After the Balkans Infowar, A Marshall Plan for Media; or, Geeks Bearing Grifts?

Everyone’s a journalist until they report facts that Condi, Rummy or Vlad the Puto Impaler do not approve of: The Committee to Protect Journalists, for example, infamously declined to list civilian employees RTS Belgrade (above), targeted by a NATO cruise missile, as journalists and noncombatants murdered in the line of duty by state actors executing official public policy.

I noted with interest, and filed away in my head for future reference, the recent visit to São Paulo of the head of Serbian independent radio station B92 — now refounded as B2-92 — Veran Matic.

Matic gave an interview to Caros Amigos magazine on the state of media in his region in the wake of that very first field-test of the New NATO Infowar Doctrine during the Clinton-era Balkan bombing campaigns — fondly remembered now as the last “good war” of the “civilized powers” against the evil barbarians at the gates.

Which seems to have served as the precedent for such laudable recent developments as the targeted bombing of civilian employees at a Hamas broadcast facility in Beirut — it is hard to see how we can blame the Russian government for assassinating journalists who insist on asking the wrong questions when our strategic allies do the same thing, under an elaborate institutional structure that our own Pentagon developed, and in frank imitation of our own military’s numerous accidental pinpoint strikes on al-Jazeera personnel in conflict zones, for example, as the BBC alums at al-Jazz allege — and U.S. State Department participation in a Swiss private banking placement of an structured note for “media democracy promotion.”

The headline: “An independent journalist hated by all sides: Serbian broadcaster Veran Matic on how difficult it is to do real journalism.”

The story of how Matic, during the Kosovo crisis, was jailed in a place the Serbian government at the time knew full well was on the NATO target list for that day makes for gripping reading.

The interview is by U.S.-based Tupiscribe Sérgio Kalili, by the way, who talked to the fellow as he was receiving an award from the CPJ for his work — an irony that Mr. Matic was not completely unaware of, it seems.

I translate some excerpts, though the whole thing really deserves to be rendered into English and widely read:

Does Serbia have a free press today?
What sucks is that lately is that the quality of journalism is declining. It is declining because of rampant commercialism, the growing incidence of inappropriate and exaggerated editorizialing [
apelações], too many entertainment values and too little quality, too little coverage of important news stories. Sensationalist tabloids are starting to dominate the market. But there is no official censorship.

Sound familiar?

Key back-catalogue posts on other, more complicated, reasons why this is interesting: Alt.Finance and the Anti-MSM and Press Freedom as a Structured Product. See also:

Militarizing the Media Monopoly
Konstantin Kilibarda
Infowar Monitor, November, 2001

But never fear: After the regrettably necessary carpet-bombing of civil society back to the Stone Age, the Marshall Plan has now arrived to rebuild the cities of the vanquished in the image of the victor.

Never fear: Ethan and Rebecca are here.

The first celebratory shot in the PR 21-gun salute comes from enthusiastic new Global Voices Online contributor Ljubisa Bojic, who …

… is a journalist from Serbia. He promotes creative media use for education to increment people rather than entertainment widely available making 99% of the world news at present. He writes for Global Voices in his mission to publish what mainstream media don’t as well as to bring better understanding of his homeland to the world. He believes in citizen journalism theory (theoretically pioneered by Jay Rosen and first applied to its full extent by during 1999 NATO bombing) and doesn’t agree press are media. Great inspiration comes from HKU’s professor Ying Chan and former CNN correspondent Rebecca MacKinnon

[As to the entirety of the foregoing, sic –Ed.].

Jay Rosen invented “citizen journalism”? Really?

With all due respect to Jay — who is not necessarily proof of the maxim that “those who can, do; those that can’t, blog — what was eminent Brooklynite Heywood Hale Broun?

And a host of other free-press militants and ball-sout government transparency promoters and and sacanagens-denouncers we could name going back at the very least to Milton’s Aereopagitca?

Chopped liver?

Funny, Ljubisa‘s resumé doesn’t read like the resumé of most journalists I know, except insofar as “technology evangelists” use the “rhetoric of the technological sublime” to arrogate the title of “journalist” to themselves while disdaining the profession’s hidebound traditional time-tested principles of public information quality assurance in the name of innovation.


From a young age Ljubisa Bojic showed interest in the areas of advertising and tv journalism. He gained experience actively writing for high school and university magazines. During his trips around the globe Bojic worked as a honorary associate for numerous media. When he got back to his home city in 2002. he worked as a writer and host of IT Online TV show . This programme about cutting age [sic] technology was broadcast on RTK television. He graduated from the international Delia school of canada in Hong Kong. Ljubisa Bojic studies journalism at Belgrade politics department of Humanities and Social Sciences faculty of Novi Pazar International University (founded by Zoran Đinđić). TAKE A LOOK AT A SHORT CV

As always, circle institutional affiliations for follow-up Cmapped “organizational network analysis.”

An E-organization is often just an M-organization rotated deceptively through the ninth dimension, as Dave Weinberger somehow never gets around to pointing out.

[to be continued tktktktktk, after café de manhã]

And this interview with McKinnon the infamous GOFA-GIFA confuser I thought was jaw-droppingly disingenuous:

[to be continued tktktktktk, after more café de manhã]

None of which jibes with GVO’s stated mission and governance model, it seems to me.

[I can prove that with the black letter of the GVO mission statement, I think. Ah, but what is truth? Tktktktktktktk]

Comparing the Caros Amigos interview with this one, I tend to think that it illustrates an important corollary to NMM Rule of Thumb No. 1(b):

Give more credibility to interviews in which the interviewer has not made a highly public point of gluing his or her lips indelibly to the posterior of the subject of said interview.

The NMM Maxims, you will recall, are protocols for field triage designed to help busy editors and reporters sort press releases into a “bullshit” and a smaller, more manageable “not prima facie bullshit” pile.

Our dear friends, for example — they are HQed nearby in the Vilamadábia of São Paulo, by the way, in facilities that tend at first glance to allay the suspicion that they are eating picanha with fritas out of any public or private deep pockets — did ask the key tough question of the B92 man, and got an interesting answer on a topic I wish they had followed up a bit more on:

How does a radio and TV operation achieve economic dependence? The important thing is to take a balanced approach. Getting money from NGOs, government agencies, governments, UN agencies, private firms, and private-sector foundations. Do not confine yourself to any one donor or type of donation. It is also vital to have income from commercials, publicity, and to design a balanced programming schedule, with a good mix of commercial programs, like your Big Brother, and educational programs. The commercial programs will pay for the educational programs.

The Serb with verve then, it seems to me, rather rapidly changes the subject.

Have you any idea how well-known and popular Brazil is in Serbia? Serbs love and respect Brazilians for their positive energy, for Carnaval, for football, for its soap operas. Serbian TV runs ten [Brazilian] soap operas a day. The funny thing is that you will have a movie produced in Croatia in which a priest walks into a bakery and orders in Portuguese. And the girl behind the counter answers in Portuguese.

Futebol! Samba! Mulatas rebolando peladas! Oba! Cachaça!

Let me tell you the story sometime of how Neuza and I had to run a gantlet of crazy Panamanians at the airport once, who, discovering we were Brazilians — or that Neuza was, but I myself am learning to pass for a brain-damaged gaúcho myself — started up an insane chant along those same lines.

It reminded me of the anagnorisis [recognition scene] of Tennesse William’s Suddenly Last Summer.

As Chico sings:

Aquí na terra tão jogando futebol
Têm muito samba, muito choro e hroquenról
Uns dia chove outros dias bate sol

Mais o que é que quero lhe dizer: a coisa aqui ta preta,
Muita mutreta pra levar a situação …

What’s interesting in that brief analysis, however, is the extent to which it runs counter to the first principle of the State Dept.’s “media democracy promotion” campaign, according to which the only way for news media to maintain editorial independence is to be 100% supported by commercial revenues, within the framework and for the benefit of an “innovative” mixed-economy venture-capital governance structure.

Any other approach to the problem smacks of the dreaded welfare state — the equivalent Brazilian term of menosprezo and escarnho is assistêncialismo.

The Brazilian term for this rather doctrinaire, approach to journalism business models — student exercise: write down as many counterexamples from the NMM business-case repository as you can in five minutes — is, if I am not mistaken, pensamento único.

I quote:

[to be continued tktktktktk, after my second média com pãozinho francês e manteiga, na chapa não, brigadão seu moço.]


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