WHY IS (DE)CENTRALIZATION IMPORTANT?
Participant in IV generation of the “Creative Mentorship” program, journalist of the daily newspaper “Danas” Bojana Bačić has shared her thoughts with us after a study trip to Niš!
Did you know that the First World War news was in Serbia announced in Niš first? The cabinet of the Serbian government and prime minister Nikola Pašić was placed in the site of today’s University Library in the period from July 1914 till October 16th 1915. Here Pašić received a telegram by which the Austria-Hungarian declared war to Serbia A little later, Pašić addressed the citizens of Niš from the balcony of today’s University Library.
I have to admit that I know very little about Niš, and if I don’t count a transit passage, unfortunately, the road rarely took me to this part of Serbia. Thanks to the “Creative Mentorship” programme during the study visit in Nis, I had the opportunity to look at this city from different angles through the prism of various institutions such as the University Library “Nikola Tesla” and the Gallery of Contemporary Fine Arts, as well as the contemporary concept of Nišville jazz festival, the space for creative work “Deli” and National Coalition for Decentralization.
I just heard the story from the beginning of this text during this visit. Certainly the strongest impression I carry from this short, but worthwhile study trip is the incredible love and pride of all our hosts when they talked about their city. I heard just a few people from Belgrade talking with that kind of enthusiasam about their city.
Who can make the best decision about your city?
It is precisely Niš that has recently reached the heart of the public throughout Serbia, because of the airport takeover by the Republic. The citizens are determined to keep the airport in the hands of the City of Niš. One of the main arguments of those who support the republican government is that there is no difference between the City and the Republic. Who can make the right decisions about your street or city, your neighbor or someone who is 200 kilometers away from you and understands a little about the needs or the problems that citizens face daily?
Today, due to various (un)objective reasons, local media are in an extremely difficult situation. Somehow always minimized from the main events, there is no sense for the importance of local topics. In Belgrade, the city sections are too narrow. The mistaken opinion was that it is more important what the president of the republic stated on that day as part of his regular activities, from for example how the public transport system works or what are the real problems of the citizens of the main and largest city in Serbia.
At the recently held world conference on City Changeers in Vienna, architects, urban planners, journalists, city leaders and activists from around the world exchanged experiences and talked about the challenges facing contemporary cities.
A workshop for journalists on reporting of local topics was held at this conference. One could feel that the greatest challenge for contemporary journalism is to tell the local story in such a way that it is interesting to the global audience. As the leader in the press world, Guardian has already decided to tackle this challenge. Thus, Guardian Cities, which exclusively deals with local stories that could be of interest to the public around the world, was launched.
What is lacking is the consciousness of the authorities, but also the citizens, that there are no strong states, without strong local communities.
Convert traditional to modern approach
The photo of the newly-established monument to Yuri Gagarin in New Belgrade, posted on Twitter, turned calm Sunday afternoon, in the evening in which everyone is shouting about the monument to Gagarin. The story of an unsuitable monument appeared tomorrow in the media, and the very next day the initiators (probably) understood the mistake of setting up such a monument.
What would happen if the photo was not posted on Twitter – probably nothing. The monument would still be in the same place and possibly in local people’s stories at New Belgrade’s taverns.
Somebody once said that the social networks are the eighth force in the world and I think it wasn’t a mistake. How much they can be strong and necessary in informing the citizens was showed on the example of floods in Obrenovac and the earthquake in Kraljevo.
New time brings new tools. Laws of journalisam such as checking sources of information and the credibility of sources continue to be equally valid. Nothing changes in the profession itself, nor the human need for sensations, rumors and gossip, but also nothing changes when we speak about the need for useful information.
That’s why, with the support of Đorđe Krivokapić, the founder of the SHARE Foundation and professor at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences as my mentor, I try to convert my previous experience in journalism into a more modern approach, which among other things includes the learning about and applying online, data and civic journalism.
The world has become a global village and a large global network long time ago, it remains only to see whether we will mumble or connect to it well.