On 28 August 2023, Western Balkans media and civil society representatives gathered at the margins of the Bled Strategic Forum for a roundtable discussion, ‘The Line Is(n’t) Thin: Fact v. Opinion, Regulation v. Censorship’. Joining the discussion was a Deutsche Welle journalist and a Global Diplomacy Lab member, Burak Ünveren. Together, participants exchanged experiences regarding the role and position of fact-checking in their respective countries, touched upon the challenges of journalism and effective communication of facts to society in the digital, ‘post-truth’ age, emphasized the risks inherent to the current business model of media outlets and noted the difficulties in maintaining an effective government-media-civil society relationship. Participants also weighed government intervention’s pros and cons in introducing counter-disinformation regulation. While there is no clear-cut answer to any of these questions, ensuring the sustainability of professional and quality journalism and supporting journalistic standards was heralded as a priority for all societies.

The discussion was organised under the framework of the ‘Strengthening Societal Resilience and Countering Foreign Perpetrated Disinformation in the Western Balkans’ project. The project also allowed participants to attend the panels of the 18th Bled Strategic Forum, held in Bled on 28-29 August.

The Project Strengthening Societal Resilience and Countering Disinformation in the Western Balkans is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia through development cooperation funds.