The association »In the Name of the Family« has tried to prevent the weekly magazine Novosti from receiving public funding intended to support the operation of minority media in Croatia. We consider the association’s attempt not only detrimental to the level of democratic protection of minorities in Croatia, but harmful to the respect for freedom of journalistic and editorial expression within minority media.
Novosti, a weekly magazine published by the Serb National Council in Croatia, is a positive example of a minority media outlet following and discussing social and political issues relevant to the country as a whole, while representing the overall situation and developments in a minority community. In this way, it contributes to the understanding of how mutual these relations and developments truly are. By combining these aspects in its content, Novosti promotes, among its wider readership, interest in topics characteristic of the life of the Serbian community in Croatia, and simultaneously enables members of said community to gain a comprehensive view of Croatian society and politics, a view beyond the range of special interest and minority topics.
While publishing minority media dedicated solely to developments within minority communities, and to raising awareness of these communities’ traditions and customs, is a valid model, Novosti follows a concept geared towards finding innovative and integrative solutions. Solutions which, through a publicly funded minority media outlet, place quality analytical reporting at the service of mutual emancipatory efforts by citizens belonging to minority as well as majority communities.
Novosti was covered by a study of the SEE Media Observatory, a regional project funded by the European Union between 2012 and 2016. In the study, Novosti was singled out as a rare positive example of a publisher displaying a democratic attitude and understanding of the media’s role by truly supporting free and critical reporting. Also, the SEE Media Observatory research found Novosti to be an example of a non-profit operation maintaining a good model for public co-funding of minority media in Croatia. The study proclaimed Novosti a positive instance in a series of efforts of media communities and governments throughout Europe to preserve quality journalism, and to establish alternative funding models by engaging, among other things, public funding mechanisms. Novosti have received acknowledgment for its operations at numerous regional and international gatherings.
Those of us who have spent years promoting freedom and integrity of the press in the countries of South-Eastern Europe and the European Union feel Novosti should be a source of pride for Croatia.
The very value system of any democratic society is threatened if a minority outlet, or a media outlet of any other type, is told what to put on its covers, or to refrain from harsh, critical, or satirical language, if it is to continue receiving public funds for its operations. We trust that democratic institutions in Croatia will respond by firmly rejecting and condemning this threat.
Sandra Bašić Hrvatin, university professor, Ljubljana
Boro Kontić, director of Media Center, Sarajevo
Dubravka Valić Nedeljković, university professor, president of The Novi Sad School of Journalism Board, Novi Sad
Brankica Petković, media researcher, Peace Institute, Ljubljana
Tihomir Loza, director of South East European Network for Professionalisation of Media
Luka Zanoni and Marzia Bona, editors at Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso, Rovereto