‘The year 2020 has been challenging for media: it has given a lot, and it has taken a lot, too. Our opinion is that when we focus on the things that life gives, they can grow, and if we focus on things that are not there, the lack grows,’ said Natasa Heror, director of Heror Media Pont, the lead organiser of the 4th European Conference dedicated to minority and local media, which is being held online on 26th and 27th November this year.
This year’s content of the Conference offers a clear picture of what has been happening in the minority and local media in Serbia and Europe during the year, Heror added, opening this year’s edition. The first day provided a lot of information about how the minority media responded to the coronaravirus pandemic.
Craig Willis, a junior research associate at the European Center for Minority Issues and the Europa University in Flensburg, Germany, presented the results of the study ‘The Media in Minority Languages in Europe and the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Study of 10 Language Spheres.’ .
‘In many cases, the number of minority media audiences has increased, often by a significant percentage. A special increase occurred in connection with the news, which probably reflects the local nature of the pandemic. Minorities wanted to receive updated information in their mother tongue,’ Willis said, adding:
‘However, at the same time, there has been a decline in revenues from advertising, especially in the minority media in the private sector and those that are partly financed from advertising. Every time this was mentioned during the research, it was in the context of an existential threat, if things do not return to the regular level of advertising revenue.’
On the other hand, minority media were innovative in adapting to the changed circumstances such as the reduced content due to cancellation of various cultural and sports events, and came up with new, fresh content
‘Many minority communities moved their cultural events online, so the media took the opportunity to offer new, interactive and user-generated content, primarily on social media,’ Craig Willis added.
About the how and why behind the appearance of the Slovak-Serbian portal Storyteller from Serbia was created, as well as how it is developing, how it reacted to the corona virus pandemic and what innovations and experiments it introduced into its content was presented by its founder and editor-in-chief Vladimir Dorčova Valtnerova in her case study .
Inspiration and communication were the topics of the first conference panel, moderated by Vladimir Huba Aradi, a fourth-year student of the Grammar School ‘Isidora Sekulić’ from Novi Sad, which practically opened the conference door to young people.
‘Inspiration is elusive, while motivation is a process in which we can have feedback on practical basis,’ said Jelena Knežević, a sociology teacher at the school, adding:
‘Motivation in the context of education and teaching may be a contribution to a young person, motivating him or her to act creatively. On the other hand, we cannot be sure whether such person acted because we started a motivating process or to avoid sanction or punishment.’
Knežević offered a good practice example in the form of project teaching as a powerful motivation tool and method of working with students divorced from the ex-cathedra approach.
Damir Malešev, a philosophy teacher at the Novi Sad grammar school ‘Isidora Sekulić’, followed up on this topic, emphasising the role of leisure in creative work.
‘Western civilization inherits its spiritual profile from Greek philosophy, that is, antique spirituality, and, in parallel, from the long and powerful tradition of Christianity. This is how leisure taken in this sense in the poleis is related to the concept of the elite. ‘What has been the common denominator throughout the centuries is an almost banal fact that education is a privilege, as is the state of inspiration,’ Malešev said, adding:
‘I see the problem with the degradation of leisure as a product of mass culture and abuse of the media. Mass culture has democratised culture and enabled many social strata to participate in the world’s spiritual heritage. On the other hand, when mass culture in capitalism began to emerge as a source of profit, the elitism that drew the thread from the ancient polies degraded into an everyday product for consumption. This is what we call the production of kitsch and bad taste, which is the dark side of mass culture. As in information industry, which is one of the pillars of democracy, spinning is the dark side and a powerful weapon of corruption.’
Mia Nedeljković, a fourth-year student of the grammar school ‘Isidora Sekulić’, stated her opinion that the most important thing for media is to objectively deliver all the information they have. ‘The main goal is to make information available to everyone so that everyone can understand it in their own way.’
She added that nowadays, when we have a massive flow of information, it is all a big media race, in which everyone competes who will be the first to transmit information.
‘I think that it is difficult to use inspiration in such a situation, so media use motivation more because they have to deliver the content as quickly as possible and they have to be motivated to deal with routines. On the other hand, inspiration is a very important idea of every media outlet, because it creates stories. Without inspiration, there would be no point to media’, Nedeljković concluded.
In the context of communication, information and media, especially in the context of young people, civic education and media literacy play an important role. ‘Civic education has existed for many years in our school system, but some new topics are emerging now. Among the leading ones is the topic of media literacy, so we’ve made it a separate subject,’ said Ljiljana Nikolić, a civic education teacher at the mentioned high school.
‘The importance of media literacy lies in the fact that information is currently available in every place, at every moment. Another thing is that generations of our students are generations that use different technologies and that information is really there for them at all times – through messages, attitudes, etc. The point of media literacy is to enable them recognise what was sent to them through the information and their critical perception. In classes, we emphasise critical thinking to our students. You cannot be media literate if you do not have critical thinking,’ Nikolić concluded.
The organisers of this year’s conference are: Heror Media Pont, Mađar so, Storyteller, Hrvatska riječ, the Centre for the Development of Minority and Local Media, the Media Association in cooperation with FUEN and ECMI with the support of MIDAS.
The Conference was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Provincial Secretariat for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities, the Provincial Secretariat for Education, Administration, Regulations and National Communities, the Administration for Culture of the City of Novi Sad and the Novi Sad ECoC 2021 Foundation.
Follow the Conference on our You Tube channel Heror Media Pont and Facebook page Media Pont tomorrow as well. You can find the agenda for tomorrow on this link.
Photo: Čila David / Video: Geza Juhas