As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.
Brief overview of current trends in Serbian media
Societies affected by severe tragedies, especially when they are caused by human action, are looking for answers to the questions of who is responsible, whether the accident could have been avoided and what to do next. Serbia is no exception to this, and after the tragic events that occurred on May 3 and May 4, all the media dealt with this issue with numerous shows, interviews and comments with interlocutors of various profiles: from politicians, pedagogues, psychologists, sociologists and so on. Part of the media, as expected, led by the statement of the then Minister of Education Branko Ružić (who has since resigned from that position): blamed the influence of Western values and culture for what happened. Here we provide an overview of only some of the texts and statements that dealt with such vision of the situation in Serbian society:
Novosti published news under the title “Obradović blames Western values for the massacre at Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School”, in which the statement of the leader of Dveri was conveyed.
A Twitter post that sparked a heated debate.
Stanje stvari – „Ljiljana Čolić: Sharing the same values with the “democratic West”“
Srbin info published the news “Massacre at the school as a means of disarming Serbia and even greater subjugation of its people?”
Sabornik srpsko-ruski – „Why is Serbia crying on the holiday of its great son?“
Russia Today – „Bloody fairy tale in Vračar“
Although, out of respect for the victims, we do not want to enter into a deeper analysis of either the entire narrative or individual texts, we believe that in a country where only five films for children have been made in the last twenty years, where Serbian TV shows and movies filled with violence are shown in prime time on televisions with national frequencies, while these same televisions do not even have redaction and program intended for children (which is their legal obligation) and while the ruling political elites use a highly aggressive approach of addressing all dissenters – such explanations represent, at best, a diversion of attention from accumulated problems in Serbia and, at worst, a serious misuse and manipulation of public opinion.
On the other hand, the award ceremony of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia for investigative journalism and reporting on May 23 went almost unnoticed in the media with national frequency.
All shows and articles that were shortlisted for this award in all three categories deal with some of the most severe problems that Serbia is facing, which, too often for it to be a mere coincidence, point to the government’s connections with crime and criminal activities.
This is the list of shows and texts shortlisted for the award:
- Dalibor Stupar – “Šta nas greje, to nas truje”
- Ksenija Pavkov – Ispod površine: „U mreži“
- Maja Nikolić – Ispod površine: „Poslednja počast“
- Jelena Zorić – Vodič kroz Jovanjicu Prvi deo i drugi deo
- Nemanja Rujević, Ingrid Gerkama, Natali Bertrams, Tristen Tejlor – Papagaji vredni kao kokain
- Vuk Cvijić – Novak Nedić štitio grupu Velje Nevolje
- Saša Dragojlo – Krijumčar-prevodilac i ‘major Deki’: Tvrdnje o kriminalu uz policijsku pomoć
- Jelena Veljković – Serijal tekstova o ulozi Nemanje Stajića u postupcima ozakonjenja
- Radmilo Marković – Beograd – raj za divlju gradnju i sumnjiva ozakonjenja: BIRN našao skoro pola miliona spornih kvadrata
One gets the impression that in Serbia, the blame for many things is easily laid on the influence of the West, while the necessary responsibility and neglect of the duties of the people in power are avoided.
Author: Nikola Petrović