The role of the media during the Balkans war was a controversial one. As with the case of the 11-week-campaign of NATO airstrikes in Kosovo in 1999, which claimed to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population from the Serbian government, and the intervention in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in 2001, when Alliance troops entered the country with a mandate to disarm the Albanian rebels.
Today, the press in Kosovo face considerable financial challenges and structural problems. According to the INFOCORE study, one of the consequences of ths is that journalists are not receiving appropriate training.
Abit Hoxcha, researcher at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich told euronews:
“Journalists don’t really have proper training to report and sensitive reporting. Also we are dealing with a generation that has experienced war, so there is a lot of baggage attached to reporting and one of the problems we see on a daily basis in our research is that journalists carry a dose of patriotism and identity and a sense of belonging into their daily reporting.”
Kosovo is a potential candidate for EU membership. However, the European Commission report in 2016 expressed worries about the increase in attacks on journalists and the lack of transparency regarding media ownership.
In Macedonia (FYROM) press freedom is severely threatened. The INFOCORE study found that politically-controlled media are fomenting tensions between Macedonians and the Albanian minority.
Dr Snezana Trpevska, from the Institute of Communication Studies in Skopje illustrated the results of the study: “The inter-ethnic tension in the country,” she says, “does not emerge only as a result of the friction between the communities themselves but also they are created from the politically manipulated media. So they are created from above. The discourses of conflict, of violence, of hate speech are coming from the politicians themselves who control and misuse the media to provoke tensions in order to divert the public attention from the other controversial and important issues in the society.”
People them stop relying on traditional media and go in search of alternative sources of information.