From Crisis to Corruption in the Balkans: MDI at Columbia University

Date: 11 March 2015

Region: Western Balkans

Columbia_UniversityThe Media Diversity Institute (MDI) Head of Operations and Development in the US Marija Sajkas will chair a panel at Columbia University symposium dedicated to the state of the media in the Western Balkans. With the key address to be delivered by Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the debate will focus on whether telling the facts and naming the names still grounds for intimidation and censorship of journalists and reporters even with much of the region on the cusp of European integration.

“It seems that the general tendency of the region towards EU integration and the ongoing institutional changes did not pursue much of the democratisation of the press. On the contrary, there has been much talk recently involving the discussion about the censorship and the auto-censorship in the Balkans,” says Marija Sajkas.

The forthcoming symposium “State of the Media in South Eastern Europe: From Crisis to Corruption” will take place at Columbia University on March 11, 2015.

In the years since the end of the Bosnian War, the Kosovo War and the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, much has changed—or so it would appear. Today, the Balkan media space is shared by international media conglomerates and local networks, while tabloids and broadsheets compete for readers with a growing number of online publications and blogs. Yet media monitors, investigative journalists, and foreign and local observers alike continue to raise red flags. From politicians dictating the boundaries of acceptable speech, to inflammatory language directed to minority groups, the yellow press dominates the discourse.

Journalists and scholars with deep Balkan media experience will be discussing media space and freedoms in South Eastern Europe today.

The Media Diversity Institute (MDI) opened its office in the Western Balkans aiming to encourage diversity and a better representation of marginalised groups in the media in the region. MDI has been already promoting professionalism in journalism, inclusiveness and diversity in media through various training programmes, conferences and publications in the Western Balkans.