We aim for independent media… and we shall continue

Source/Author: [:en]Vera Soldo for newsletter "E-novinar"[:ba]Vera Soldo za bilten “E-novinar”[:]

Sarajevo, 13.12.2016.-Aiming for independent media is just as old as the first media itself. Just as the aspiration of politics, that is, politicians, to influence media, due to their significance in forming public opinion – their potential voters, including their ambitions to claim the government. Different pressures imposed by the politics on media and journalists in BiH, and not only in BiH, absolutely represent nothing new. One of the key problems is money as crucial mean and source used to impose pressure on media, “blackmailing with reason”; money buys media affection, money represents the guarantee for “silence”. In 1787 Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them. However, how can the present situation in BiH be considered and defined in relation with this issue? As one could see – it’s far from being good. Namely, the ranking list of non – governmental organization Freedom House, BiH is ranked 104 out of 156 European countries regarding media liberties. This Year’s Report represented a comprehensive analysis based on legal, political and economic factors that impact the access of news and information provided. Many questions thus follow: why are politicians closely bound and tied with media owners and are they the actual media owners, co – owners or even secret media owners? Let us refer to former Italian president, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi who, at the time, was the owner of TV, radio station and news papers; also Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister who is also believed to have close ties and connections with certain printed and electronic media houses, Ivo Sanader, former Croatian Prime Minister, who had been widely financing certain media houses, Fahrudin Radoncic, SBB leader and former Minister of Security, who is officially the owner of printed and electronic media house. Unofficially, the things seem much different than they appear; namely the tie and connection between Ivo Pukanic, deceased and former owner of “Nacional”, a weekly magazine, with highly ranked politicians in Croatia etc. We keep looking for the answer to these questions although actually we do know the answers or we remain silent, because the problem is (and it shall be in the future) to state openly that the emperor is naked! Namely, the great role in the independent work of media houses is actually best seen through the money. Money is necessary in order to pay wages to journalists, frequencies, publishing houses, domains, web hosting, administrative staff, montage staff, cameramen, studio facilities, phone bills, electricity bills etc and the media survival in cruel life storm and unstable democracy is often considered as mission impossible. It is this occurrence that is misused by politicians that require power, and, as we all know, money goes with the power and this is where, (and this does not happen in BiH only, but also happens in all surrounding countries), the circle of media and politics dependence closes down. Otherwise, the journalists’ enthusiasm remained, just as the love towards journalism has turned into a favorite hobby instead. Financing of web pages represents a solid example of an interesting review regarding this specific issue. Advertising agencies urge for more “clicks” from their clients and massively use social media networks (which to some extent can be understandable), because more visits to their web page would guarantee that their advertisement shall be better presented, including all associated items that are subject to sale throughout this particular web page. But, frequent visits does not necessarily mean better content quality, at least not in terms of an uninformed and critical approach towards events and their professional (and responsible) presentation to their visitors. Believe it or not, greater visits are often recorded with web pages containing “trash” topics, as oppose to seriously drafted and critical web sites. Often quoted, very influential, quality based – content web sites sometimes lose money in this competition. Their destiny is indeed inevitable. However, no matter how inevitable their future work is, the fact is that there are many journalists whose monthly wages hardly exceed BAM 500.00. Taking this particular fact into consideration, exclusive investigative story shall remain deluxe; exposing and revealing corruption and fraud at the highest level of politics, spheres of political lives, journalist creativity and courage as oppose to courage of often, raw agency – provided news that often “saturate and flood” BiH media scene. Unfortunately, BiH will need more time to find itself in the first part of Freedom House scale. This however, on the other hand, is exactly what many politicians, willing to govern, actually wish and desire.