Issues that interest most citizens or at least those who are serious about voting, occupied very little space in the media
Translation: Fairpress
After the legendary 2 October, I often find myself wondering about whether we should have enquired more; have we all considered ourselves heroes after the battle had already finished or are we (still) selling “a bill of goods”. When I say we, I refer to all journalists in general, my colleagues and all the people that should have provided us with more information, apart from mere counting of votes, “counting blood cells” of counter-candidates, political party platforms memorized by heart and waving around with “our” and “their” flags. I question myself because I am a journalist, who is also an ordinary citizen and a voter who wants to know more and expand my knowledge, but also as person who doesn’t like to be deceived and referred to as a sheep upon the completion of vote counting.

Political party programs, their contents compared with similar programs provided by other political parties, including programs presented by independent candidates and their planned agendas, were altogether something we had already heard from local politicians during the pre-election period. However, we were not provided with more crucial information, including analytical texts and problem approaches written and posted professionally in a journalistic manner. Issues that interest most citizens or at least those who are serious about voting, occupied very little space in the media. Why did this happen? The answer to this question is mostly seen in the devotion to a particular political party, rather than devotion to public interest, partly in self-censorship. A part of the responsibility for this is also in fulfilling forms in creating the electoral content, but also in the lack of political analysts who would be able to present facts and evidence in most objective manner. During a period when most refer to themselves as analysts, referring to sources that make (un)biased analysis of political trends can best be compared to agencies that evaluate and estimate the viewership of certain TV programs – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. In all of this, the media seems to neglect the public’s, voters’ need to be provided with the right information, which it should not be neglected in the first place.

Citizens are entitled to know how their community will function during the forthcoming four years, during the political and governing mandate of those responsible, i.e. those that have been officially elected. In the wide specter of political options, citizens should base their selection based on activities conducted and implemented by the officially elected candidates in certain situations, including the candidates’ visions of the community’s future and the future projecting of environments for the forthcoming generations. The media must be more engaged in providing answers to these questions. My dear colleagues, I am afraid that we have this year, once again, become a means to politicians, instead of being public servants.

While we attempted to appear significant in the politicians’ eyes, we missed making a critical review of ourselves, once againd recall all the promises that had been made by former political candidates during the previous election campaigns, in municipal and city councils, and also to outline life issues and problems in the domain of local authorities and where much can be done in order to create communities developed and tailored in accordance with the public’s needs.

It seems as we were competing who would agitate more a war conflict rhetoric, instigate the eventual war conflict, based on the recent referendum issue on still blood–spilled ground, instead of asking ourselves why we feel the smell of asphalt in our neighbor-

hoods only during the pre–election period.

Is it really possible that we showed no interest in the community infrastructure at all, including the set of traffic lights and their efficiency, the reduction of air–pollution, the fact that our community hall roof is leaking and that pregnant women are pushing their baby trolleys while parked cars are resting on pavements?!

This election year, as never before, made me feel betrayed by my colleagues that managed to remain passive, somehow silent with their heads nodding quietly whilst listening to the rhetoric of the candidates, which, most of the time, resembled the cakes of Marie Antoinette, while the people in our country were seeking information on how to get some bread free of charge. What can a politician do on a local level in order to redirect the means collected from tobacco and alcohol taxes into health funds; to reduce the VAT rate and solve the vast number of problems of war veterans? Why did you let him fantasize that he can do this? How come no one pointed out that he overestimated himself and exaggerated in his political ambitions and possibilities, since he above anything else, would have no competences in striking any of the above mentioned issues? Why did you not react and respond to this, my dearest colleagues, why?

Politically (non)biased media houses, mostly relying on local budgets, have been consistent in not disturbing the candidates in their speeches that often resembled monologues, particularly when the guests were candidates, “financiers” at the same time, but “those from the other side”. They let the first promote their ideas, while to the second ones they gave the illusion of achieved objectivity in the overall reporting. All in all, the citizens paid the biggest price and they should have made their decisions based on the information provided through the media sources, but these media houses provided them with rough and approximate information and also provided them with no thorough analysis.

In Croatia for instance, which is not far away from us, there is almost no serious political analysis without the use of graphs/charts, statistics and generally, without visual elements that provide the public with more than just standard information. Our message to the public appeared somehow degrading, as though they should be satisfied if the TV program hosts a certain politician, where the host provides him/her with a glass of water and TV program with a little clock on the bottom of the screen measuring the time of the estimated speech for every single candidate participating in this TV debate show program.

It’s banal to even think that the pre-election campaign lasts only 30 days, terminating just prior to the moment of the election silence and public turnout for the elections. The citizens usually manage to follow everything there is about the elections every single day, not just during the election period, however an amnesia pill is given to them by BiH media houses creating a state of war, increasing public fear and with this feeling the public is given an opportunity to the choose less harmful evil out of two (or more harmful evils). “Ours” and “”theirs” are simply more powerful in comparison with concrete action plans of the forthcoming city or municipal mayor or even a city council member. The question whether there is any hope for local journalism in the first next future election days is usually hidden in the most used comment “we shall see”.

Bulletin “E-journalist”/Fairpress

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