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War and the Media

Lou Davorija

The topic that I am going to talk about is war. More specifically about the war that happened in what used to be called Yugoslavia. There are actually three different types of medium that I remember having an affect on me these medium are radio, television, and newspapers.

On the verge of the war breaking out in Yugoslavia, Serbians bugged the apartments and cars of Croatian political leaders in order to get evidence that the Croatians were trying to start a war to divide Yugoslavia. The Serbians got videotape that showed prominent Croatians in an apartment plotting against Yugoslavia. The Serbians aired this videotape on national television trying to prove to the country that the Croats were plotting against the people. The thing was that you could not see their lips to see what they were saying. Three weeks later some Croatians from a show called bad kids (which was a funny show that made fun of people) doctored the sound to make it convincingly seem like the Politicians in the apartment were actually talking about construction. This made it look like the tape that the Serbians had possibly could have been doctored, which put some doubt in people's minds about which tape was correct. Shortly after this happened the war began.

The village that my family lived in was made up of about 52% Serbian and 47% Croatians. Tension in our town was very high just before the war started. At the beginning of the war, my father was captured by Croatians because he was a prominent member of the Serbian army in the city. So just before the shooting started my father was put in jail for 30 days for civil disobedience against Croatia. My father got out on a prisoner exchange, which is like admitting that you were wrong, but it was his only way to get out of jail for the time being. He was still going to be sentenced for 20 years, but the Serbs came back and took over the town. Now all of the Croatians were out of town, but they had a radio station that was still broadcasting about my town of Petrinja even though there was no Croatians there. One day on the radio station the Croatians were reading of a list of names of people that could not live in my town any more and my dad was one of the people on the list. This seemed very strange because my family and I were still living in that town.

Latter on as the war progressed and there was shootings and bombings every where things got damaged and people started loosing electricity and running water. No electricity meant that there was no television at all times. When the power was on which was for about half a day once a week. All of the adults would be glued to the television watching the news in order to find out what was happening around the country. If you watched the Serbian news they were saying that the Serbians were winning and if you watched the Croatian news they said that the Croatians were winning. As a kid we did not care so much about the news we just wanted to play or watch something else. And when it was your neighborhoods turn to get powerfully restored, another bomb would hit and take out the power lines. Being with television for only half a day a week went on for about six months.

As a freshman in high school, I had to go to another town to go to school because my town was still too dangerous for too many kids to be in the same place at the same time. One day after school, I was headed back to where I lived (which was just a residential neighborhood were families lived) with my sister. My mom was at work and there was random mortar fire, which everyone was used to. A mortar hit a house just a few blocks away from me. Shortly afterward a lady who still had a house in my neighborhood, but had been staying elsewhere, ran into my house frantic because she was not used to the shelling. The woman told my sister and me that we needed to go to her house because she had a deep basement. Just after we calmed the lady down another mortar hit a house on the other side of us. We finally decided to go to the woman's hose. My sister and the woman left first and I stayed behind to write a note to my mother so she would not get worried. As I was walking to the woman's house a mortar hit the house that I was standing in front of. The place exploded and pieces of the building went flying every where. I got off the ground and went on to the ladies house. Later that day a man in the neighborhood was actually killed. These were Croatians firing on a residential area where kids play, but this never made the CNN. The world television never showed the Serbians as being the victims even though most Serbians are.

When I came to the states and was working at Motorola, I tried to tell my co-workers that Serbians were not bad people and that you can't judge a whole country by what Peter Jennings tells you on the nightly news. While I was at this job the war broke out in Kosovo. I had a lot of time to fully read the newspaper because I tried to keep up on what was going on. The news kept showing that Serbians were bad and that the Albanians were the victims. The war was making the front page so I started cutting out pictures of Serbs on tanks and with guns and pasting them inside my cubicle, which I also shared with two other ladies who worked in the morning. The ladies had all there cute little things on the walls and I had my pictures of these big bad ass Serbians. One day the ladies came up and confronted me about the pictures that I had on my walls. I was sick of trying to defend Serbs and finally said that yes Serbs are bad ass and that no one should mess with the Serbs. I found out that it was futile trying to change peoples minds about Serbians because of the way that media was portraying Serbian people to be and decided to go along with the stereotype.

The way that the media covered the NATO bombings of Serbia was difficult for me to handle. My parents and my sister were still over in Serbia living in a new house that my father built which was in Belgrade next to a military air base. Watching the news in the United States seeing my homeland get bombed and not being able to talk to my family because the phone lines were usually down from being bombed. The only information that I could get was from the news in the states and that for me I couldn't believe and was incorrect. I couldn't listen to the news because I didn`t want to hear the newscasters butcher the names of the towns and the people. I still left the television on with out the sound because it provided me with pictures of places that I knew. The media in America is so filtered they only tell you what they want you to hear. Although, media is a convenient way to find out what is going on in the world, but if you really want to know the truth you have to walk a mile in those shoes yourself.

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