Normative Role Orientations of Yugoslav Journalists

Study of Journalism Ethics Codes in SFRY

  • Melita Poler Kovacic Univerza v Ljubljani


The goal of this study was to investigate normative role orientations of journalists in SFRY, as stated or implied in five Yugoslav journalism ethics codes. By applying the method of document analysis and the comparative historical method, we established the reasons for adopting the first code, analysed the codes’ conceptualisations of (the relation between) freedom and responsibility, and determined how the codes addressed truthfulness and professional norms. The normative foundations of journalism, as outlined in ethics codes, have been transforming over time and along changes in the socio-political-legal-economic environment. Media /journalistic freedom had only been permitted within the limits of the socialist orientation and contribution to the building and development of the self-managing society, at least until 1988, when values of Marxism and Leninism and defining a journalist as a socio-political worker were deleted. A journalist was obliged to follow his socialist conscience and was responsible to the working people, to the socialist public, but the codes in the 1980s stressed his responsibility to the public. While displaying several characteristics of the Soviet-totalitarian theory of the press, normative foundations also bear some resemblance to the social responsibility theory. Professional norms related to truthfulness, professional integrity, and respect for human personality and dignity have been evolving over time, gaining more space, elaboration and emphasis. The fact that some professional norms have been recognized by the journalistic community as sufficiently significant to be codified indicates that the foundations of the professionalization of Slovenian journalism were laid in the socialist Yugoslavia already.


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