Study title
Profession at the Crossroads – Journalism at the Threshold of Information Society
Ref study 13716
Study language English
Contributing institutions

  • Information society
  • Journalism
  • Serbia
  • RRPP Data
2010 - 2012
Geographical space
  • Serbia
The future of journalism, threatened by rapid and comprehensive advancement of information and communication technologies, may be problematized within three key dimensions: professional (journalistic practice, normative framework, the organization of newsrooms, production processes of journalistic content, relationship to the public), sociological sociological (new roles of media an journalism in the information society) and economic dimension (economics of media industry, new media business models etc.).

The purpose of this research was to collect and systematize the initial knowledge of how those changes affect the media and journalism Serbia and to identify major problems in respective areas. The main goal was to investigate the socio-economic, technological and educational characteristics of the journalistic community in Serbia, its capacity to respond to the challenges that journalism faces in terms of global media changes as well as the changes in domestic transition processes. The research included combination of quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus group and individual interviews) method.
The survey sample included 260 journalists - 51,4 female and 43,46% male ( 5% did not respond to this question). According to years of experience, most of the respondents (36.15%) belongs to a group that works in journalism from 10 to 20 years. Formal education of the respondents is mostly at the faculty level: journalism (31.92%), other social sciences (35%), technical and natural sciences (6.15%). Gymnasium has 16.15% and high school 8.47%.
More than one-third of respondents monthly earns up to 50,000 RSD (16.54%) or more than 50,000 RSD (23.85%), while the same percentage of respondents earn between 20,000 and 30,000 RSD. Up to 40,000 RSD earns one fifth of respondents (20.38%) and 3.85% receive financial compensation less than 15,000 RSD. One third of respondents is union member (33.08%), two thirds are not (65.77%).
The biggest problems of the media in Serbia are of poor quality journalism, the dominance of sensationalism and tabloid journalism (22.13%), strong political pressure and lack of media autonomy (20.59%) and only a small part of the respondents believe that it is technical backwardness (4.34 %).
The biggest pressure on the media in Serbia comes from the political parties that form the governing coalition (25.59%), owners of big capital (17.65%), representatives of local authorities (9.13%), owners of the media (12.94%), lessees of advertising space (11.62%), PR (4:56%).
The most common forms of pressure on the media have an impact on internal media policy (19.89%), corruption of journalists or editors to write "commissioned texts" (17.31%), denial of purchase for advertising space (13.45%), refusal of information on which media have the right (12.45%).
The biggest problems of the journalistic profession in Serbia are: low salaries (20.36%), low level of professionalism and insufficient respect of journalistic ethics (16.78%), low social status and reputation of the profession (9.16%), technical obsolescence of working equipment (3,16%), unpreparedness for journalism on digital platforms (1.79%).
Journalists in Serbia: need substantial further education (66.54%); generally have adequate professional knowledge but not the technological knowledge (12.69%); generally have appropriate technological knowledge but not professional (12.69%).
Only 1.92% of journalists believe that journalists in Serbia are well acquainted with the ethical principles of the profession and to follow them. The majority believes that journalists in Serbia do not apply the principles of journalistic ethics: mostly they know but do not apply enough (45.38%); do not know them, nor follow them (29.23%); know them, but almost do not apply them (23.46%).
Most journalists did attended training for the new media: in seminars and courses (41.23%), the relevant faculty (12.01%) or by going to the relevant specialization abroad (6, 82%); independently or by learning from colleagues to work in new media, 21.75% of respondents have been trained, and did not (12,01%) or do not plan to answered 5.52% of journalists.
Most of the respondents (66.54%) think that the majority of journalists need significant additional training, then that journalists generally have adequate professional knowledge, but not the technological (12.69%) or that journalists tend to have appropriate technological knowledge, but not a professional (12.69%). Only 6.92% of respondents believe that the majority of journalists in Serbia has the appropriate qualifications.
When asked how they expect that the application of new technologies will affect the future of the journalism profession, respondents were diverse. Most believe that the productivity of journalists will increase (28.17%), a smaller number of thinks that journalists who work for a long time in traditional media will not be able to adapt to the coming changes (19.19%). That the credibility of the journalistic content will fall because of the speed and not enough time to verify information believes 17,08% of respondents. A small number of respondents thought that in the offer extensive content audience will have more confidence in the proven journalistic content (5.46%). When it comes to operating costs, a 13.38% of respondents felt that they would be reduced, while 2.99% believe it will increase because of increased investment in the technology; 4.58% think that new technologies will help to attract new audiences outside of Serbia.
More than one-third of respondents believe that they have enough knowledge that could help them to understand the new media and that journalism, will not significantly change (39.62%) or that they have sufficient experience in the media with many previous changes (34.23%). A positive attitude towards new challenges, but with a pronounced need for additional education has 18.46% of the participants in the journalistic survey. While 4.23% of journalists believe that the changes in the media require a completely new professional knowledge, or that their previous experiences in the media will be of great benefit in the new media environment (0.77%).
Participants in the focus groups said that "the typical journalist in Serbia ... a person who has a great responsibility and great potential, but that is undervalued in society, not adequately paid and does not live in dignity ..." Both focus groups and surveys agree in finding that journalists work hard and do not have working hours, not making money or have irregular income, have uncertain status, do not have health insurance, poor health, stressed, worried about their future and exposed to pressures.
Methods (description)
Due to the fact that in Serbia there is no reliable statistical base about the press or media owner population, the survey was not possible to perform on a representative random sample, so the sample of this study can be considered as appropriate and available.

Stratified, quota sample was created based on the only available base of journalists’ Quotas were related to the type of media, while the strata related to the territorial distribution of the media. Based on these data quota sample includes in proportion journalists working in electronic and print media. Of all respondents, two-thirds of the journalists working in the electronic media, while the remaining third belongs to the print media. According to the territorial scope, more than half of the registered media is located in Belgrade, one-quarter of the media in Vojvodina, and the rest are situated in central and southern Serbia. This parameter was used to stratify our sample.

Research was conducted with two different questionnaires (surveys) and on the two different samples. The first sample included 260 journalists/editors and the second consisted of 51 owners/managers. In selecting respondents for journalism/editors sample three major criteria were applied: media type (TV, radio, print, agencies, Internet), territorial reach and gender parity. Selection of respondents for the owners/managers sample was based on available information In selecting these respondents in the sample, except that was taken into consideration to comply with a regional scope and type of media in which they are engaged (TV, print, radio, agencies, Internet), it is also taken into account the proportional relation of gender representation. In the sector of the owners / managers of 51 patients were included. The selection of these subjects in the sample was carried based on available information on media owners in Serbia, and their willingness to cooperate.

The sample establishes a balance between the public broadcaster, media corporations based abroad and media corporations based in Serbia, as well as smaller independent media companies.
Methods (instruments)
  • Standardised interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Qualitative interviews
Replicated study No
Financed by

Mandating institution(s)
  • University of Fribourg, Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe, Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans - RRPP, Bd de Pérolles 90, 1700 Fribourg
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
To access these data and the related documentation, please send an email to Christina Bornatici ( mentioning:
• The data you are interested in (the study's title and reference number);
• For what purpose will the data be used (research or teaching)
• A brief description of the expected research;
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Warning - Data only available in Serbian
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 08.01.2020
Date modified 25.03.2020
Start - End date 01.07.2011 - 30.06.2012