Even those who in the days after passing of the Resolution of the Montenegrin Parliament on Srebrenica did not follow the media in Serbia, and at the same time have at least a basic understanding of what they looked like in recent years – can easily guess how the event was reported. It was written and spoken uncritically, unilaterally, without any desire to understand and ascertain; hatred was spread, inciting of intolerance, and well-known methods of disqualification of political dissidents were applied.
Media laws seem to have never existed, the Codex of Journalists of Serbia seems to have never been written, the Ministry of Culture and Information seems to have suddenly lost its sight, hearing, and public announcements power, and the Regulatory Body for electronic media was not present anyway and usually does not do its job.
THE ONE WHO BETRAYS …
Since the passing of the Resolution in the evening of June 17, which was too late for the press, the newspaper editors had a whole day for decorating and enriching the matter. Out of the nine national dailies that existed at the time, only three retained within the framework of professional and decent: Blic assessed that there was a “great crisis of power” in Montenegro, Politika which wrote that “the Government of Montenegro is in Milo’s embrace “and Danas, who accurately foresaw that “a new estrangement of relations between Serbia and Montenegro is looming “.
On the other hand, the leftist tabloids “excelled” as only they can: Informer described the passing of the Resolution as “the darkest, the worst attack on Serbia”, Večernje Novosti remarked that “Krivokapić and Bečić hit the Serbs with the earmark of genocide”, the Serbian Telegraph publicized it like the “fall of the government in Montenegro”, while the champion title of media disgrace was still conquested by the newspapers Kurir, Alo and Objektiv. Along with a photo of Zdravko Krivokapić, the Kurir wrote all in upper-cases ” Stumbled! Montenegro is smaller compared with what a big traitor Krivokapić is “, Alo explained everything with just one word” High Treason “, while Objektiv paraphrased a raffish joke and remarked, ” Who betrays, Zdravko “.
The exact situation happened on televisions. On the leftist ones (which make up the vast majority), there were guests lined up – analysts, historians, politicians – who incited passions, used “strong” words, and presented the whole matter much more than one-sidedly. On the other hand, those few who are not controlled by the authorities, provided the opportunity to hear some dissonant tone: for example, the historian Milan St. Protić told the FoNet agency that “that Resolution was very nicely worded, elegant and balanced”, but that could not be seen on the most popular televisions.
Here, as in many previous cases, it has been shown that the local media and journalists suffer from a “lack of dissociating” and a complete lack of desire to explain something to their audience. Primarily, the text of the resolution could not be SEEN practically anywhere – for that, the audience from Serbia had to turn to Montenegrin portals and other sources. The more serious problem was that the media allowed their interlocutors to say whatever they wanted, even to spread hate speech, without dissociating themselves in any way. When the interlocutor says that someone is a “traitor” (and it happened a lot), the journalist is bound to alert him that such a vocabulary is not allowed, to explain why and to inform viewers/readers that this is not the editorial policy of that media. That, however, did not happen on any television or in any newspaper.
A TRIED – AND- TRUE FORMULA
Professionally, the most shameful segment of reporting on the Resolution, however, is the tabloid attack on the family of Zdravko Krivokapić, that is, on his daughters. It was reproached to them in several newspapers that they “work and earn money in the middle of Belgrade”, and their father “spits on Serbia”; their identities were revealed, as well as details of their privacy – which was certainly not in the public interest. When these two young women complained, stating that they did not feel safe, the tabloids “by hook or by crook” were raised again, claiming that they were not in any danger. As a response to all this, Aleksandar Vučić guaranteed safety to Krivokapić’s daughters promising that nothing would happen to them – at the same time, however, that opportunity was used to remind them of the alleged Montenegrin sins towards Serbia, which helped neither to general security nor to the softening of passions.
As dangerous and unpleasant as it was, such reporting was still within the restraints of what has been regularly seen on the Serbian media scene so far. However, this does not mean that it is something normal and socially acceptable. On the contrary. The case of the attack on Krivokapić’s daughters is one in a series of illustrations that show what the Serbian media look like. They have long since become an instrument by which political dissidents are first targeted, disqualified, and morally humiliated, then “dragged ” for days and dissected then, in the end, the matter would reach the President or the Prime Minister, who triumphantly “abolishes” the victim, they guarantee her safety and use all that for their political performance.
A MARATHON WITHOUT THE HONORARY CIRCLE
Nowhere near other important events that suddenly attract media attention, but very quickly vanishing from the public’s radar – the Resolution on Srebrenica is slowly becoming a marathon case, not losing its attractiveness over time. Almost a month after its passing, certainly not on the front pages, but very present: primarily through attacks on Montenegrin politicians that are ongoing.
The anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide gave additional wind to the sails to such a tendency.
The tabloid Alo stood out in the hate speech on those days, which described the visit of Milo Đukanović and Dritan Abazović in the Memorial Center in Potočari as follows: “Milo, The Defrocked, Dritan, Bečić adopted an anti-Serbian resolution, rushing to hold speeches in Srebrenica.” Abazović’s visit to Sarajevo also attracted attention, so the portal pravda.rs states that “the single day cannot pass” without him “not mentioning the Resolution”. The same media also reports that the Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro is “in Sarajevo as if at his own home”, which should probably have a nationalist connotation. An akin message, although a more subtle one, was conveyed by Novosti, which reminded of Abazović’s student days in Sarajevo, concluding that after the passing of the Resolution, Sarajevo allegedly “forgave” his earlier cooperation with Serbs.
It is especially interesting that the attention of far more professional media is not subsiding and that they, this time through the format of the author’s columns, are additionally inciting interethnic and interstate tensions. Thus, in the rubric “Views”, in which a column by SNS MP Nebojša Bakarec was published, who availed that platform also to relativize genocide, incite intolerance towards Montenegro, provoke a confrontation with political opponents, etc. All this could somehow, at least to a certain extent, be justified by freedom of speech and opinion, if it were not for one “detail”: as an MP of the ruling party, Bakarec has numerous opportunities to express his stance, answer journalists’ questions, give interviews. Why would he write a column? A column, in which there is nothing that has not been said already and repeated countlessly these days, from the highest state positions? I guess the goal was that anyone shouldn’t miss it.
The highlight of the media’s political hysteria may have been the statement of the President of United Serbia, Dragan Marković Palma, from a summer resort in Greece. Appearing in the morning program of Prva TV, on July 12, he said something inconceivable in normal circumstances and organized societies, and that the two hosts in the studio greeted with smiles and jests: “Let the citizens of Serbia decide where to go on holidays, but bear in mind that Montenegro was the first to recognize Kosovo’s independence , voted for Kosovo to join UNESCO and Interpol, and voted that the genocide in Srebrenica happened. “
It is hard to anticipate where and when all this will end at this moment. Having in mind the previous experiences and the bloody consequences of one-sided and passionate reporting, it’s high time for the media to settle down and thus allow the tensions to finally calm down and cool down the hotheads.
Unfortunately, it depends on them the least. Because in Serbia, only one editor decides about everything, and it seems that all this suits him very well.
This article was brought to you with the financial support of the European Union and the National Endowment for Democracy. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and publishers of the Media Institute of Montenegro and does not necessarily reflect the views of benefactors.