Outraged reactions to tabloid front pages

January 15, 2020

Two high-circulating tabloid newspapers, Srpski Telegraf [Serbian Telegraph] and Informer, published an alleged testimony of the arrested Ninoslav Jovanović, which details his treatment of the 12-year-old girl who he held in abduction for 10 days, publishing the story on their front pages, which provoked outrage among the public. Another tabloid, Alo, also published the alleged testimony, but only on its website.

Sharp criticisms – not only for violations of the Code of Journalists, but also certain laws – were forwarded by individual journalists to the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Association of Journalists of Serbia, the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia, the Association of Independent Electronic Media, the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina, the Commissioner for Gender Equality, the Press Council and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlović.

Srpski Telegraf subsequently published an apology to the kidnapped girl, her family and the public. Additionally, the Ministry of Culture and Information announced the filing of misdemeanour charges against Srpski Telegraf and the other two tabloid newspapers.

Jovanović, who has already been convicted of rape, was arrested in early January after a two-week mass manhunt that included the participation of hundreds of police officers and citizens, due to the suspicion that he had abducted and abused a 12-year-old girl from the Niš area. The girl was found alive 10 days after the abduction.

Even before the two tabloids released Jovanović’s alleged testimony to the police and published the most disgusting parts on their front pages, another tabloid – Kurir [Courier] – even during the manhunt for the accused, published his alleged confession from March this year, which the newspaper didn’t publish at the time because of, as it explained, “the creepy stances that a normal person cannot even imagine”.