethics, the ethics panel at the Association of Slovenian Journalists determined.

The media were found to have violated the provisions which require reporters to respect people's privacy, in that they revealed the identities of the protagonists. They also breached provisions calling for ethical reporting on suicides.

This is proof that Slovenian media failed the test, Ranka Ivelja, a reporter for the Dnevnik newspaper who chairs the ethics panel, told the press on Tuesday as the results of the probe were revealed.

"As many as 12 media outlets acted wrongfully, which shows that the level of ethics in Slovenian journalism is not adequate," she said.

Not one of the journalists has apologised or voiced remorse, and only one of those investigated, a TV editor, acknowledged responsibility.

Moreover, only one reporter, a correspondent for the public RTV Slovenija, said she had refused to record a statement but was made to do so by her superiors.

The ethics review was launched by the management board of the Journalists' Association.

It was triggered by the suicide in November 2014 of a headmaster of a Maribor secondary school, who was filmed by students having sex with a teacher on school premises.

The youngsters uploaded the video that subsequently went viral. The video was picked up by mainstream media, triggering a media frenzy that did not abate until the headmaster committed suicide.

The ethics panel argues that publication of this type of content is not in the public interest, but it does not have the authority to mete out any sanctions for the infringing journalists or the media outlets.

Ivelja said this was therefore a plea of conscience, but she was quick to point out that any changes to reporting standards were unlikely given that replies by journalists to the probe showed "they did not understand the lesson".

© STA, 2015