What are we the sum of in these new geo-political circumstances? How much does the media cross these new boundaries? How intrigued are they by the new particular realities?

 Dzevdet Tuzlic

Tito, Andric, Krleza, Selimovic, Copic, Konstantinovic, Mesic, Djajic, Osim, Sekularac, Susic, Cerar, Monica Seles, Lepa Brena, Ekaterina Velika, Bijelo Dugme, Parni valjak, Leb i sol…

Before social media these were the news and cover stars of Belgrade’s NIN and Politika, Zagreb’s Start, Sarajevo’s AS, Ljubljana’s Mladina, Titograd’s pobjeda, Nova Makedonija.. in a joint programme of Yugoslav Radio Television, in Green megahertz…

And then a new technological revolution broke out and with it came social networks, making information globally accessible.

The war in the Balkans also broke out, and life became like the title of Esad Cimic’s book ‘Politics as fate’; some strange ‘Balkan shadows’ clouded over us, we started listening to different national anthems, supporting different heroes, despite them often having cost others their lives…

What are we the sum of in these new geo-political circumstances? How much does the media cross these new boundaries? How intrigued are they by the new particular realities?

Story One

There was a recent report, on a regional TV channel, about a Serbian blacksmith and self-made poet. The only reason he didn’t become a carpenter is because he made the wrong cut on a wood board, his father was upset, so he ended up learning his craft in the blacksmith shop. Over there, he cut a metal bar where he shouldn’t have, but his boss wasn’t upset. He told him to mend it and cut again. There is no room for repairs in the carpentry business, whereas the blacksmiths’ allowed for it. This was the deciding factor.

The TV story about the poet-blacksmith is great. The problem is, only  subscribers of that certain TV operator had the chance to see it. There is no craze for positive human stories in agency news, newspapers, on television. Daily political quarrels are favored.

The most recent example is Janez Jansa’s ‘non paper’ about the alleged peaceful disappearance of an entire state. The front pages and prime time slots of regional TV stations have been buzzing about it for days. The interview of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on a private Sarajevo television is the number one topic.

Who outside Slovenia reported that Anze Lanisek is the 9th jumper in the world, and who outside Croatia shared the news that Filip Zupcic is the third giant slalom skier in the world, that Lana Pudar from Mostar competed in Belgrade, achieving a phenomenal result in the 100 meter butterfly race, qualifying for Tokyo Olympics?

Story two

A unique and noble dilemma is recorded only in the novelised biography “Lijan’s Dream”.

The head of a controversial Herzegovinian family anxiously asked his sons ‘what should I do, who should I cheer for, my guys are playing our guys?’.  The match in question was a basketball game between BiH and Croatia.

Do you think that this dilemma was interesting to ‘mine’ and ‘our’ media !?

Story three

Banja Luka’s portal ‘Buka’ caused commotion in the region with its anti-hate speech campaign.  ‘Hate SLOVEni, jos ste zivi’.* Over 5 million views. Encouraging counter-attack on hate speech. No political correctness in uncovering the lie that there is no such thing as hate speech. The most accurate signal that there is hatred, and that the war was only one episode, is the ‘us’ and ‘them’ division. Champions of this rhetoric are the young, who haven’t even tasted war. Who inspires them? Whose tools are they?

Story four

Is hate speech initiated by politicians, public figures..? Like Emir Kusturica discussing a topic which is as distant to him as the starry sky is to the naked eye !? The film author talks about the adoption of the law on Cyrillic and same-sex marriage. And then manages to get all the way to Draza Mihailovic, whose Chetnik ideology he declares to be anti-fascist. He made a ball pass, and added fuel to the fire.

Story five

Despite divided views on the origins of the pandemic, I believe the potential creators had at least one honourable intention: to unite the world with a planetary disaster? Politics does not seem to follow such a logic. Presidents of countries suddenly became humanists, ceremoniously donating or accepting vaccines. But they also think about all the points they can earn. There’s always an election on the horizon. So they use the opportunity to paint themselves as unquestionable champions of contagion with a wide range of expertise.

Story six

It was a day of mourning in Sarajevo. General Jovo Divjak died. And while ordinary people have lamented, in analysing the media responses, the findings are twofold. Some accompanied it with touching commentary, others ignored his death or declared him ‘an apostate of his people’.

A new platform to incite hatred.

Inspired by the title of Abdulah Sidran’s poem, written almost 50 years ago, we should ask ourselves: Really – you and I – what are we the sum of?

And let’s remain positive; except of course on the corona test.


*play on words on the former Yugoslav national anthem, ‘Hey Slavs, you’re still alive’


Dzevdet Tuzlic, bosnia-herzegovinian journalist with decades of experience in both radio, television, and print media