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Prime Time Crime

Balkan Media in War & Peace

Kemal Kurspahic

One of the most courageous journalists of our time, Kemal Kurspahic tells a riveting tale of how media malfeasance stirred up the ethnic hatreds that led to the bloody Balkan wars of the 1990s. Drawing on extensive interviews with journalists in the region, the author recounts how—after serving Yugoslavia’s communist party for decades—key Balkan media readily shifted loyalties to nationalist ideologues, doing their warmongering for them.

Kurspahic shows how the media in Serbia “gave birth” to Slobodan Milosevic, who as a low–level communist party apparatchik befriended influential Belgrade journalists. “For them,” Kurspahic writes, ”Milosevic was the first politician who... showed an interest in the power of the media, combined with total disrespect for its freedom.”

But Prime Time Crime is also the story of independent journalists who risked their livelihoods and their lives in an effort to tell a more balanced story. And it is a disquieting account of how the international community post–Dayton undermined the goal of creating a civil society in Bosnia by leaving the nationalists in control of the media.

The book ends on a hopeful note with the election of a liberal democrat as president of Croatia, the gradual removal of the nationalist Muslim party from power in Bosnia, and the defeat of Milosevic by Serbia’s democratic opposition. In a final section, the author offers recommendations for the international community in the Balkans and comprehensive lessons for media intervention in other countries undergoing transitions to democracy.

Kemal Kurspahic was editor–in–chief of the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje in 1988–94. He has received numerous awards including the World Press Review’s International Editor of the Year in 1993 and the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Hero in 2000. Kurspahic is the author of three previous books: As Long as Sarajevo Exists, Letters from the War, and The White House. He currently is a spokesman for the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna.

Introduction Yugoslav Media in Tito’s Time Serbia: Manufacturing Enemies Croatia vs. Serbia: Lying for the Homeland Bosnia: Ground Zero Post-Dayton’s Missed Opportunities 2000: Change Begins Policy Recommendations

[ Here is a link to the original posting of the page on the US Institute of Peace website... ]

January 2003
348 pp. 6 x 9

$19.95 (paper)

$42.50s (cloth)

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