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11. 04. 2012

Press Conference – Presenting ANEM New Series “Connecting”

On April 11, 2012, ANEM organized a press conference at Belgrade Media Center, to present and announce the beginning of broadcasting of its new TV and radio series "Connecting" that treats cultural diversities of ethnic minorities in Serbia. The series was produced within ANEM project "Crossing the Bridge of Diversity".

Speakers at the press conference were ANEM President Sasa Mirkovic, research team leader and professor Snjezana Milivojevic from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, which was ANEM partner on the project, assistant editor of ANEM series Ana Stjepanovic, TV journalist of ANEM series Sandra Mandic, as well as radio journalists of ANEM series Oliver Trajkovic and Predrag Zambok. The conference was also attended by over 20 journalists, representatives of non-governmental sector, donor organizations and state institutions.

ANEM President Sasa Mirkovic addressed the public at the opening of the conference by outlining the project "Crossing the Bridge of Diversity" and presenting the speakers of the conference who were involved in the project in different phases of its implementation. Mirkovic acquainted the present with the series "Connecting", namely that they contained 10 radio and 10 TV programs that treated 10 ethnic minorities in total; that the programs were recorded on 15 different locations, while 17 journalists and local correspondents had participated in the production of the programs. Mirkovic also emphasizsed the educational aspect of the project, as journalists of ANEM radio stations had the opportunity to participate in the production of the series guided by the mentoring of experienced colleagues from A-Media production company. He also informed the present about the start of broadcasting of 10 radio and 10 TV programs on ANEM stations, pointing out their great interest in airing the series as a refreshing content in the moment when media abounded in political programs during the current pre-election campaign.

Snjezana Milivojevic, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, provided a brief overview of the research conducted by her team of researches within this project and its results. She elaborated on the aim of the research that was to identify the manner in which the minorities were represented in and by the media, as well as to determine how the media, jouranlists and audience jointly participated in the process of creating dominant conception of ethnic minorities. Milivojevic explained the methods used in the process - qualitative and quantitative research, analysis of program offer of ANEM stations, focus groups that served to identify how journalists and audience were perceiving and relating to presentation of ethnic minorities in media. One of the conclusions of the research, Milivojevic pointed out, was that minorities were barely visible in Serbian media, and even when they were, neither professional public nor audience were satisfied with the reporting. The research also showed that there was a clear connection between teritorial aspect of the population and the way in which this popularity was presented in the media. Hence, programs of this kind were less in number in Central Serbia although the audience from this part of the countrly was more eager to see various and more creative programs on ethnic minorities. Milivojevic also pointed out that a majority of media projects aiming at reporting on ethnic minorities was funded through calls or directly by local self-governments and the stations rarely invested in their own making of such programs as part of their regular production. She also stressed the lack of bilingual or subtitled programs. Programs in minority languages were usually included in special program segments, which necessarily led to fragmenting of the audience. Given that media by rule report on ethnic minorities either in case of conflict or "traditional basis", both journalists and the public have an impression that reporting on ethnic minorities is mainly stereotypical or negative (conflicts). Finally, Milivojevic concluded that diversity was very sensitive topic in our society and in public discourse, without serious attempts to create the environment that nurtured the riches of diversity. Having all this in mind, it was important to use the research results as the basis for making of the series "Connecting", so that the tolerance would be promoted and diversity presented in a positive light.

Ana Stjepanovic, the assistant editor of the series, reiterated the importance of research being the starting point for the production team, as it had served them as an insight into the way in which media treated minorities, as well as a guide for the correct approact to the topics of the programs. She said that the series, based on the recommendations of the research team, had treated the stories about 10 minority groups in total (Hungarians, Albanians, Bosniaks, Roma, Croatians, Slovaks, Vlachs, Bulgarians, Yugoslavs and Chinese). The series was recorded in multiethnic communities througout Serbia, while the leading characters of the programs were common people telling stories about their mutual relationships, everyday life and connections they made. During the production, more than 80 different people were interviewed, with stories showing how differences were in fact connecting people and how they had made their lives better.

Sandra Mandic, TV journalist on the series, shared her experience while working on TV programs and cooperating with colleagues that were working on radio programs. She pointed out that the series was indeed special, primarily because different approach from standard journalistic interviews was taken, where interlocutors were given the opportunity to tell their stories in their own native language and depict real life in a multiethnic environment. Journalist also emphasized that, despite the fact that differences of ethnic minorities had been usually negatively presented in the media, the work on these programs had enabled all participants in the production to realize that people living in ethnically diverse communities found their wealth of their society in these differences. Mandic concluded that the involvement in this project was very educational for journalists and interlocutors of the series, as well as for general audience.

Predrag Zamok, journalist of Radio Ozon from Sremska Mitrovica, described his experience in working on the radio program in which he treated the topic of mixed marriages in Srem. He said that the stories about this part of Serbia and mixed marriages were rather fascinating, as they portrayed people living with their differences and taking the best of their different ethnic backgrounds. Zambok also emphasized the importance of the mentoring for his work in the field as it had helped him to approach interlocutors in such a way as to give them sense of freely speaking about their families and everyday life.

Oliver Trajkovic, journalist of Ema Radio from Bujanovac, expressed his great pleasure in being a part of this project, as it had provided a chance for positive stories about life of people from small multiethnic environments from different parts of Serbia, of their mutual cooperation and support, to be heard all around the country. Coming from a community that is usually associated with multiethnic conflict, Trajkovic said it was very important to promote positive examples of cooperation even in such environments, as it was presented in his radio program treating the story about business cooperation between a Serb and Albanian. He also pointed out the importance of the support by the production team and good organization that had enabled the work on the series to be higher in quality and successfully concluded on time.

With this conference, ANEM strived to draw public attention to topics treated in the series, as well as to engage listeners and viewers across Serbia in following these programs every working day from April 16 to 27 on ANEM radio stations, and from May 7 to 18 on ANEM TV stations.

This project is financially supported by the European Union through the project "Support to Civil Society", managed by the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia and implemented by GOPA Consultants.

The contents of this text are the sole responsibility of ANEM and can in no way be taken to reflect the views and stands of the European Union.

  • Photo: MC Belgrade

  • Photo: MC Belgrade

  • Photo: MC Belgrade

  • Photo: MC Belgrade

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