The Lessons of Yugoslavia

"THE LESSONS OF YUGOSLAVIA" THE ROLE OF THE PRESS IN THE YUGOSLAV CRISIS -

Zoran Petrovic-Pirocanac

WHEN WILL THE SERBS STOP BEING THE PIGS THAT ARE POLLUTING THIS PLANET

At the height of the sanctions, at the start of July 1995, a four-member team of editors from the "Time" weekly magazine hastened to Belgrade. Their intention was to interview the president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, who for 4 years was known in the world media as "the Balkan butcher". The preparations took more than 2 weeks, until everything was set for the interview with the Serbian president. It was common knowledge that he rarely consented to give interviews not only to the foreign, but the domestic media as well.

Only a small circle of editors from this powerful worldwide weekly knew, probably from the top of the establishment, about one detail: that Milosevic's photograph on the cover page had to convey "male firmness of purpose, but with a humane and warm expression". It was a rather unusual task and it would be interesting today to hear how colleagues from the said journal interpreted this decision. Why this unexpected decision to depict Milosevic in the media in a much milder and more presentable form? Why did he merit this significant respite in the attacks on his image, to appear on the cover page in a more acceptable form than usual, relaxed, yet concerned over events in former Yugoslavia, three-dimensional, with lines of anxiety visible on his face? Over 350 photographs were made in order to achieve the right effect - a cover-page portrait of Milosevic, that would almost appeal to the kinder side of a Western reader.

Might it be that the colleagues from "Time" knew what few in Serbia were privy to (other than his wife and intimate circle of friends): that Milosevic was preparing for capitulation and the betrayal of the interests of the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina? The Dayton conference, merely a whispered rumour, was still far away. There were still four months to go before "this historic event". But "Time" was already on the assignment, to depict a humane Milosevic being offered the chance to say a word to the international public that would smooth away the catastrophic media image of the ruthless Serbian president.

It is with this image that I begin the theme about which a great deal has been written, on the world media's role in present-day armed conflicts, or rather "the derailment" of the media from the clearly defined principles of journalistic ethics.

I am the co-author of a book that deals with the ethical problems of our profession, with the flood of media distortions about the war in Bosnia. We endeavoured to write this book conscientiously and to pose ethical questions, always bearing in mind the deontological foundation of the journalist's profession. But we realised in the course of our task that what we had in mind was a journalism that has practically vanished from the world scene, that we based the book on what is already an almost Utopistic concept -"journalism from the Jurassic Age". Today, I am glad to be able to say something on the subject before this esteemed assembly. It is certain that only a year ago nobody heard of the majority of examples I shall present to you. But passions have now subsided and "dissonant" voices can again be heard on the world scene.

My intimate motive for this preoccupation with the journalistic profession is still opposed to the concept of journalism that is becoming more and more dominant, best described by a former French Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua: "The freedom of the press ceases where the state interest begins". The classic western school of journalism, American, English and French before all others, is based on freedom of expression, critical freedom, the Carthesian and analytical spirit, that does not falter before any obstacle. This spirit of journalism is a corrective of power and indispensible for all true democracy.

My 20-year long career as a journalist includes reporting from several war-fronts, from Lebanon to Nicaragua, the war in Croatia (Vukovar and its neighbourhood) to four years of frequent reporting from the battlefronts in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I am the author of numerous press and phono-reports and TV documentaries and belong among journalists who in their commentaries give absolute priority to the TV media. I consider TV to be superior to other media, and this was also true with regard to the war in Yugoslavia.

My favourite theoretician of speed (dromologist) Paul Virilio, gave the best definition of the phenomenon which we were, very convincingly, able to observe in the Yugoslav conflict as well: "The audio-visual landscape becomes "a war-scape", and the screen a square view, over-exposed to a video-barrage, just as the battlefield is exposed to rocket fire". The war in Yugoslavia confirmed what could already be distinguished in the Gulf war: that in wartime "control of the little screen is essential for the logistics of each warring side".

Today the sides at war are interactive, we are witnesses of tele-action, live coverage, the strategic occupation of the screen. In a word, the media are greatly perverted, the information market and ruthless competition impose ever fiercer conditions for acquiring information. The first victim is truth. And, for the first time in a long while, the media throughout the entire world, functioned synergically. Journalists from America and Iran, England and Lybia, Turkey and Russia, France and Algeria, worked hand in glove. Sadly, this is the parrot- like manner of imitating the all- powerfull CNN. When this station transmited carefully formulated and precisely aimed news items, in most cases, the others blindly followed with amazing uniformity.

The majority of correspondents reported on the war in Yugoslavia (better to say wars, because the fighting in this multi-ethnic country also had a diversity of location, from Vukovar to Srebrenica), only from one side. The intensity of the conflict, the exclusivity of all the parties to the conflict, in the main made it impossible for correspondents to report on the war from both sides. Few of them, from the most powerful media (primarily Martin Bell from the BBC, or Christiane Amanpour (though not always) from CNN), thanks to technological superiority (real-time TV CNN, "new Coca-Cola at the end of the 20th century"), or with the reputation of being impartial ( the BBC), had the opportunity of crossing over from one to the other warring side.

The majority of other reporters were obliged to narrow down their sights and this detail is perhaps part of the explanation for the many violations against the basic postulates of journalism, for so-called advocacy journalism, media bites, deliberate exaggeration, one-sided journalism. I particularly underline the phenomenon of the large scale suppression of obvious facts or reliable information, that was not "in line with policy" or in the service of the dominant image of this war. International institutions on the spot (UNPROFOR, UN, etc), were silent but so were the media. Throughout the entire war, nothing, or the minimum was said about the participation of over 15,000 mujahedin from the Arab and Islamic countries. This data is from American inteligence sources and I have no reason to doubt it. The mujahedin who brought the fashion to Europe, in this war, of beheading people, for instance, roasting them on spits, impaling them, didn't seem to interest the world media in the slightest. This data appears mainly in reports after the Dayton agreement, when it became dangerous for American troops.

It appears to me that the media neglected important details and events, mainly out of reluctance, in such evident situations, "to slip out" of the cliche that so many reporters had used in their reports and testimonies from the start. I did not notice in all the 4 years of the war a single article - any analysis of secret diplomacy - which, like in all wars in history, played a supremely important role. There was also a marked absence of geo-strategic analyses and geo-political dimensions of the war. How can one explain from a broader point of view, that journalists see things happen in the course of events, tell you about them in a private conversation, yet in the end never breathe a word about them publicly? Why were things talked about, important even crucial things, only after the fact? Why did they behave in an identical way to the world's leading politicians, who first of all cooked the Yugoslav soup, saying one thing, and when everything irreversibly happened the way it did, are today so visibly anxious for the truth?

Why is it that no journalists made an effort to think out things for themselves, but instead were contented with limited factography? Why did the journalists from the leading western countries mostly behave like participants in the war (especially the Americans headed by Christiane Amanpour), instead of performing their normal role as witnesses of the war? (By the way, like my colleague Amanpour, I too interviewed the president of the Republic of Srpska, Radovan Karadzic, on several occasions.)

I remember the shock I experienced in the Belgrade "Intercontinental" hotel, where all the big TV crews were staying at the beginning of the war. During the editing session of one of the four leading American national televisions, I was amazed to hear the crew leader phoning the American embassy in Belgrade and asking an official: "What's the theme today?" It appeared to me, evidently, to be customary practice: after breakfast they would first phone in to the embassy and from among the suggestions would select the next theme. Since then I keep asking myself what has happened to journalistic deontology, to the universal esthetics and philosophy of modern journalism? Why is it, that it has become too close to the state, to the foreign ministry, to politicians? Has the time of serving those who are governed and not those who govern gone forever, as the director of the "Le Nouvel Observateur" Jean Daniel described it so well.

James F. Hoge Jr., editor of "Foreign Affairs" remarks "the absence of a noticable government strategy "the media will have a catalytic role". The infiltration of the media in the sphere of decision- making is also a phenomenon that deserves the full attention of those who are interested in the media. The war in Yugoslavia is an excellent illustration of this phenomenon as well, because in it the visibly aggressive violation of sovereign decision-making by the highest state leadership was evident. The media penetrated the most heavily guarded domains of the political elite in the leading countries of the West. The media frequently even openly pressured their governments for intervention in Bosnia, resorting to the French principle of ingerence humanitaire. At the same time they used information that was packed with the virus of distortion and incredible superficiality.

Using examples from the field, I shall briefly illustrate the role of the media in the Yugoslav crisis first of all by turning your attention to the mentioned Serb side. During the war, it was characteristic for the Serbian media, like the Croatian and Muslim media, to present a narrow view, to omit objective information, and maintain strict control. The TV reports were really military spots. Important information was lacking on all sides.

Also in conveying reactions from America, from the West, in all these years, the Serbian media consciously avoided the critical outlook in America. Any such view, I may say, was censored in Serbia. Meanwhile, my criticism is addressed to the regime-controlled "Politika" newspaper, RTS and to the independent "Nasa Borba" as well. In those wartime years I personally, and my colleagues, were fortunate enough to have numerous friends in America, who sent us these views and reactions that were covered up and censored in Serbia. This practice continues even now. It is simply amazing that Chris Hedges' article in the "New York Times", regarding the turnabout in the infamous Herak trial, was ignored by the Serbian press. I refer to Borislav Herak, who was medically certified as being mentally ill and sexually impotent, and who, with another Serb, Sretko Damjanovic, was sentenced to death in March 1993. This man, who had previously been taken off the recruitment list for military service because of his mentioned illness, was charged and convicted of 42 murders, 16 rapes and of being a witness to the murder of 220 civilians. Chris Hedges discovered 2 of Herak's alleged victims in Sarajevo, alive and healthy! (It is interesting that the UN police intrerviewed one of the "murdered victims", even photographed him last summer, yet nobody has done anything about this. Not a word has been uttered (sic!).

In Belgrade, only the "Dnevni Telegraf" mentions Hedges' discovery. The "Politika", the "Nasa Borba", "Vreme", "NIN", "Demokratija" and the regime-controlled TV are silent.

But this problem is exceptionally important because it involves one of the 1993 "Pulitzer" prize winners (for excellence in journalism) the "New York Times" journalist, John Burns. This prestigious paper's editorial office mustered the courage, rather belatedly, to call its journalist to account, admitting to the terrible fabrication regarding the Herak case. Many Serbian newspapers in Serbia, like in countless other other media manipulations, imitating the world's major media like parrots with appalling lies about the war in B&H, failed to do this.

But, another, less renowned New York daily, "Newsday", on whose pages Roy Gutman also won the "Pulitzer" in 1993( in all-three " Pulitzer" in 11 years), has not rectified its moral disaster to this day, despite plenty of evidence. Gutman, (who, incidentally interviewed me for the "Los Angeles Times" as a participant in the March 1992 demonstrations in Belgrade), is the author of the "scoop" on the "concentration camps" in Omarska and Brcko. Gutman practically invented the term"Serbian death camps", which sped round the world and largely influenced the definition of world opinion regarding this war (just like the rape of 80,000 Muslim women). Gutman will remain in the world anthology of professional dishonesty, because on the basis of dubious statements from two witnesses (former prisoners who miraculously escaped a terrible fate in the "death camps") he spun the story about the camps which won him the "Pulitzer". The world was under the impression that my colleague Gutman had truly been there himself. It turned out that the "Pulitzer" prize winner had never been anywhere near these camps.

Thus, two "Pulitzer" prizes were awarded for the case of the genocidal Serbs, and this American institution is in serious jeopardy. Either it will stop the further erosion of its name by courageously speaking out on both cases or it will drown completely in the prospect of continuing to present this award to manipulators and dishonest journalists.

Before I mention the examples of manipulation in the world media, I must also add that neither are the Serbian media faultless. Example 1: one of the big workshops of lies in this war, RT Serbia (like HRT and B&H TV) launched what is today better known as the "Gutman syndrome". The "Pulitzer" prize winner and journalist in the New York daily "Newsday", had a predecessor in falsehood, in former Yugoslavia on Belgrade television. The RTS journalist (better to say a man close to the JNA rather than a real journalist), sent extremely disturbing war reports from Vukovar in the autumn of 1991, especially about the besieged JNA barracks in the town. The interesting point in this example lies in the fact that the said journalist was nowhere near the events and the fierce fighting he described. His close relative reported them to him in Pancevo, a town 20 km from Belgrade, from where he relayed them to RT Belgrade in regular "intense" and highly praised telephone "reports from Vukovar".

Example 2: Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo, 3rd of May 1992. The JNA convoy from the Lukavica base with Alija Izetbegovic and his escort, who had been captured the previous day, were moving to the Army Headquarters for an exchange to be carried out. Izetbegovic and his escort would be released in exchange for lifting the long siege of the headquarters that were under the command of General Kukanjac. I was in the first car with the French TF1 crew, in the convoy withdrawing from the command, and we almost ran over a mine in that narrow street. From behind the surrounding trees, in the entrances of buildings, we were being watched by Muslim militia. They asked to see our documents and saw my Belgrade issued documents. At least 10 automatic rifles and guns were pointing at me. I escaped death thanks to the presence of my French colleagues, since the commander of the group reckoned that my liquidation would be too risky. They allowed our car through and afterwards the slaughter of JNA officers and troops began. Officially, only 6 soldiers (4 colonels) were killed, but in fact several dozen boys (mostly aged 18-20) were slaughtered in an operation that had received guarantees from UNPROFOR and the EU. To this day no one in Serbia has ever written about the real number of young soldiers who were killed and their only guilt was that they happened to be doing their military service in Sarajevo at that moment (when they had set out, these youths had been soldiers of the SFRY which then included B&H ). The JNA, viewed in the West as the Serbian army, was, in fact, a communist product which in this situation had behaved dreadfully towards its own countrymen. To this day, the parents of those several dozen youths have no knowledge of how their children died. Missing in action, in this case, was the paravan for the real cause of death: through no fault of their own, these young men were slaughtered in the convoy on the 3rd of May 1992, because Alija Izetbegovic's men did not keep to their end of the bargain for the army's withdrawal. We know, from a recording of the radio messages among the Muslims who had surrounded the convoy. that Ejup Ganic, Izetbegovic's deputy had issued the order: "When Alija comes out of the "Jetta" car, kill everyone". Neither the Serbian nor the world media ever made any reference to this, let alone any mention that Ganic, a high ranking Muslim official, was responsible for this evident crime against humanity. Although I offered this account to many people in Belgrade and abroad, no one has responded to this day. Nor did anyone on that 3rd of May in 1992. The numerous TV crews did not mention any details at all, although from the journalist's point of view this would have been a burning item. But obviously, everyone was programmed not to be at all interested in the death of several dozen recruits in the JNA. How can one explain this behaviour by the media and reporters?

Example 3: The British TV company ITN, attracted by Gutman's story from "Newsday" did a report on the Trnopolje "concentration camp" on the 7th of August 1992. We recall the bomblike impact of this report and the further demonisation of the entire Serbian nation, which immediately swept our entire planet. However, a month ago the background behind these film reports came to light, because a video recording exists on the manner in which the report was created. The "death camp" was in fact an ordinary refugee camp in which the conditions, admittedly, were bad, but any comparison with concentration camps was absurd. A video recording made on another camera which only recently came to light, and which was filming the ITN camera, clearly shows that this involved the English reporting team's intentional manipulation. It emerged that the emaciated young man standing behind the barbed wire in the so-called "concentration camp", whom we all recognise, was just an ordinary refugee, in fact he was a Serb refugee, and his photograph was skilfully used. On the photograph one can see the other camp internees walking freely about in this collective centre. The film operation itself was so skilfully organised that only this other camera revealed the degree of manipulation. Recently a German journalist Thomas Deichman, in Germany and England again accused ITN of terrible manipulation so that ITN had to admit to the authenticity of the film material, blaming its team and ordering an investigation into the case. A scandal broke out, but that does not help the Serbs now, when so much anger and accusations have irreparably been voiced against them. Even the then US president Bush and his administration were appalled and shocked at the existence of "concentration camps" similar to the Nazi concentration camps.

My example is ITN's manipulation, just like Gutman's, but I offer the audience yet another fantastically perverted dimension. Do you know where this second film material has been all these 4 years? You won't believe it - somewhere among the classified files of the Yugoslav government's committee for the investigation of war crimes! For some inexplicable reason, but obviously not in the desire for truth, the regime in Belgrade concealed the evidence of ITN's manipulation. An institution that should be among the first to raise its voice and inform both the Serbian and the world media kept valuable evidence "under lock and key", concealing it from the public. What we have here is double control, both by the Serbian intelligence service (civilian and military) and by Milosevic's regime. They prevented anything from "leaking" through. The neo-communist regime in Belgrade, known for its total immersion in crime, participated in this cover-up of the truth with the adversaries in this war and helped ITN to inflict enormous damage on the Serbs before the whole world.

Example 4: the reputable German weekly "Stern" published a survey on Srebrenica and printed two photographs from the documentary film "Operation Srebrenica", broadcast previously on the independent "Studio B" TV in Belgrade. Beneath the photograph, in which one can see captured Muslim soldiers from Srebrenica, is a caption which says that a Serbian cameraman photographed a group of Muslim prisoners a few seconds before the Serbs massacred them. The problem is that "Stern" claimed something that its reporters did not see because they were not there. And the incriminated eye-witness of the events that did not happen was myself! Because of my report I was criticized in Belgrade by the anti-war group and by people from the Republic of Srpska (including threats from the head of the government's press centre at Pale, who happened to be Karadzic's daughter, the legendary Sonja Karadzic). This is indeed a manifoldly interesting case because I managed to photograph what other reporters did not. And I published everything I photographed, believing that my testimony about Srebrenica was important. I have brought this cassette with me and place it at your disposal if anyone is interested. And, if I had seen any prisoners being killed, I certainly would not have remained silent. In any case, despite numerous objections, often for contradictory reasons, because of my reporting work regarding Srebrenica, the fact remains that "Stern" manipulated with this photograph and ruthlessly lied. At the same time, it has inflicted tremendous moral damage on me and I have been endeavouring for more than a year to obtain satisfaction from this magazine. You will admit that this is by no means easy when you are a Serb. I would like to draw your attention now to several, I believe, important and interesting examples of manipulation and intentional malice, orchestrated by the world's leading media.

EXAMPLE 1: In Sarajevo, in February and March 1992, at the beginning of the "barricade crisis". Some twenty barricades were set up in the city, between the Serbs on one, and the Moslems and Croats on the other side ( and in some places, between the Croats and the Moslems). The experienced and well-known BBC correspondent, Martin Bell, was stationed at the " Holiday Inn" hotel, like many other of his colleagues from all over the world, as were all the world's major TV stations' crews. A battle began among them to get the most exclusive film shots. They interviewed the people on the barricades. This English colleague also had a crew of assistents- stringers- Yugoslavs. It was with their help, that he managed to obtain and relay an interview with the person he claimed to be the leader and spokesman of the Serbs in Sarajevo. In a large measure, this event was later to set the guidelines for the manner of presenting events. In the media the Serbs were to be described as rebels, aggressors, hoodlums. In the BBC's report, the alleged Serb leader, wearing a black hood with slits for his eyes, gave his interview very much in the fashion of a member of the IRA, or a member of the Corsican FLNC.

That was the first manipulation and lie, because the Serb spokesman and organiser of the barricades was present in the " Holliday Inn" hotel, and, available to reporters. The second lie: a masked " Serb" holding a " Heckler& Koch" automatic rifle on a table. At that point, the only " Hecklers" seen in Sarajevo, were in the hands of the Sarajevo government's special police forces. And another item: on the table, the " Serb" has a Yugoslav, communist flag with a five- pointed star. Long before this, the Serbs in Sarajevo had rejected this flag and had again begun using the traditional Serb flag with white eagles. Why the experienced and for me until that moment, credible Martin Bell decided to carry out this dishnest operation, deserves an explanation from him. I witnessed these events myself and state that this was a blatant lie that did tremendous harm to the Serbs. In any case, in the next few days, in the " New York Times" and the majority of other leading newspapers, one could see the BBC-designed " Serb rebels", masked like IRA members.

EXAMPLE 2: Christiane Amanpour, the star of CNN, publicised a contemptible manipulation in her report of November 1992. She visited the small Croatian town of Kiseljak ( about 20 miles from Sarajevo) and showed the unusually good life of the population there. The town was full of food, meat, tropical fruit and petrol," yet in Sarajevo, people were dying of starvation" . Her conclusion was that because of this, the sanctions should be tightened against the Serbs?!?! With great cunning, she concealed the essential fact that the Serbs had nothing to do with the town of Kiseljak, which was being supplied by Zagreb. In her film report, Amanpour had somehow managed to hide the hundreds of Croatian flags flying in Kiseljak. She did this consciously, because someone in the State Department probably needed it. Otherwise she would never have done it. She already knew where the warring sides were located. Such an act, flagrantly violating professional and human ethics would never have occured to a proper reporter.

EXAMPLE 3: Sarajevo newspaper " oslobodjenje" got a prestigious journalist prize in 1994. Deciding vote (in the 7 members jury) was the one of Jean- Claude Guillebaud, president of the " Les Reporters Sans Frontieres"- French media watchdog group. There was a huge party in a basement. Guillebaud went to get some air. He went upstairs, one flour after another, in shock. Snipers, guns, you name it.( Muslim side was complaining all the time that Serbs " fire on " Oslobodjenje". In fact, Muslim side was using building for military activities and sniping, all the time. This is well- known tactics of Hezb-Allah from the Southern Lebanon). Disgusted, Guillebaud demanded immediate public explanation from renowned " independent" Zlatko Dizdarevic. He got none and resigned when he came back next day to Paris. Till today, no article was published in Paris about this testimony.( Jean Claude Guillebaud is a contributing journalist to " le Monde" and editor in thepublishing house " Seuil". In countless situations, the powerful, modern media mashines, like CNN global TV, and the other vast TV nwetworks, forgot the basic ethics of our profession, the simple thruth and facts. From the perspective of someone in Belgrade, a Serb from Serbia, it is important in the world to pay attention to the many painful and enduring consequences that irresponsible and false reporting in this war have brought on an entire nation. It is often that invisible discriminatory, often even racist attitude towards the whole Serb nation that spills over into the domain of culture, into literature, on television, into mass culture. It entails the cliche of the Serbs as the bad guys, savage, insensitive, genocidal, inherent destroyers, those who cannot adapt themselves to western civilisation, communists, everything that is negative. Here are two examples of this dangerous phenomenon, against which the Serbs will have to struggle on the civilisational level for many years to come.

The first example is the cartoon in the "Chicago Tribune" daily, published on the 1st of January 1992. In it two pigs are struggling out of overturned field latrines. "Commies" is written on one pig, and next to it is the sign USSR on the latrine. Yugoslavia is written on the other latrine and the word "Serbs" on the other pig. And so, the Serbs no longer belong to the human race. Just as the Jews were treated like rats by Nazi authors, today's Jews are Serbian pigs. In the film " Rock"( with Sean Connery) , produced after the end of the war in Bosnia, there is a very significant scene that arouses concern. A wooden box of some lethel, highly destructive matter arrives at the FBI headquarters. The box containing this powerfull means of chemical warefare, is marked with the word: Humanitarian Aid for Bosnia, accompanied by a slogan, in the Serbian language: " Freedom or Death!" and a scull-head. Inside the box is a child' s doll. So, the attention is for a child to take the doll and the chemical matter will simply destroy it like acid would. This calls for an explanation. The reference here is to the Royalist Yugoslav forces in the II World War, which were allies of America, Britain and Russia against Hitler( who were better known as chetniks). The scenes in the film " Rock" are directly inspired by the event in the Sarajevo district last year. American troops discovered a base of Iranian Islamic instructors. They were training Moslems to plant explosives, with emphasis on clildren's toys- bombs. The question here is of a well- known method used by Islamic fighters throughout the world, from the Lebanese " Hezb-Allah", Iranian " Pasdarans", the Palestinian extremists, the Islamists in India, Pakistan , Egypt, Algeria. Not even children are spared iun the struggle for Islamism. On the ther hand, it is known that in the history of the Serbs, there is not a single case of liquidating children. Serbs do not blow children up by attracting their attention with toys. My question is, how it was possible that the Americans released these Iranian " diplomats"- cum experts for explosives- and then, we have this complete switch of theses: in a Hollywood film, Islamic fanatics are replaced by Serbs?

The epilogue in the book of which I was one of the co-authors "The Media Happened To Be There" bore what seems to me to be a suitable title "Disposable Journalism And Expendable Truth". With the numerous scandals surrounding the "great truths" of this war (equally absurd like in all wars in history), time has shown that this title is truer today than it was several years ago. But what is the point when so much injustice cannot be rectified. Many journalists are now trying to appease their consciences, like their political role models, for which they underwent what Peter Brock, a Texas journalist, very aptly qualified as "media cleansing". Perhaps it is time to launch a serious international discussion about these disturbing, totalitarian- shaded trends. At such a discussion perhaps it would be possible to coolly establish:

Like after all previous wars and in the wake of this one on the territory of former Yugoslavia, the need arises for the creation of a world body for media ethics. Such a body should immediately, powerfully react when drastic disregard for journalistic deontology imposes itself as a dominant factor. I wish to believe that the future of journalism is nevertheless possible, despite all the dangers of the multi-medial age in which pessimistic forecasters see the definitive erosion of this profession and its turning into a mere transmission of power. This negative Utopia irresistibly reminds one of the press in the era of Suslov, the powerful soviet Stalinist ideologist. I do not want the arrival of a virtual world and this greatly puzzling civilization of electronic highways to necessarily mean the disappearance of the code of classic independent journalism, the complete deontology of this profession. If this awareness does not prevail among all those who are engaged in journalism, then the outlook for the future of this profession looks bleak. The war in Bosnia, as I have tried to convince you, has provided a multitude of disturbing examples of distortions in the media and renunciation of the fundamental principles of journalism.

Presented at the Innis College, Toronto, Ontario, March 21, 1997 by Zoran Petrovic- Pirocanac, Centre for Geopolitical Studies SouthEast.