Theses Doctoral

Model Interventions: The Evolution of Media Development Strategies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia from 2000 to 2007

Johnson, Hawley M.

The United States, in cooperation with European governments and international aid organizations, has sponsored the development of independent media as a major component of both conflict interventions and democratization programs, and more recently as part of nation building efforts. This study explores the evolution and export of those dominant democratic media models and their impact on recipient communities in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia from 2000 to 2007. International donors came to see media development as a silver bullet for democratization efforts to foster freedom of speech, civil society, good governance, as well as an engaged citizenry. Donors and practitioners initially believed that institutions, once established, would function in a specific way, and coupled with assistance to professionalize and commercialize the media sector, would create or at least jump start systems similar to those in the US and Europe. Over the years, policy makers have identified the vital parts of a democratic media system, but what they have failed to fully understand is the dynamic interaction among them. Now, more than fifteen years after the end of the Bosnian war and twelve after the end of the war in Kosovo, numerous assessments by government sponsors and independent evaluators have reported success in achieving fundamental media freedoms in these countries, yet these media sectors have not demonstrated their anticipated transformative power – leaving struggling or dysfunctional organizations in the wake of donor financial retreat. This study argues that media organizations and institutions are trapped between pressures to commercialize and professionalize, which have become conflicting rather than enabling forces when combined with weak economic environments. In each of the countries in this study, a lack of synchronization among reforms, political divisions, and poor economic growth have contributed to a web of interrelated challenges. Despite significant economic reforms, growth and stability have never reached a threshold for systemic change.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Schudson, Michael S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 8, 2012