‘Minority media have a vital role in providing credible information that saves lives in the context of the pandemic.’
The 4th European Conference dedicated to minority and local media has ended today.
Speaking about innovations in culture and the concept of open cities, Biljana Mickov, a cultural scientist from the University of Reims/Sorbonne, France, emphasised that innovation is an inevitability enhancing creative processes.
‘In regard to the city, we have to understand it as a quality of life. In this concept, it is important to place culture at the centre of city development, which is increasingly happening in Novi Sad with the European Capital of Culture 2021 project,‘ said Mickov today in her introductory lecture ‘ Open City – Innovation in Culture’ within the 4th European Conferences dedicated to minority and local media.
‘Innovation puts citizens at the centre of the process development, allowing them to create innovation themselves and thus promote a new term – open cities. In this context, media have a significant role because they get more freedom for creativity and democratisation of society,‘said Mickov, emphasising that innovations stimulate the creative sector in all directions, they help make the development of culture in global cities more visible.
The second Conference day was marked by three panels focusing on communication seen from different angles. Marija Mandić, a senior research associate at the SANU’s Institute for Balkan Studies, talking with Natasa Heror, who moderated the panel ‘Present and Future’, drew attention to the term ‘lived multilingualism’, which primarily depicts the history of multilingualism in Vojvodina and pointed to today’s multilingualism:
‘In modern societies, we generally expect minorities to be multilingual and to adapt to the majority. I believe that in regard to communication we must work on some kind of equality in communication and, especially in ethnically mixed communities, work on sensitisation of the majority and the development of multilingualism in the majority ethnic or linguistic community.’
Vincze Lóránt, President of FUEN and Member of the European Parliament, recalled that in 2017, when addressing the 1st European Conference on Minority and Local Media, he stressed that minority media are essential for preserving the linguistic identities of minority communities.
‘Today, during the coronavirus pandemic, this statement has gained even more relevance,’ said Lóránt, illustrating it, as he put it, with shocking data from a survey conducted by FUEN in cooperation with the Minority Intergroup in the European Parliament entitled ‘Do you speak Corona?’.
‘We investigated the use of minority languages in 25 countries and in 43 minority groups and found that in 44.2% of cases, information on covid-19 was not available in minority languages,’ said Lóránt, adding:
‘Minority organisations and minority media were the only source of such information in their mother tongue, and this emphasises the importance of minority media for our society and our communities. Minority media have a vital role in providing credible information that saves lives in the context of the pandemic.’
Credible information and innovations are very much present in both minority and local media, which was confirmed by the panel ‘Podcast and Streaming” moderated by Vladimira Dorčova-Valtnerova, the founder and editor-in-chief of the ‘Storyteller’ portal.
The podcast is becoming increasingly popular in Serbia as well, as evidenced by the podcast.rs platform, a podcast aggregator from Serbia. ‘A podcast is audio streaming that is later available upon request. It is the radio of the 21st century, that is, personalised radio,’ said Vladimir Radinović, one of the founders of the podcast.rs platform, who noted that podcasts are not only prepared by media outlets and journalists.
‘Looking at the number of podcasts on our platform, there may be 10% of podcasts made by educated journalists. Most podcast authors in Serbia, and in the world, are hobbyists. That is, people with a certain topic that interests them very much, and they want to gather a community around that topic, to talk to people about it and believe that a podcast is a good medium that can contribute to that goal,’ said Radinović.
Community is important for all media, podcasts included. ‘In the context of community, podcasts are the right thing to do because a lot of podcasts are listened to through headphones, and when you have someone talking to you in your ears, you connect with that person,’ said Aleksandra Bučko from the Creativity Factory portal, who focus on the production of podcasts, and who is also the coordinator of the podcast production in the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina – NDNV Podcasts.
‘It is in this way that both media outlets and journalists can build the trust that is important for building a community, and then monetise that type of production. It is not easy, especially in Serbia, but there are ways to do it. So, it is possible, if you give a quality podcast, because then the community will give back to you,’ added Bučko.
Dragan Gmizić, the editor-in-chief of the MultiRadio portal, spoke about whether there is an audience for podcasts prepared by media and journalists, specifically the MultiRadio portal. ‘When the story is good, the audience exists. We are slow but persistent in achieving the set goals. Our imperative is to have as many good authors as possible and to address the audience in different ways. That is, to respond to the interests of the audience and the impulses we get from it,’ said Gmizić and added:
‘The offer of podcasts is huge and the world of podcast authors, where we can find out and discover a lot, is incredible. Reaching the audience in this country is difficult, but possible.’
Dejan Pavlović, co-author of the first podcast in the Ruthenian language ‘Kolo kazanja’, believes that Serbia does not lag far behind the world when it comes to podcasts. ‘Serbia does not lag far behind the world when it comes to podcasts, although in America, for example, everything started much earlier. We are reaching it both in terms of technology and podcast distribution,’ he said.
Streaming, and not only audio, is available to everyone thanks to social networks, such as Facebook, and the opportunity to broadcast live events has recently been used by the Croatian-language weekly ‘Hrvatska riječ’ from Subotica.
‘We are just taking the pioneering steps, as far as live broadcasting is concerned,’ said Zlata Vasiljević, the editor-in-chief of ‘Hrvatska riječ’.
‘We started a few weeks ago, although we are actually a print media, but we are forced to follow modern trends, so we have a website and a Facebook page. We started to broadcast event important for the Croatian community in Vojvodina on Facebook, because we estimated that it was important to enable the readers of the weekly to follow those events at the moment of happening. The feedback is really good and the number of live and after the event viewings was really great,’ said Vasiljević and added that she plans to continue with this good practice and to start a podcast.
This year’s conference edition mapped out the position of religious organisations and media in the context of modern media and communications. The panel entitled ‘Religious Media’ moderated by Marko Tucakov, a correspondent for the weekly ‘Hrvatska riječ’, was composed of Vinko Cvijin, a priest of the Catholic Church from Vajska and the editor-in-chief of the magazine ‘Zvonik’, Dušan Beređi, the pastor of the Protestant Christian Community in Novi Sad, a theologian, YouTube author of ‘Theology with Morning Coffee’ and Miroslav Keveždi, philosopher-religiologist, who had a constructive discussion on how churches communicate themselves, religious life and teaching, and how media tackles the challenges of reporting on religious communities.
‘Religious media, i.e. churches, have been present in media for many years, not only for the last thirty years. But throughout history this kind of information has had a different character. In regard to the presence of religious communities on social networks, there is still some kind of confusion, because the character of different platforms is interpreted differently,’ said Miroslav Keveždi, adding that social networks, as intermedia, offer a great opportunity to religious organisations and religious media.
‘How religious communities find their way around the Internet is an interesting question for a research, but the fact is that there is a growing demand from the clergy that those who normally deal with difficult theological issues must now combine it with the knowledge of media, which has also become extremely demanding.
As a representative of the magazine ‘Zvonik’, Vinko Cvijin said, among other things, that in the context of such and similar religious magazines, one cannot talk about financial sustainability, while Dušan Beređi reminded that creating content on religious topics for platforms such as YouTube requires good preparation and skills of technical, design, storytelling and content type.
Beređi also shared his views on the topic of marginalization, i.e. discrimination of certain religious communities in the context of public institutions, such as the case of the Protestant Christian community, which is included in the official register of churches and religious communities at the Ministry of Justice. ‘However, the mayor of Novi Sad, for example, no longer invites us to official events, even though it was a regular practice until fifteen years ago,’ said Beređi, adding that this does not prevent them from being socially engaged, which is evident in the case of ‘Duga’, a rehabilitation centre for heavy drug addicts, Beređi is one of the founders and managers of.
Foto: Čila David, Video: Geza Juhas