In the fall of 1999, Dragoljub Zarkovic, Editor in Chief of the Serbian independent weekly VREME, walked out of a conference convened by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It had been convened to allow Serbian, Montenegrin and a few Albanian journalists to discuss their coverage of NATO’s bombing war over Kosovo. His reason for leaving: the strong attacks made on Serbia’s independent media for the ways in which they conducted themselves under the strict rules imposed by President Slobodan Milosevic during the war. As The New York Times reported at that time, what upset Zarkovic was the willingness of many of the journalists “to draw an outrageous and defamatory line of equality between a regime, a nation and a media that has been waging a bloody battle against the authorities for 10 years…. I felt I had no option but to walk out.”
Zarkovic’s views about the war’s coverage among independent journalists in Serbia begin this section. What follows is an updated account from Ardian Arifaj, Editor of KOHA Ditore, a daily Albanian-language newspaper in Kosova (the Albanian-language spelling), of what it’s been like to rebuild the paper in the wake of the war. Perhaps most disheartening is his discussion about younger journalists, in particular, who question whether journalism is a worthwhile pursuit.
As a tenuous political peace continues to be negotiated in Northern Ireland, coverage of “the Troubles” and the aftermath is the topic of three articles. In the first, Eddie Holt, Television Critic of The Irish Times and a lecturer at Dublin City University, takes us back through these tumultuous decades in which journalists from Britain and Ireland searched for ways to explain the conflict given the censorship imposed by the government. And he touches upon the ways in which the constraints of conventional media narratives—of good and bad guys—do not make comprehensible the core problems of Northern Ireland.
Ed Moloney, Northern Ireland Editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, looks deeper into the ramifications of media censorship. Moloney writes, “My view is that censorship probably extended the life of the Troubles by as much as a third and that people died unnecessarily because of it. I say this because what censorship did was prevent the media from explaining events fully.” In 1999, Moloney faced the prospect of prison when he appealed two lower court rulings demanding that he surrender to the police notes from his 1991 interview with a Protestant extremist facing a murder charge. The province’s senior judge ruled in his favor in what was regarded as a victory for press freedom in Northern Ireland.
Shawn Pogatchnik, the Associated Press correspondent in Ireland during the past five years, describes the round-the-clock pace of reporting on a story that never seems to quiet down. He laments the lack of space he’s had to tell what is a very complicated story. As he writes, “…within the confines of a 500-word breaking story…[g]ray, complex realities become a black-and-white media confection suitable for the least demanding palates.”