News 25 May 12

Journalists Disagree Over Sarajevo Siege Reports

While Bosnian journalists believe that the Serbian media reported the Sarajevo siege anniversary in an unbiased way for the very first time, Serbian journalists say that the reporting has not greatly improved since the 1990s.

Marija Ristic
Serbian and Bosnian journalist during the debate I Photo by Dani Sarajeva 

During the debate held after the movie “Sarajevo Roses - Terror in 12 pictures”, which shows the Sarajevo siege through the eyes of the victims that testified in front of the Hague Tribunal, Serbian and Bosnian journalists looked at the way the 20th anniversary of the siege has been reported in the media. 

Dzenana Karup Drusko, a journalist with the Dani magazine, a Sarajevo weekly, said that the Belgrade media were less biased than the media in Republika Srpska in their reporting of the anniversary.

“The reports from Belgrade were unbiased - based on the facts, while in Banja Luka some media denied that the siege actually took place. The animosity between the two ethnicities has lessened, we have made some progress, but we could do more,” says Drusko.

Her colleague from Serbia, the president of the Independent Association of Journalist of Vojvodina, Dinko Gruhonjic, disagrees, arguing that the media reports from the 90s and now are more or less the same.

“All the media have reported about the Sarajevo siege, but no one actually said who committed those war crimes. The media were previously in denial about war crimes, and now the media started to relativize the things happened in the 1990s,” says Gruhonjic.

Nemanja Stjepanovic, a Serbian journalist working for the Sense agency, agrees, noting that a level of hatred between people in the region still exists and that the reason for this is the refusal of the state and media to tell the truth about horrors of the Balkan war.

Dusan Janjic from the Serbian Independent Association of Journalist says that media lacks a sense of responsibility to society at present  – there are a few daily reports about the war, but the serious, in depth stories are missing.

“The media should report the stories of ordinary people, people who faced dramas and tragedies during the war, so that people in Serbia can see what the people in Bosnia have really gone through,” explains Janjic.

All the journalists agreed that the future focus of the media should be on telling younger generations about the war, as their school textbooks lack basic factual information regarding the conflicts in the 1990s, while their parents are giving them just one side of the story. The media has an important part to play  in telling  them the truth.

The debate formed part of the festival Days of Sarajevo [Dani Sarajeva], the aim of which is to introduce Bosnian artists to the Belgrade audience as a showcase of regional cultural cooperation.



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