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<nettime> (Fwd) IWPR FRY Media Monitoring Bulletin 2

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From:          "Alan Davis" <alan@iwpr.org.uk>
To:            ash@gn.apc.org
Date:          Tue, 24 Nov 1998 17:32:11 +0000
Subject:       IWPR FRY Media Monitoring Bulletin 2
Reply-to:      IWPR Listmanagers <listmanagers@iwpr.org.uk>


   Welcome to Media Focus. IWPR's bi-weekly electronic service analysing
   the media in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

   Media Focus will appear every two weeks in both English and Serbian. In
   this issue, we concentrate on two topics: Kosovo and reactions to the
   newly-adopted Serbian Law on Public Information, under which several
   independent media have been banned or forced to close down.

   Media Focus is a project of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting
   (IWPR) in London. Due to the introduction of the new Serbian Law on
   Public Information, we have been compelled to adjust our plan of writing
   and producing the bulletin in Belgrade, with our team led by Nenad Sebek
   and in association with the research agency Argument and the Belgrade
   Media Centre. The bulletin is now written and produced by IWPR/London.

   The project is generously supported by the European Commission and the
   UK Department for International Development (DFID).

   Please address any comments on Media Focus to Alan Davis

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   London November 23

   Monitoring Period 2-11 November 1998


   The Kosovo political tangle took up much space and time in the press and
   on television and radio programmes during the monitored period, just as
   it has in recent months. However, in the state-run and pro-government
   Belgrade and Novi Sad media, the choice of information, especially the
   method, place and time of its presentation, was quite different in tone
   than during the period preceding the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement and
   the few weeks that followed it. The abundance of news reports and topics
   discussed, as well as the omission of others, reflected an apparent
   effort on the part of the media to portray the situation in Kosovo as
   fully normalised.


   The editors of Radio Television Serbia's (RTS's) prime-time news
   broadcast (Dnevnik 2) ignored reports on the negotiating process and the
   clashes in Kosovo provoked by actions of the Kosovo Liberation Army

   With regard to the negotiating process, in the first three monitored
   days, RTS carried only a statement issued after a meeting between
   Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and US special envoy Christopher
   Hill: on one occasion, the statement was quoted as stating that 'it was
   noted' while on the other that  'it was jointly noted,' giving no
   indication whether the statement was issued by Milutinovic's office or
   was made by a disinterested observer. RTS completely ignored the further
   course of the negotiations and Hill's statements (Nov 2), which included
   a call on Belgrade to present its own timetable for talks on the future
   of Kosovo.

   Conspicuously, the report was not mentioned in the news headlines, so
   the impression was that it was a regular, matter of course meeting. This
   fact is especially important in the context of earlier signals from NATO
   headquarters (relayed by the non-government media) that on Monday, Nov.
   2, the Serb side was expected to come up with a concrete proposal to
   solve Kosovo?s status. This low-key approach was obviously intended to
   lead the audience to conclude that the problem of Kosovo had been solved
   (by the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement, and measures taken by the Serbian
   government, etc), i.e. that the ?situation in Kosovo is improving daily?
   (excerpt from a news conference given by FRY Deputy Prime Minister
   Nikola Sainovic and Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, Monday, Nov. 2).
   There were no reports on the activities of the KLA other than those in
   connection with the abduction of two Tanjug reporters. RTS made no
   mention of the attacks on the police and the Belacevac coal mine.

   This picture of normalisation of life in Kosovo, suggesting that Kosovo
   is no longer the topic of negotiations and is free from armed clashes,
   was backed up by reports of economic achievements. Thus, on Nov. 2, it
   was reported that ?in spite of the well-known circumstances? the
   galvanised sheet factory in Vucitrn was ?operating better than ever
   before?; and on Nov. 4, a report on the welded pipe factory in Urosevac
   announced that the factory expected a record output by the end of the


   On a day  marked by the abduction of two policemen in Kosovo (Nov. 7),
   the refusal by Kosovo Serbs in Pristina to be represented by the Serbian
   president in future talks, and the arrival of the first OSCE verifiers
   in Pristina, RTS began its Dnevnik 2 with a report from Mount Kopaonik
   introduced by the following words: ?This weekend in Belgrade began with
   a rather cold, late-autumn or almost wintry day?. There was no mention
   of the above events throughout the broadcast.

   Those who watched Dnevnik 2 on Nov. 6 were not told that a group of
   armed Albanians had attacked a police patrol on the Suva Reka-Orahovac
   road and lost five men; that Richard Holbrooke had said in Berlin that
   Slobodan Milosevic had promised to let war crimes tribunal investigators
   into Yugoslavia, and especially, Kosovo, and that UN Secretary General
   Kofi Annan had called for an enhanced presence of human rights monitors
   in Kosovo. And on Nov. 9, Dnevnik 2 omitted to report from Brussels that
   European Union foreign ministers had decided at a meeting not to restore
   abolished trade benefits to the FRY and Serbia.

   The policy of the editors of Dnevnik is not only to ignore an event, but
   also to make comments on it in spite of the fact that the audience is
   ignorant of the event. For example, on Nov. 7, they ignored the fourth
   extraordinary Serb conference in Pristina attended by Serbian Orthodox
   Church leaders, but nevertheless put their attitude across by quoting
   part of a Serbian Renewal Party statement condemning the participants.

   On the other hand, the ?business-as-usual? approach, aimed at reassuring
   and anaesthetising the public, is employed in cases when an event cannot
   be passed over. Thus the first ?on-the-spot? report to appear in the
   monitored period (Nov. 9), on the killing of two policemen in Malisevo,
   was released in the 13th minute without any photograph or footage,
   despite the fact that reporters had been granted access to the scene.
   The news was read while the camera focused on map of Kosovo and

   The existence of the 'Kosovo Plan' was first mentioned the following day
   (Nov. 10), but as part of a Serbian government statement denying rumours
   of Hill?s new plan. Throughout the monitored period, the first minutes
   of Dnevnik 2 were devoted to reports on visits by state delegations and
   to economic performance. The visits and contacts were covered thoroughly
   and prominently day after day. For instance, a report on co-operation
   with Beijing University was repeated three times. Everything which can
   be used to prove the correctness of the official policy is welcome. This
   includes favourable comments from ceremonial and formal occasions as
   well as reactions by the Beijing Youth Journal, which has become quite
   well-known in the FRY by now.


   The editorial policy of the Belgrade-based daily Politika was generally
   in the same vein. Its choice and presentation of information is
   apparently calculated at gradually deflecting the public?s attention
   from the Kosovo crisis. While the number of news items dealing with the
   Kosovo problem was reduced, the campaign of glorification of the
   Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement continued. The tertiary sector (health
   care, education, publishing) was dealt with in a number of articles.
   Reports from Kosovo were being moved from the home political affairs
   pages to the crime pages. There were no headlines on Kosovo events even
   in the main news summary regularly printed in a box on the front page.

   The second page was as a rule reserved for reactions supporting the
   official line that the situation in Kosovo is becoming normal (?No
   resumption of military intervention threats? according to special envoy
   Richard Holbrooke, ?Significant improvement of the situation in Kosovo?
   according to the US assistant secretary of state for population,
   refugees and migration, Julia Taft, p.2, Nov. 2).

   By far the most dominant topic was the sentence passed on the two Tanjug
   journalists by the military court of the KLA (at least 17 articles
   devoted to condemnation of the event and printed on the main home
   affairs pages 14-16). Reactions to the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement
   continued to be published, and the agreement occasionally praised,
   though somewhat less prominently. The choice of articles was such as to
   paint the agreement in a positive light.

   Somewhat different undertones were detected in the daily?s general
   coverage of events in Kosovo in the second half of the monitored period:
   Kosovo stories were gradually moved to the main pages, implying that in
   spite of the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement, 'the terrorists were still
   active'. The terminology used had the aim of presenting the problem as
   less severe: 'the terrorists are still on the rampage?, 'the KLA no
   longer exists', only 'smashed-up terrorist gangs [are] moving about in
   small groups' and 'making provocations'. Yet the daily?s interest in
   Kosovo developments was wider and more active.

   However, the Nov. 10 report on the killing of the two policemen was only
   published on p. 15. Interestingly, after quite some time, Politika
   published the same day on the same page a brief Tanjug dispatch from a
   conference of the opposition Democratic Party of Serbiaprobably because
   someone at the conference said something in support of the daily?s
   current line. The dispatch was published under the headline ?US
   responsibility for the continuation of terrorism in Kosmet?.


   Judging by the number of its reports, Radio Belgrade took care, in its
   regular programme ?Argument vise? (an extra argument), not to miss any
   of Yugoslavia?s numerous international activities: Yugoslav Foreign
   Minister Zivadin Jovanovic addressing a meeting of the chairmen of
   chambers of commerce of central and south-eastern European countries,
   Serbian government Minister Milovan Bojic speaking at international
   fairs in Novi Sad, state and economic delegations paying visits to India
   and Israel, a delegation of the Federal Assembly attending a meeting of
   the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Russia and Belarus.

   Also, it kept suggesting that Yugoslavia?s reintegration into the
   international community was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, the
   sheer volume of information could scarcely make up for the lack of
   substance. Furthermore, the programme?s somewhat more liberal concept
   could not justify the glaring absence of any information incompatible
   with the station?s glorification of the authorities.


   Radio Belgrade?s long-running and formerly cult programme ?Nedeljom u
   10? (Sunday at 10), introduced as a survey of ?people, events and
   trends?, focused in its last issue on the problem of Kosovo and on
   current domestic and foreign activities aimed at settling the crisis.
   The programme is a compilation of comments on and reactions to current
   affairs and problems, and represents a proving ground for the political
   commentators of the biggest state-run radio station as well as a tool
   for the transmission of official views.

   The programme commentators make the most of their right to a personal
   point of view, although they do not feel in the least obliged to
   substantiate it with fact and context. For instance, Milika Sundic, the
   pliant high priest of regime commentators, launched the thesis that the
   US and its allies were trying, with the help of ?terrorists and Albanian
   extremist leaders?, to wrest from Serbia commitments not included in the
   Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement on a political solution to the Kosovo
   crisis. This commentator, who only a few weeks before was full of praise
   for the role of the special envoy Holbrooke, now views the activities
   and intentions of the US and its allies with suspicion.

   The turnabout in Radio Belgrade?s (or at least in its commentators?)
   attitude towards the US role was borne out in the monitored programme by
   the journalist Miroslav Markovic, who described Holbrooke critically as
   a ?professed peace fighter?.


   The editors of Radio Belgrade?s evening news programme, ?Dnevnik?,
   focused on economic achievements and did not pay much attention to
   Kosovo problems and events. The exception was Adem Demaci?s visit to the
   Visoki Decani monastery: in her commentary on Nov. 3, lasting five
   minutes and twenty seconds, Ana Andric condemned all the participants in
   the event. She accused Demaci, the political representative of the KLA,
   of ?desecrating the sacred soil of the Serb state? and slammed the
   church dignitary, hieromonk Sava, for shaking ?Demaci?s blood-stained
   hand? and especially for the lack of hospitality and courtesy on his
   part during the Serbian president's visit to the monastery. The
   commentary was broadcast earlier that day in the programme ?Argument

   The editors of ?Dnevnik? are particularly careful to avoid even the
   slightest suggestion that anything is amiss in Serbia and put the
   activities of the ruling coalition on the same level as those of the
   state and government organs.

   The Novi Sad daily Dnevnik, used a similar approach in its commentary on
   the Congress of the Democratic Party (DPS) of Socialists of Montenegro.
   The author?s chief purpose was to accuse the Montenegrin leadership of
   authoritarianism, separatism, collusion with criminals and personal
   enrichment. His tone was threatening and he made some personal insults:
   ?The recently-held Third Congress, as those in the DPS prefer to call
   it...?, or ?Djukanovic and the set of his yes-men...?, or ?...the
   chameleon-like National Party of Novak Kilibarda?. The punch-line reads:
   ?And he, Djukanovic, is for a Yugoslavia he wants to build with the
   "democratic forces" of Serbia personified by opposition leaders Zoran
   Djindjic, Vesna Pesic and other "forces". He considers them more
   reliable than the patriotic forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
   (?Djukanovic?s "power-bastion" ?, Slavica Dragovic, Nov. 4, p. 5).

   Dnevnik?s comment on the end of the Congress was along the same lines
   (same author, Nov. 8, p. 4). Its main objection, that the proceedings
   were not public, was used to draw the conclusion that unity within the
   party is seriously undermined, that ?the only "correct" things are those
   done behind the scenes, because they are profitable?, and that the
   effects of this policy are deeply felt because ?in Montenegro people are
   not better off, but worse off?. A further conclusion based on the
   foregoing (and nothing else) is that ?people no longer fall for the
   argument that Montenegro needs independence in order to be better off?
   and that ?everybody realises that evil does not come from the other
   federal unit, but from the authorities in Montenegro who, in trying to
   privatise the state for the sake of one man, are trying to privatise
   their (Montenegrins?) lives?. In passing, the author mentions that the
   Congress invited ?the opponents (our italics) of the Federal Republic of
   Yugoslavia?, namely Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic, the leaders of those
   opposition parties not participating in the government.


   Politika ekspres published reports on the cease-fire violations of the
   KLA and the trial of Tanjug?s journalists, but its focus of attention
   was the work of the OSCE verifiers. Their activities were presented in
   an extremely unfavourable light in a brief article entitled ?Terrorists
   shoot, observers observe? (R. Negojevic, Nov. 2). The intention to
   portray the verifiers as arrogant was in evidence both on the front page
   (?they travel from place to place in powerful Pajero jeeps, observing
   but not reacting?) and in the article itself (they move about in ?white,
   powerful Japanese Pajero jeeps, with even more powerful radio stations
   and hand-picked translators - Albanians?). The author points out that
   the verifiers are working for the benefit of the Albanians and to the
   detriment of the Serb people but does not quote any sources to back up
   the allegation; he merely uses the expression ?it has been learned?.
   Negojevic did not witness any of the events described in the article.

   Nor were the verifiers spared from being held up to ridicule by the
   daily?s jokers. In the humour column ?Glog? (hawthorn) (Nov. 10, p. 12),
   they published the following text entitled ?An inconvenient place?: ?In
   a Kosovo village, a man tries to make love to his wife behind a
   haystack. "Not here," she says, hesitatingly, "someone might verify us".


   The Belgrade-based Vecernje novosti gradually increased its coverage of
   the Kosovo crisis using its customary large and suggestive headlines to
   drive the message home. The daily?s long-established practice of
   tailoring statements and reporting restrictively rather than providing
   comprehensive coverage, as well as its reliance solely on sources
   uncritical of the authorities, was particularly evident in the monitored
   period. For instance, the report on the meeting between the Italian
   foreign minister Lamberto Dini and the US Secretary of State Madeleine
   Albright in Washington quotes only Dini, the editor having apparently
   decided that his statement was less unfavourable than Albright?s.

   The situation in Kosovo, in the context of the international community?s
   attitude towards the crisis, was dealt with by the daily?s column
   ?Direktno? (directly). The column is representative of the style and
   vocabulary frequently used by the daily in its on-the-spot reports, but
   also in its coverage of official meetings in Kosovo, comments on Kosovo
   and especially writers? comments. A well-documented, informative and

   topical comment (this time done in a highly professional manner) abounds
   with phrases such as ?Shiptar (a term to describe Kosovo Albanians,
   often used in Serbia in a derogatory way) militarists?, ?Shiptar
   secessionists?, ?Albanian secessionists? and ?bellicose KLA-ites? (Milos
   Miljkovic, Tuesday, Nov. 10, p. 2). The language characteristic of the
   daily dominates all the texts on Kosovo (headline ?The lists turn
   yellow?, ?Shiptar gangs?, ?Shiptar terrorist gangs?, ?Shiptar bandits?),
   D. Dimitrovska, Tuesday, Nov. 10, ?U zizi? (in focus) column. The
   editors? patriotic attitude with regard to references to Kosovo
   Albanians has been in evidence for several weeks.


   MediaFocus finds three main trends in reporting by the Kosovo Albanian
   language media monitored. Firstly, there is a visible effort on their
   part to play down the implementation of the Milosevic-Holbrooke
   agreement and the calming down of the situation in Kosovo. Secondly, the
   KLA is accorded exceptional publicity. Thirdly, Yugoslavia, the state of
   which Kosovo is still a part, is completely ignored.


   Although the situation in Kosovo remains dramatic and grave, according
   to these media there have been no positive achievements at all. All
   three dailies persistently report the ?continuation of terror by Serb
   forces?. Here are some headlines from the daily Bujku: ?Klina and its
   neighbourhood: arrests, intimidation, shooting and plundering? (Nov. 5);
   ?Serb forces provoke the international community? and ?A conflict in
   Drenoc avoided by mere accident? (Nov. 6). The intention to prove that
   nothing new is taking place in Kosovo is obvious, although it is
   indirectly admitted that the offensive of the army and  police forces
   has stopped. On Nov. 3, Bujku published on the first three pages no
   fewer than nine articles alleging an ?enhanced presence of Serb forces?.
   If any source is quoted at all, it is invariably an Albanian one, mostly
   statements made by the KLA and the Kosovo Information Centre, which is,
   in effect, the news service of the Democratic League of Kosovo.

   Koha ditore has replaced its column ?War in Kosovo? with the column
   ?Situation on the ground? although the descriptions given in the latter
   are no less dramatic. Especially interesting is a report from Klina
   (Nov. 10, p. 2) entitled ?Police keep arriving, the kidnapping of
   Albanians continues?. The alleged kidnapping is only referred to once,
   in a sentence running as follows: ?Serbian police patrols are kidnapping
   people, especially young ones, daily while UNHCR teams are prevented
   from helping pregnant women?. No source, no detail about so shocking an
   event ? if it occurred at all.


   All three principal Albanian-language dailies - Koha ditore, Kosova sot
   and Bujku - strongly played up the KLA's presence on the ground and give
   more space to the organisation?s statements than to those of Kosovo
   Albanian political parties. All of them published photographs of KLA
   members patrolling woods in new uniforms and carrying new weapons,
   implying the organisation?s growing strength. All three also carried all
   KLA statements, both by the regional and main headquarters. Koha ditore
   called the KLA political representative in Switzerland, Bardhyl Mahmuti,
   the ?ambassador of the Kosovo insurgents? (Nov. 2, p. 3).

   Interestingly, Kosova sot printed the acronym KLA (Albanian ?UCK?) on
   its front page (Nov. 4) in larger print than its own name. The former
   drive to bring ethnic Albanians together has given over to an all-out
   build-up of the KLA and the ethnic Albanians? armed struggle in Kosovo.

   A drastic example of the abuse of journalistic ethics is the use and
   even abuse of children. The first example of this practice was found in
   Koha ditore (Nov. 6), which published on its front page the photograph
   of a child in a cradle with a KLA emblem above it. On one side of the
   emblem are photographs of Ibrahim Rugova and Adem Demaci, on the other
   those of Rexhep Qosja and Idriz Ajeti, both prominent Albanian
   intellectuals. The photograph raises something of a dilemma: will the
   future of Albanian children be decided by the politicians (Rugova and
   Demaci) or the academicians (Qosja and Ajeti), with the Kosovo
   Liberation Army between them and directly above the child?

   Kosova sot is not averse to using photographs of children for the
   purpose of political enlistment either. On Nov. 8, it published the
   photograph of a boy aged two or three, with the caption reading: ?If
   necessary, we too will fight until we are finally liberated?.


   As a rule, developments in Serbia and Yugoslavia are ignored, including
   such burning topics as the newly-adopted Law on Public Information and
   its consequences for the media. The dailies briefly reported the
   adoption of the law, but paid hardly any attention to the consequent
   trials and the confiscation of newspaper copies. If they cannot help
   mentioning the name of the state - the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -
   they print it in inverted commas. The terms Yugoslavia and FRY are put
   in inverted commas even if they appear in quotations of foreign articles
   in which there are no inverted commas. Federal or republican affairs are
   reported only if they have a bearing on Kosovo life.

   Yugoslavia and Serbia are in most cases described as ?occupiers?,
   whereas the prevailing reference to the police and the army is the ?Serb
   army of occupation?. The established name for Kosovo in all three
   newspapers is the ?Kosovo Republic? (recognised only by Albania), while
   Ibrahim Rugova, the president of the Democratic League of Kosovo, is
   referred to as the ?President of the Kosovo Republic?. According to
   Bujku, Serbian President Milan Milutinovic?s visit to Kosovo did not
   take place. The daily completely ignored the visit, Milutinovic?s
   statements, and his meetings in Pristina. Bujku also failed to mention

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