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Tabloid Politics Delivers Tabloid Journalism

Published on 18 November 2013 13:12, Aleksandar Tijanic*, Belgrade
Last change on 18 November 2013 13:13

The famous Serb journalist Aleksandar Tijanic has died on October 28th. His last job was chief of the Serbian Radio and Television (RTS). Mr Tijanic is one of the symbols of the journalism in Serbia and before that in Yugoslavia. We are presenting you herewith his first lecture on journalism before students in journalism at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, because it is quite valid not only for Serbia, but for the entire region of the Balkans. The lecture was published in the Serbian weekly Vreme in the end of October. You will find in it something about Bulgaria, a lot of food for thought in today's rebellious times in Bulgaria. Have a nice reading! (excerpts)

Who are you, people? What is your generation? Which is your song? Slogan? What does your badge say? Whom do you trust? Whom do you kneel before? What are you against? What do you stand for? What are you changing? Which are your books? What do you enjoy? Who are your future classicists? What are the reasons for your existence? Why are you in this world? Do you really accept the fate of being a generation created during a 3-minute long arrhythmic meeting between an unfortunate spermatozoon and a wailing ovum? Whom and how do you repay for such a fate? What will you do with these debts if you have not piled them? Does in your generation Ce kill Fidel? Do you want, as a generation, to be cursed, insignificant, a mistake of history? Do you want to resemble us?

Is, really, a look on Kim Kardashian's cellulite your only horizon? What do you dare? Those, post-war, guys after you saw The Beatles, Kennedy, Vietnam, Muhammad Ali, 1968, Woodstock, the flower power, the black brothers, the pose 69, Salinger, our Golden Palm, Nobel laureate Andric, the landing on the Moon, transistor, Bill Gates, colour TV, Merilyn Monroe, Commodore computers, the end of the USSR, Sean Connery, the death of Tito, the end of apartheid, Picasso, the CD, the fall of the Berlin wall, the opening of the Chinese wall, Bulgaria's accession to the EU, the civil war and the break-up of Yugoslavia. Do see the difference? Why do you agree with it? Why are you so indescribably loosely agreeing to be the generation of silicon right after the previous generation?

Take it easy. For now. You are not to blame for who you are. Nobody's genetics is that bad. You have been stuffed. You are exponents. Guinea pigs. First, the communism and long-lasting transition destroy the individual and generational integrity. Without integrity there is no personality. Without personality there is no civil audacity and responsibility. Without civil audacity and responsibility there is no democracy. Finally, the lack of integrity and literacy create today's Serbian journalism. The Serb journalism enthusiastically is taking part in taming the Serbian public opinion, thus contributing for an atmosphere in which everything is possible. People, due to a radical lapse of reason or for personal interest, agree in their majority Serbia sometimes to lock itself from within. They agree to give their children to others to be deceived as if they are not their relatives. They agree Serbia to be robbed as if it is dead.

They agree or are painfully silent when, with the help of huge public concussions and devastation, every ten years a lucrative promotion is announced of illiterate, unexperienced and obedient people. Is there anything not clear here? The tabloid politics inevitably gives birth to tabloid economy and then to tabloid art, tabloid journalism and in the end tabloid life of 10 hours daily zombing in front of the TV. This is not an accident. This is someone's project everything in Serbia to be reduced to eternal non-productive conflicts and an eternal war between our Šojić and their sultan Suleiman. As a matter of fact, kismet. You can only save yourselves individually. Through talent or with the help of your parents, it does not matter. Be better than the others. Be better then us. Take advantage of this chaos. Penetrate into the essence of the social processes.

Paradoxically, it has never before been that easy to make a career in media. Detach yourselves from the mass through literacy and integrity! Do everything without laziness! Be literate! And do not touch the fibre of the system. It is not easy. You have chosen the last slavery profession in the world. You are always dependent on an editor who is curing on yourself their complexes from their miserable lives. Of course there are different people in this profession. Some are dead. Killed because they were different. Others stubbornly hold on to their vanity because of selfishness, a painful desire to be different, to be respected, to be smart and influential, relentlessly threatening the peace, physical security and financial stability of their children.

To be able to understand how things you will be writing about work, you have to be at least able to see them clearly. In the Balkans every wealth, in general, is a product of arrangements, corruption, Alzheimer's (I don't remember where my money is from) or state mercy. In the middle of the turned upside down pyramid, which stands on the heads of the losers from the transition and the late middle class, money functions. The big money. To the right of the money are the parties and the state. In this segment almost every grouping works during a mandate for their own sake rather than for the sake of Serbia. To the left are the schools, church and media. The right maintain permanent order and fear. The left produce inertia, public consensus and the illusion that we are doing better.

Corruption, under which mafia thrives, connects just like poison ivy all levels of the pyramid. This scheme is valid for all times, societies and systems. The question is only about the thickness of the poison ivy and the system's ability to protect itself from it. Now you know that your parents are not guilty. In the worst case scenario they are only accomplices. Or at least witnesses. Or, even worse, victims.

Do not, out of snobbery, reject the significance of print tabloids or teletabloids for the Serbia's mental health. They collect the garbage from all over Serbia and put them on the screen or wrap it in paper. Unlike many, I would like every rich man to have a tabloid of their own. As a matter of fact, the editors of tabloids are decent people. They attack only those who are "paid" or "ordered" by the boss. Only then, in the comprehensive media war of the powerful, where everyone is an enemy, will we learn everything about everybody. They hold the truth, in fact. Piece by piece you will be able to do the jigsaw puzzle.

And now is the cliché's turn: journalists are not artists and even less historians. What could a future analyst learn from our time by studying today's news? What a conclusion could they extract about our culture, economy, literacy? We are writers of the present. That is why, with rare exceptions, we live in our time and disappear with it. Irreversibly, because this is how it has to be.

Colleagues, I might have accelerated your maturity with this conversation. I might have scared you. But I have not lied to you. I did not plot against you. I really want you to be able, as a generation, to denounce all my theses. I know that some of you will. Talent is an insurmountable natural force. In defiance of editors, ivy, the upside-down pyramid and the transition. Either you will succeed or you will not be. Do not be a decadent generation because you are sitting on a mountain of unread books.

*Translated by Adelina Marini

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