Eyes Wide Open
World Press Review Correspondent
Accustomed to using inventive ways to get any news
in the face of the shroud of censorship imposed during Slobodan
Milosevics decade-long dictatorial rule, the people of Serbia
found themselves quite confused after his ouster last October. Suddenly,
all restrictions on media were lifted.
in Serbia are still starving for the truth. Poverty prevents most
Serbs from buying print publications and forces them to rely mostly
on the electronic media. They are faced with a number of TV channels
almost identical in news content, staffed by the same reporters
and editors who had worked in Milosevics era.
The only exception is the newly launched TV B92, founded by the
courageous journalists behind the independent radio station of the
same name. Just as Radio B92 kept its independent editorial policy
throughout the Milosevic era, it is now critical when needed toward
the new authorities. Now TV B92 shows viewers the current reality,
whether Milosevics successors like it or not.
Through the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM),
radio and TV B92 manage to broadcast throughout the country, bringing
independent news to most of the population. But old habits die hard.
A significant number of people still rely on the State Radio-Television
of Serbia, now trying to curry favor with the new authorities. Although
state broadcasting, like all other media, have been free and open
since the October events, years of censorship and self-censorship
have influenced their way of covering events. Their tendency is
to refrain from any critical coverage of the new government and
its officials. Apparently, it will take some time before the old
pro-regime media in Serbia transform themselves into truly free
and open-minded journalists.
Although the governing coalition claims it does not want to control
any media, it has so far failed to boost the transformation process.
Apparently, the former opposition leaders have discovered that state
television can be a valuable tool in their effort to solidify their
position, just as it was Milosevics primary weapon in his
propaganda campaign to discredit the opposition leaders.
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