Internet Offers Income Perspectives, BIRN Serbia Debate Hears

People in Serbia are willing to pay for good content on the Internet but there are major issues with clickbait articles, badly-produced news and commercially-led content, a BIRN Serbia debate heard.

A BIRN Serbia debate about the future of media financing entitled ‘How Much Money, So Much Information’ was held on December 22 at the Startit Center in Novi Sad.

Public broadcasting shouldn't be market-oriented, because that reduces its objectivity, Tatjana Vehovec, executive director of the Center for New Media LIBER, told the debate.

"We need to have services like media research centres. Mass media content begins with headlines like ‘You will not believe what happened’, and a lot of them are clickbait, while BIRN will not achieve anything if it becomes like that," Vehovec pointed out.

Srdja Andjelic, the creator of the radio programme ‘Mjehur na mrezi’, expressed concern that a lot of people feel they don’t need to get correct information and said that few of them are interested in what will happen to the media.

He also said that people who try to improve the content that Serbian media provides often run into trouble.

"A few of us have always had a problem when we tried to change it," he explained.

Dasko Milinovic, one of the creators of the online radio show ‘Dasko i Mladja’, said however that the internet offers new possibilities for content creators.

"People are running away from traditional media to the Internet and there is room for everyone," Milinovic said.

"Mladja and I decided that, since we didn't have anywhere to broadcast our programme, the best thing was to do something for ourselves. Our goal is to have as many people as possible who will pay to listen to us, so that individual payments don't have to be huge," he added.

"We were surprised when we were able to buy equipment and start work using the first payments. We should be thankful for the Internet which provides us with all that space," said Mladen Urdarevic, the other member of the duo.

Jelena Vasic of the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) said that her outlet gets most of its donations from the diaspora, but a lot of people from Serbia are ready to pay for its content.

"We have a fully developed system of communication with our readers, and from the very beginning, our idea was that if we work for the citizens, then they should be our donors," said Vasic.