The Yugoslav conflict formation – 14 issues

By Johan Galtung

Written 1996, edited 2006

What did we typically learn from the media and what not during the 1990s? Here is one way of answering that question:


In the right column are a number of narratives, stories waiting to be told.  They are all important in any effort to understand what went on. But the media over-selected the narratives to the left at the expense of the narratives to the right.  The argument is not that what is to the left should not be covered, but that what is to the right should also have been given a clear voice, a ‘glasnost’. Thus, the role as “war correspondent” is classical and honored; peace journalism hardly even exists as a concept in violence-hungry Western media.

As a consequence the image created was that all bad events, with no history, just “nationalism”, happen in Yugoslavia. The idea of “ethnic conflict”, with no context in time or space, serves that purpose well. Outside actors are only spectators, trying their best to help in a noble way. This lack of historical context is what Professor Svetozar Stojanovic refers to as “presentism”. Good media would reflect all three, past, present and future (implications, consequences). [Read more…]