RESEARCH: Polarized Public Trust in the Media and Social Networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Complementing research on hate and propaganda models of media and communication and hate narratives conducted earlier as part of SEENPM’s Resilience project, this report analyses media trust and media gender issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina and offers a set of policy recommendations.

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The study makes the following conclusions:

The results of the opinion poll conducted by Ipsos for the Resilience project in March 2021 show a sharp polarization of the BiH public regarding their trust in the media – half of the respondents, in sum, claim to not trust the media, while nearly as many claim they trust the media.

Results also demonstrate that trust in specific media outlets and public service broadcasters is polarized along ethno-national and political party lines, which attests to the overall polarization of the media sector and the public in BiH. Some respondents listed as the most trusted media outlets organizations that previous studies singled out as examples of propaganda and disinformation models.

Respondents have highly negative attitudes towards the media that are mainly in line with commonly held beliefs that the media are under the influence of political parties and are controlled by governments. Although studies have pointed to political parties meddling in editorial affairs, such overgeneralizations can negatively influence the public’s trust, even in professional and independent media outlets. The results show that investigative media outlets do not rate as high as television when it comes to the public’s trust in specific media formats.

The focus group participants emphasized that a set of measures should be introduced for the improvement of professional journalism in BiH and consequently the public’s trust in the media, ranging from education, efficient (self)regulation of online media and financial sustainability of professional media outlets and the public service broadcasters. The focus group participants indicated the presence of many anonymous websites and the lack of financial sustainability of professional media as the main reasons that influence the public’s trust in the media. According to them, it is important to prevent the influence of political parties on the media’s editorial policies and to improve the overall media reporting.

Results also point to the lack of media and information literacy skills among the respondents, due to which it is necessary to work on education and find systematic solutions for the introduction of media and information literacy into formal education.

Download the publication in English and in national language.

This publication was produced within Resilience: Civil Society for Media Free of Hate and Disinformation, a regional project financially supported by the European Union and implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey by a consortium of media development organizations led by SEENPM. It is part of a series of publications on media trust and gender issues based on research conducted in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey (all publications are available on the SEENPM website).

Read the previous reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina: 

Propaganda, Disinformation and Hate Models of Media and Communication in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hate Narratives in the Media and User Generated Content

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Funded by the European Union

The regional program RESILIENCE: Civil society action to reaffirm media freedom and counter disinformation and hateful propaganda in Western Balkans and Turkey’ is implemented with the financial support of the European Union by partner organizations SEENPMAlbanian Media InstituteMediacentar Sarajevo, Kosovo 2.0Montenegrin Media InstituteMacedonian Institute for MediaNovi Sad School of JournalismPeace Institute and Bianet.

This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of SEENPM and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.