The third episode of LDA CSS’s podcast revolved around the local media in Knjaževac. This is one of the hot-topics, since all the media (radio stations, newspapers, televisions etc.) have been recently shut down due to financial problems. This means that the people are left with no source of information except the official government websites. “Lack of finances, projects and other means of financial support, led to the complete media shut down, and the people of Knjaževac were doomed to hear about the news on the street, word of mouth, or on Facebook posts from their friends,” said Ljiljana Pavlović, journalist who spent her entire professional career working in the Knjaževac media.
She points out that the local media are crucial for the lives of the people, and that she was involved in nearly all projects of building media in the town (newspaper, television, radio stations). However, working in the local media can be very challenging and hard since journalists experience pressure from the local government officials, in the form of censorship (note, Reporters Without Borders ranked Serbia to be in the 93rd place of media freedom in the world).
When talking about governmental oppression and censorship towards journalists and the media, she explains that the worst form of it happened during the Milosević-regime in the 1990s and the events that happened before the 5th October Revolution. The 90s to her, were the worst period of her life in both the private and public sphere, since they had to fight hard for any written critical word, or even the type of songs played on the radio (Đorđe Balašević’s songs were forbidden) “The media can never be fully independent, they always depend on some sort of financial support… their existence depends on it, so it is quite hard to be independent even today.”, said Pavlović. She points out that she has never had full freedom to exercise her duties as a journalist, sometimes in the form of pressure due to financial support and auto-censorship.
She has authored the “Radio Knjaževac”, TV channel “Knjaževac Info”, which she explains were beautiful parts of her life. The hardest point in those times was when someone broke into their headquarters and stole all their professional equipment which was quite expensive. The local police never found the culprits. Moreover, recently they were forced to terminate the existence of the channel “Knjaževac Info” due to lack of financial means. The local government’s projects of co-financing the local media have been too little, and due to their delay what was supposed to be a year-long co-financing, turned out to be only available for around six months. The COVID-19 put another strain on their financial prospects and they’ve been forced to terminate the channel.
To hear more about the local media in Knjaževac, please follow this link.
Author: Goran Miletić, LDA CSS