Introduction 2010 - Radomir Ličina

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Ten Proud Years of Good Work

Over ten years have passed since October 2000 and the formation of South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO). At the time, representatives from more than 20 Balkan media outlets came together in Zagreb, Croatia, not only to set up a regional affiliation of the International Press Institute (IPI), but also to examine the concrete ways in which journalists could be helped to cope with the problems and challenges of their profession in transitional societies. The problems were many and the size of the challenges seemed to be too demanding, sometimes even insurmountable. During the last ten years, however, the original ‘grass-roots’ group of 23 people from nine countries grew up into a powerful association of almost 1,000 leading journalists, top editors and media executives from around 20 countries and entities, encompassing the whole of South-eastern Europe, as well as large parts of Central Europe.

Even a brief description of the activities and successes of SEEMO over the last decade would take up far too much space in an editorial column like this one, but it should be noted that one of its success stories is the publication of the SEEMO Media Handbook (SMH). It started in 2003 and has continued to grow every year since, offering its readers throughout the region and the world plentiful, essential information about media landscapes from Slovenia in the west to Ukraine in the east. It could even be said that the SMH has become a sort of media “yellow pages” for the region because of its indispensable data on a large number of the most important media outlets in the countries and territories included.

Anniversaries are certainly a good reason to look back, sum up results and, why not, be proud of what has been accomplished in the meantime. But, they are also eye-opening reminders that too many problems still hang around the media scene – political, economic and social ones – despite all efforts of SEEMO, its members, its Secretary General and its two Boards. So, yes, we – the SEEMO people – should be very proud because a lot of good, even outstanding things have been achieved in the first decade.

Nonetheless, this rational satisfaction must not lead us into complacency. Media realities in the region, in transition countries and in the member states of the EU alike, are still jam-packed with the upsetting examples of hidden and open pressures and threats, political and economic ones, aimed against the basic values of free press and its vital role in every democratic society. Politicians, powerful business moguls and brutal underworld figures still tend to treat the media and journalists in ways that uphold their obscure and selfish means. And in some countries, regrettably, the public is not always ready to lend a hand of support to the efforts in defence of what is a basic public interest.

Let us hope that the content of the South East and Central Europe Media Handbook 2010, in addition to other objectives, will contribute to this noble and vital goal as well.

 

Radomir Ličina

Member of SEEMO Board
and Editor of SEEMO South East and Central Europe Media Handbook