Hot Topic - Media in the Western Balkans
The closing of a newspaper does not attract much attention these days. Economics are unforgiving, we’ve learned. And no media platform can escape. There are other pressures, equally powerful, ready to crush.
An article of faith among adherents to democratic principles is the significance of an independent public broadcasting service. Even commercial competitors, broadcasting and otherwise, accept, however tepidly, that public broadcasters lift the media market creatively and economically. None of that matters to the recently risen illiberal dictators and oligarchs. The consequence has unleashed a return to State broadcasting, easier on the populist ears and eyes.
For media outlets in fledgling democracies getting ahead of the curve, so to speak, is difficult. Agents of media development, largely from the outside, will do only so much, particularly as results depend on factors unseen and unexpected. Local owners and operators see only hard decisions. Those on the front-line are left to their own wit and wisdom.
Public broadcasters working under constrained independence, administrative and financial, risk default to State broadcasting. Those separated barely a generation from dogmatic control face stiff resistance to new and open practice. Authorities always prefer a pliant mouthpiece.
The health of a media market can be measured by one particular vital sign, the radio sector. Listeners are engaged by stories and songs, dialects and sounds making radio stations part of the local conversation. Reliable and accessible yet always changing radio is the perfect bridge to the new media environment. Advertisers benefit from this and, in turn, make radio broadcasting a good business. That is, in theory, the way it’s supposed to work.
Self-regulation bodies that set standards in the media sphere are widely seen as good things, a mature approach to proscribing bad practices. The distasteful alternatives range from irresponsible chaos – yelling fire in a crowded theater – to legislated regulation – government censorship. The printed media has, more or less, adopted self-regulation as a means of keeping politicians out of their newsrooms while keeping a watchful eye on the politicians.
Ranking the attributes of any country’s media sector is acceptably subjective. There is the obvious, not so obvious and uncovered. As in physics, the act of observing changes things. Physics also reminds us that objects at rest tend to fall apart.
Western Balkans - The Struggle For Order And Independence
ftm reporting explores media development and investment in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia / Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Albania. Emerging from conflict broadcasters, publishers and governments face ghosts of the past to forge a new future. Includes Resources, 78 pages PDF (February 2013)
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The Campaign Is On - Elections and Media – new
Elections campaigns are big media events. Candidates and issues are presented, analyzed and criticized in broadcast and print. Media is now more of a participant in elections than ever. This ftm Knowledge file reports on news coverage, advertising, endorsements and their effect on democracy at work. 84 pages. PDF (September 2017)
Fake News, Hate Speech and Propaganda
The institutional threat of fake news, hate speech and propaganda is testing the mettle of those who toil in news media. Those three related evils are not new, by any means, but taken together have put the truth and those reporting it on the back foot. Words matter. This ftm Knowledge file explores that light. 48 pages, PDF (March 2017)
In the media sphere nothing is more important than knowing the audience. Once in a generation a target group evolves to catch the attention of publishers and broadcasters, advertisers and media buyers, social critics and politicians. The Millennials, also known as Generation Y and digital natives, are it, with unique characteristics and behaviors. They have already reshaped everything we do. 35 pages, PDF (December 2016)
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