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NO 103-104

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 103-104 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 103-104

January - February 2007



By Velimir Curgus Kazimir

In Serbia, Kosovo is constantly the print media's hot topic. The same refers to the broadcast media. The only difference is that the latter talk about it, rather than write. The monthly average of 600 stories dealing with Kosovo spirals when it comes to the issue of status. Future plans or plans for development are not the topics that capture the attention of reporters or their readership. Only some 10 percent of newspaper stories tackle the problems of everyday life. Political deliberation and various suppositions about the status issue seem to be an endless source of sensationalism.

In quantitative terms, the media landscape is as follows: out of 757 Kosovo-related stories published in November 2006, 552 were elaborating its status, 62 were dealing with everyday life and 19 with incidents. In December 2007, the total number of stories dropped to 620, out of which 394 tackled the status, 64 everyday life and 41 incidents. The interest in the topic itself grew in 2007. So it happened that January newspapers carried 804 Kosovo-related stories - 609 about status, 41 about everyday life and 77 about incidents. February turned record-breaking: out of 1,379 stories, as many as 1,187 were elaborating the status issue, 29 the everyday life and 69 incidents. The tendency is more than obvious - the status topic is about to wipe off the everyday life one. As it seems, the stories dealing with everyday life are harmful to the key one - the resolution of the status of Kosovo. As it seems, everyday life - and not in Kosovo only - threatens to blur or distract one's attention from major issues. There are no doubts, as it seems, that everyday life refuses to be arranged either by programs or ideologies. Ordinary life is good and useful only if it can be used to illustrate ideological theses.

The status issue surely is a political one and will be resolved by political means. However, it is becoming more and more obvious that all this is no longer about some pragmatic, political decision but about an ideological stand that is being wrapped in a variety of political and legal papers. Besides, Kosovo is a major domestic topic that mirrors popular support to and significance of the parties occupying today's political scene. The media as they are, divided by influences and interests of the same political parties, wage at least two battles at the same time: to picture themselves as truly patriotic (i.e. would not avoid the topic of Kosovo no matter what) and to present their political and financial patrons in the best possible (patriotic) light.

It goes without saying that tabloids do not carry reports on the Vienna negotiations. Such coverage is reserved for the so-called serious newspapers ("Politika," "Vecernje Novosti," "Blic," "Glas," "Danas" and "Dnevnik"). And yet, it is absolutely impossible for tabloids to turn a blind eye to Kosovo and the status topic. So they are running the so-called analytical texts or statements by which "their" politicians accuse opponents. The stories "revealing" Martti Ahtisaari's fascist roots and his closeness to the Finnish fascist past - i.e. his father was a Nazi - are specially dear to tabloids' hearts ("Nedeljni Telegraf" of February 7 and 21, and the issue of "Kurir" of February 8, 2007). All in all, the status of Kosovo strongly contributes to the development of investigative journalism over here - for it helps to investigate biographies, historical backgrounds and connections between all the partners in the conspiracy.

The political unison in the matter of Kosovo is only logically reflected in the media. People dread for long to be called traitors because of Kosovo. Latest developments and final rounds of the Vienna negotiations have even more laid bare and aggravated this state of affairs. However, the question is to what extent public opinion has changed. Namely, in 2006, the great majority of citizens were fully aware of the difference between their wishful thinking and realistic prospects. And their realism is far beyond the picture presented to them by politicians and the media.

Shaping the public opinion about Kosovo has been a labor lost for long. Hardly anyone looks forward to some dramatic change. Kosovo has been independent of Serbia since 1999, and even the staunchest nationalists are aware of this fact. What can be accomplished today at political level is far below the things that can be done for everyday life of the people living in Kosovo. Therefore, the media should focus on everyday life rather than ponder legal, political and historical combinations. In my view, this presupposes not only the resolution of the status of Kosovo but also citizens' resoluteness to begin living a normal life in Kosovo and Serbia alike.


NO 103-104

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