N1 Television's news programme Dnevnik on Wednesday featured the head of Zagreb's Clinic for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotic, who talked live to our reporter Matea Dominikovic about the record increase of new coronavirus cases in Croatia from a location in one of Zagreb's parks. However, just before coming on air, our team and Markotic were verbally attacked by a young couple who happened to be passing by.
The couple, a young woman and a man walking what appeared to be a Dobermann dog near the filming location, began hurling vulgar insults at Markotic and the reporting crew, as can be seen in the video released by N1 Television on Wednesday. The passers by eventually walked away, but not before calling Markotic and reporters “liars.”
One of the first to react to this incident was the non-profit democracy watchdog Gong, who posted a message on their Facebook page.
“We condemn the attack on the journalist and cameraman of N1 Television and the head of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotić. We would like to remind everyone that a recent report released by the European Commission on the rule of law – which was this year for the first time compiled taking into account all EU countries – had warned Croatia about increasing concerns over attacks, threats, and lawsuits against journalists. The European Commission stated that press freedom and investigative journalism are in serious jeopardy, and that threats and attacks against journalists contribute to the eroding of the profession whose job is to ask questions and defend public interest,” Gong said.
The Croatian Journalists’ Union (SNH) also condemned the incident in a press release.
“We condemn the savage verbal attack on our colleague Matea Dominikovic, the cameraman of N1 Croatia, and professor Markotić. The public has the right to express their opinion and voice criticism. However, this was a case of abuse and obstruction of a journalist simply doing her job. We cannot agree to see this type of behaviour, which involves insulting people because of their job or opinions, become normalised,” SKH said.
The largest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SDP) also reacted to the incident.
“This is unacceptable in a democratic country where journalists have to do their job. We will always fight for the journalists to do their job freely, and to protection their profession in order to protect the public interest,” SDP tweeted on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, government spokesman also tweeted a condemnation of the attack on N1 Television's team and Alemka Markotić, and all similar abuse that reporters have been victims of recently.
“We condemn the shameful and primitive attack and threats directed at Ms. Alemka Markotić and the N1 Television crew, as well as the verbal attack on Health Minister, Vili Beros, before his live appearance in RTL Television's Danas programme. Ms. Markotić and (head of the national Covid task force) Mr. Capak recently received threats, which have been reported to authorities.These are outbursts of intolerance and hatred, with the intention of putting other people in jeopardy, which goes against the culture of tolerance that we need to build in a civilised society,” government spokesman, Marko Milic, tweeted.