Prime Time Crime
Balkan Media in War & Peace
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 howafter serving Yugoslavias communist party for decadeskey 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 lowlevel 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 postDayton 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 Serbias 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 editorinchief of the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje in 198894. He has received numerous awards including the World Press Reviews International Editor of the Year in 1993 and the International Press Institutes 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.