How Did the Media Report on the Tragedy in Cetinje: Assumptions, Guesses, Disinformation
In the unforgettable tragedy that happened in Cetinje on August 12, 11 people died – including Vuk Borilovikj, who committed the murders, and six people were wounded. During the chaotic situation and the panic that was created among the citizens, the first information about this crime began to arrive from the capital, and some of them, mostly published in the regional media, contained unverified and incorrect claims related to the details of the murders, writes the Montenegrin fact-checking portal “Raskrinkavanje”
Wrong number of killed, incorrect identification of victims
Father of three killed 11 people… his wife was the first victim, and they seemed a happy couple (…) – part of the headline of the text published by Informer.
“Vuk Borilovikj killed 11 people and wounded six people in the Cetinje settlement of Medovina. Locals say that the killer first shot his wife, and then went out into the street and shot the people who got in his way,” the text reads, which also includes private photos of Borilovikj’s family members.
HE COMMITED THE UNPRECEDENTED MASSACRE BECAUSE OF DEBT!? The killer was in conflict with the neighbors, he had a wife and three children, HE KILLED ALL OF THEM, is the title of the text published by Kurir referring to the information obtained from the conversation with “a relative of the killer”.
The texts of “Informer” and “Kurir” were also republished by other media throughout the region.
As the prosecutor on duty, Andriana Nastikj, announced after the investigation, 11 people were killed in Cetinje – including the attacker.
Nastikj explained that they found nine dead people on the spot. In the meantime, as she told Vijesti television, they received information from the Clinical Center of Montenegro that two more people succumbed to their injuries.
More detailed information about the events in Cetinje was announced by the director of the police, Zoran Brgjanin, through a video message delivered to the media:
According to the circumstances known so far, today around 3:30 p.m., thirty-four-year-old V.B. from Cetinje shot a family whose members were tenants in his house in the Medovina neighborhood. Using a firearm – a hunting rifle, he took the lives of two children, one aged eight and the other eleven, and injured their mother, who succumbed to her injuries in a medical facility. Then he went out and with the same firearm shot at the residents of this settlement, killing seven more people and injuring six.
Thus, based on the official information confirmed by the prosecution and the police, it is clear that Borilovikj (based on the investigation so far) is not suspected of murdering 11, but 10 people and that his wife and children were not the targets of the attack.
Unverified information about who killed the attacker
After the publication of the first information about the tragedy in Cetinje, some media (here, here…) informed the public that the police were trying to subdue the attacker, who refused to surrender and shot at the policemen, and that “the policemen then fired several shots in the direction of the attacker, who was killed on that occasion.”
In the above-linked texts of the portals that published this information, at the time of writing this analysis, the information has not been changed yet.
Some portals later changed this information, with no indication of the previous post.
Prosecutor Nastikj said that the attacker was killed by his fellow citizen.
However, the director of the police, Brgjanin, did not disclose this information.
I emphasize that the circumstances of the entire event, including the loss of life of W.B. are still being determined, and the public will be informed about all the details through the media, said the police director.
A day later, the police said that they are still determining whether Borilovikj, who killed 10 people yesterday, died as a result of a serious wound or from a bullet that was later fired by a citizen. This was announced by the Minister of Interior Filip Adzikj.
The measures and actions carried out so far indicate that one of the projectiles fired by the police officers hit V.B. and in doing so he was seriously wounded. After the alternating use of firearms by police officers and V.B., according to their statements and reports, at one point there was no more use of weapons by V.B., the police said, the media reports.
The “Barski” portal made an unacceptable omission in reporting on the events in Cetinje, which published an article with the title “Horror in Cetinje: SD official 11 and injured many people”.
By reporting in this way, the portal gives the wrong context to the events, because membership in any political party is not and must not be correlated with the committed crime.
The text was later deleted (without notice, correction or apology to readers) and is currently not available on their website or Facebook.
Police officers with rifles?
According to unconfirmed information from the field, after the massacre in Cetinje, the Clinical Center in Podgorica is under siege. As we learn, police officers with rifles are guarding the hospital, where some of the wounded from the bloody incident were brought, according to a text published in Kurir.
These claims are not confirmed by photos that illustrate the text, or by video recordings, and at no time was there a notification from the police about enhanced security measures in front of the Clinical Center.
In the video taken by “Pobjeda” photojournalist Dragan Mijatovikj, which “Kurir” included in the text, no police officers with rifles are seen. Mijatovikj confirmed to us that while the wounded from Cetinje was being carried, there were police and inspectors around the Clinical Center, but that they were not carrying rifles.
Journalistic interpretations of the crime – demonization of the suspected assailant
“Bloody event”, “bloody drama”, “massacre”, and “bloody action” – are just some of the descriptions in the media about the tragedy that happened in Cetinje in which 11 people died.
Some media called the suspected attacker a “mass murderer”, “monster”…
Investigative and court case reports should carefully inform the public about crime, prosecution, and court sentencing. A person is innocent until proven guilty by a court, even when they plead guilty. This applies even in cases where the guilt is obvious to the public, according to the Code of Journalists of Montenegro.
Also, the media presented various information regarding the motive of the attack, such as, “unforgettable massacre committed because of a debt”, “he thought he had been cast a spell”, “argument over property”…
These are unconfirmed allegations and rumours.
For now, it is not clear what prompted V.B. of such a heinous act, in which he lost his life, announced the director of the police in his first address.
Even in the next announcement of the Police Department, the motive for the assailant’s killing of several people was not announced.
In the interest of the public, we point out that based on the collected information there are indications, based on statements of people from V.B.’s immediate environment, which indicated that there were changes in his behavior, but not the potential commission of such a crime, and on that occasion, a specialist examination of V.B. was scheduled. We also emphasize that there is no information, nor has it been reported to the police that there were previous conflicts or an attack in the last period by V.B. on the family that was a tenant in the house. Therefore, the commission of this serious crime should not be brought into a cause-and-effect relationship with any illegal behavior from a previous period, according to the announcement of the Police Department.
The “Kurir”, “Blic”, and “Informer” posts are rated “biased reporting.”
A rating of “biased reporting” is given to a media report that can clearly be found to favor facts, attitudes and conclusions that fit a particular narrative, often disregarding the right of contact of the second party when it comes to claims that are damaging to one’s reputation or that they portray a certain person in a negative light. One of the forms of biased reporting is the selective presentation of facts, where facts that support a certain thesis are highlighted, while facts that do not confirm the thesis are omitted. Such media reports are usually accompanied by a very emotional way of writing. They may or may not be incorrect, but as a rule, they do not present the whole picture and all sides of the story, only the facts that fit the preferred narrative.
The article by “Informer” that Borilovikj killed 11 people and his wife is rated as “disinformation”.
A media report that contains a “mix” of facts and untrue or half-true content is rated “disinformation”. In such cases, the media is not necessarily aware of the false information being published alongside the correct information. In addition, reports that have false attributions or titles that do not reflect the text in terms of the truth of the information are rated as such.