Media digitalization isn’t news anymore but a reality. It is mandatory for all media, says Bojan Brezigar (1948), journalist, editor and politician from Italia, and tackles that minority media can’t forget older population which needs paper media as well. His professional background includes editorial activity in Primorski dnevnik, Slovenian daily in Italy, where he was journalist, editor in chief and later a member of Managing Board of this minority media. Nowadays he is a member of a Governing Board of the European Association of Daily Newspapers in Minority and Regional Languages MIDAS.
Why is it important that (national) minority communities have media in their own languages, or let`s say otherwise: why is it important to consume the right to information in their mother tongue?
B. B.: If we want to keep our languages alive we have to provide speakers with all the tools they need to use the language on daily basis in their own community. This means that they need all the information in their own language. The school certainly provides part of such information, but the school will probably not enable people to use their language while speaking on current affairs, being this politics, sports, features or even weather forecast. If we are not fluent on these issues we will never consider the minority language equal and we will be forced to use the majority language instead. Only media can give people all this information on daily basis.
Digital time started a long time ago, which means that minority media also started with an adaption, perhaps slower, but still adaption to the digital environment and to the needs of digital media consumers. What are your experiences when it comes to digitizing the minority media, on the example of the Primorski dnevnik, where you were a member of the managing board?
B. B.: I finished my mandate in Primorski dnevnik few months ago, but I have followed, as editor-in-chief, all the developments of the digital technology. Nowadays everything seems much easier, considering the development of the technology. Today digitalization is mandatory for all media that want to be in line with the needs of the modern era, but we should never forget our older population which needs paper media as well.
So after all, do you think that minority media must also have the #DigitalFirst strategy?
B. B.: As I answered to previous question I think that minority media should always seek a combination between traditional and digital. Minority media are in most cases the only media available to minority population in certain areas and insofar they should cover the need of all generations of population.
In order for minority media to hear, they must certainly cooperate and have some kind of network. How do they cooperate at the level of the European Union or Europe?
B. B.: You can well imagine the difficulties we face. Minorities publish media in Europe in some 50 languages. Daily newspapers cover fewer languages but here we face linguistic difficulties as well. There is a good cooperation between media in German language, including media existing in German environment, as Sorbian and Danish media. I think that Hungarian media are also privileged: there are Hungarian minorities in many European states and media could easily cooperate through Hungarian language. For all the other media any continuous cooperation seems to be quite difficult, even if there are some examples of exchange of articles through a common standard, e.g. English language.
Certainly, we all are aware of the fact that a minority media is development is more difficult than the national because of the lack of resources – human, financial, technical and technological. Is that precisely why you need to pay more attention to the development of marketing and attracting advertisers within these media or is it a solution elsewhere?
B. B.: Honestly I am afraid that marketing and advertising remain marginal fields. Most minority media cover smaller areas of the relevant states, they cover most of the families in their own territory and advertisers are not very interested in them, as they prefer majority media, covering the whole territory. We have to trust the States and convince them about the cultural role we are implementing, which is in interest of diversity, basic issue of Europe. By the way, European Commission has in several occasions agreed with the principle that minority media are not a free-market issue and financial support of those media does not infringe the free-market principle.
Just in a month we organize the first edition of the European Conference devoted to minority and local media that will be held on November 16th and 17th in Novi Sad. What do you expect from this conference, bearing in mind the experience of the previous conferences of this type in Novi Sad and bearing in mind that MIDAS, in which Managing Board you are a member, is a co-organizer?
B. B.: I think that is important that MIDAS intervenes for the first time in activities which take out of the European Union. Our people can bring to Novi Sad their own experience and we can share our activities. It is important for all minorities in Vojvodina, but it seems to be even more relevant for the Hungarian community, as it would strengthen the cooperation between Hungarian media in Vojvodina, in Slovakia and in Romania.