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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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June 12, 2008 9:37 AM

Blogging from Belgrade

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - Three things come to mind when I hear about this country. The 1984 winter Olympics, the recent Balkan wars, and the Yugo. All these things are now history or are glancingly related to Serbia because of it was a part of the dissolved Yugoslavia.

The 1984 Olympics were held in the Bosnian city Sarajevo. Fears of violent relapse after Kosovo declared itself a nation were quelled when pro-Western parties won parliamentary elections in February. I assume the Yugo went south like the nation it was named after.

Clearly, there is much I have to learn about this country. I arrived today to take part in the International Press Institute's World Congress and General Assembly, which begins Saturday. I joined the North American board for IPI last year and this is my first Congress. IPI is based in Austria and has been working on press freedoms around the world for about a half century.

The program is filled with panels like, "When guns Fall Silent: An International Perspective on Fostering Reconciliation," and "The Challenges of Transnational Investigative Journalism." This being a press function there has to be something about profits. I prefer IPI's take on the profit question, "Are Profits Killing the News?" If this was a Newspaper Association of America conference the panel would not be worrying about the effects of profits on news. The theme would be how to consolidate and meet the quarterly demands of Wall Street.

Press freedoms and profits. This conference is in Daily Democracy's wheel house. Stay tuned. I will be blogging the conference and will write up posts about any observations I have of this city and nation.

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