Balanced coverage of potentially ethnically charged issues is critical in the Balkans. A controversial law on freedom of religion was recently passed in Montenegro, giving rise to increased tensions in Serbian communities, where many people perceived the law as an attack on the Serbian Orthodox church.
Following adoption of the new law—and the resulting protests—the SCS Balkan Media Assistance Program (BMAP) key partner in Montenegro, Vijesti, played an essential role in providing accurate, up-to-date coverage of the law and the ongoing situation. Vijesti’s coverage attracted record traffic to its website, thanks in part to use of video blogs, livestreaming, and web platforms developed with BMAP support.
A live blog feature was viewed more than half a million times as events unfolded—a huge number, considering Montenegro’s population is only 630,000 people. The blog was developed with support from a BMAP Engaging Content Grant. Vijesti received training and equipment for livestreaming through a BMAP Technology Investment Grant. Vijesti journalists also used skills developed through BMAP trainings in multimedia and mobile journalism. Vijesti has cemented its place as a leading source of news on Montenegro. With 1.8 million unique visitors in the month of December 2019, Vijesti helped spread balanced reporting well beyond the borders of Montenegro.
BMAP is implemented by SCS Global partner Internews, with support from FHI 360, and works to strengthen independent media in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.