From Brazil to Brussels

Have you ever wondered what the national football team of BiH and the ruling alliance of six political party leaders in Bosnia have in common?  With substantial backing from the media, both have the power to steer the change, for better or for worse.


The night of March 22 when the former European champions Greece lost against BiH 3-1 was the epitome of happiness in most of the country. The victory brought together politicians, actors, journalists, priests and “ordinary” citizens. The air was vibrating with media headlines:

 

“BiH National Team United All Nations and Faiths”;


“Record by Record: Dragons Set Standards”;


“Dragons can do it!”


The euphoria that was generated in just one night over a single football match in the World Cup 2014 qualifications, blurred out all pessimism and gloominess, to which citizens are exposed every day through Bosnian media. Instead, it seeded optimism and hope. Most importantly, however, it illustrated the power of the media to set priorities and create a more positive and optimistic reality. Being in BiH that night meant a brighter future.

 

According to the recent research, published by the Association of BiH journalists, 80 % of the citizens in BiH find the media to be the most trustworthy of all social institutions. The media as the most trusted source of information are followed by religious organizations and the civil society actors. Such confidenceputs the media in a special position and vests them with a profound and powerful influence over the society. They can either fuel up the positivity and hopefulness, or create a continuous state of depression.


On the other hand, when it comes to political institutions and politicians in BiH in the past few years only one type of messages and sentiments is transmitted. The news coming to/from BiH and in BiH is almost exclusively focused on a chronic stalemate. Uncooperative governments, threats from Brussels, frozen relations with the EU, no agreements reached and a lack of reforms seem to be a permanent state of affairs in the country.


Especially in the last few months, very few positive pieces of news from the EU are sent to BiH. But how do Bosnian media report on the EU?


With the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Embassy in BiH and through the several months-long research, Populari aimed to understand how the media in BiH report on the EU. How many hours of TV programme are dedicated to this topic; who are the media leaders in this area; what do they think about it; and what is the end result. We have talked to editors, journalists, media experts, and domestic and the internationals actors that support local media.