Ivan Jovic on Sat, 27 Mar 1999 18:07:07 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Death of Media

The Death of Media

Most of the private TV stations in Belgrade, except few, transmit Radio
Television of Serbia programs. Old partisan movies, news, classical
music, patriotic military adds, press conferences of the Yugoslav
politicians, army statements, etc. Foreign movies are officially banned
from Yugoslav televisions and cinemas. We can see  selected reports,
mostly about damages on civil objects and hear the statements of the
ordinary folk cursing USA and comparing Clinton with Hitler. We are in
complete media blindness. The same images and messages on all TV
channels. But, the most astonishing fact is that there is no strategic
media propaganda as expected. Once again, we are witnessing amateur
approach of the Yugoslav regime to the media. The Serbian Ministry of
Information decision to expel US, German, French and British journalists
is the best illustration for this misunderstanding of the role of media
in such circumstances. Of course, censorship is inevitable in the state
of war but they even do not consider the fact that Western media take
the advantage of this internal media blindness. For example, if the
information that several missiles and planes were shot down is correct,
why they do not show pictures of wrecks as Iraqi television always did?
No way, they have no idea that information war always goes together with
real war. Instead of moving images we see still images which cover the
reading of statements, talks, announcements, etc. Serbs are back to epic
rhetoric which stems from Kosovo myth and they are still more attracted
by spoken words than by images. The same images and the same rhetoric on
various TV channels indicates that media gave up their productive role
in favor of mere reproduction of the same message. The funny thing is
that in interviews given to foreign media, Yugoslav politicians use the
same pathetic rhetoric and the same arguments they use when addressing
to local media. They still do not understand that national mythology
and history cannot be proper arguments in contemporary world. It turns
out that interviews of distinguished Yugoslav sportsmen in Europe and
America produced more positive effects on public opinion abroad than
these confusing and unclear statements of the politicians. Why?
Experienced in media conventions abroad, they know how to address
foreign media in simple and decent words, devoid of pathetic phrases and
historical arguments.
I have not checked the official web sites, but no doubt that they
reflect the same media ignorance. Few independent daily newspapers which
still come out (reducing number of pages each day) also reproduce
official statements and announcements in the same, more or less
patriotic manner. But what will have happen with the independent media
after the war (if any of them survives)? Is there going to be any space
for objective analysis of this catastrophe?

Dejan Sretenovic

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