Social media versus Local media in Kosovo and their impact

min read


Three decades since the start of the post-socialism period in the Western Balkan region, freedom of expression and access to information remains one of the most discussed issues due to its impact, intensity, socio-economic consequences and evolving nature. The importance of having a comprehensive access to technology by the local media fills a critical knowledge gap and offers the necessary evidence to citizens including local/central decision-makers, both on impact and trends related to media outlets’ evolution. It also provides policy makers with real and tangible information from the ground helpful to further develop policies and strategies on how to address certain topics that impact societal wellbeing.

Societal wellbeing goes hand in hand with the development of media and mass communication since it has noticeable effects on individual and social behavioral improvements and this is inherited from generation to generation. Information transmitted by the media navigates our lives, whether it’s a new hospital opening down the street, excessive spending of local decision makers, or a road maintenance project that will affect citizens' daily commute. Local media by sharing the verified information demonstrate the importance and the critical need for quality journalism in order to ensure a strong and informed society. Nowadays, it gets harder and harder to verify if the information we receive is completely accurate and correctly verified.

Due to economic obstacles not all the media are able to hire professional journalists committed to provide true and verified information to the audience, therefore we get bombarded with unverified information from different sources.

In Kosovo, the development of the media has followed a similar trajectory to the development of the Kosovo society as a whole. As a result, certain problems and challenges that the society has faced during the period of transition can be clearly seen reflected in the media landscape. Technological transformations and the new dynamics of transition have affected the whole media spectrum around the world, including local media outlets in Kosovo. With new technological trends, local media in Kosovo are usually those left behind and still in need of external support to be equipped with skills and technology; while the struggle remains to keep consistency in fostering democracy at a local level. Sometimes local media urge external financing so much to survive, which makes them overlook their primary mission in order to comply with the donor requirements, by bypassing the real community issues stemming at the local level.


Social media impact

Kosovo communities’ social media platforms remain one of the key platforms where people get informed about the latest news happening in their surroundings. The goal of social media-online platforms is to help people build social networks or social relations. However, the impact of social networks on young people remains significant, which makes us understand that social media plays a crucial role in people's lives. Having access to digital tools such as smartphones, laptops to check status updates from their friends and family. With the advancement of technology, people of Kosovo are pressured to endorse different lifestyles. 

With the advancement of social media, a lot of outlets from Kosovo have accounts on social media where they allow users to have conversations, share information and create web content. With the creation of social media not only the lifestyle has changed but also the need for instant news which is disseminated in different forms to the audience such as blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, social networking sites, photo-sharing sites, instant messaging, video-sharing sites, podcasts, widgets, virtual worlds, and more. With the use of social networking, the local media can advertise or communicate in a more efficient way. Moreover, people don’t have to rely on the media or TV to get their daily dose of news; it can all be obtained from a social networking site. 

Looking from a professional perspective, media outlets by being active on social media platforms managed to expand or broaden information to the targeted audience in a particular field and by connecting with other professionals in the same industry. Social media allowed them to have conversations with our audience, gain instant feedback, and elevate their brand.

According to TV Prizreni media outlet, it is not enough to have news broadcasted but to share them on social media as well in order to have a bigger outreach and at the same time a feedback from the audience.

Social media facilitates a massive impact on society, moreover changing the lifestyle of society.


Local media impact on the community 

On the other hand, the impact of local media remains crucial in terms of sharing news and information related to the local environment since their job is to bring the news down to a local level for its audience, and tell the audience how it might impact on them or affect them. The local radio station from Prizren, Romano Avazo, is an example of this. They managed to raise a lot of community issues and played the bridging role between decision makers and local community. Even though they are a radio station they are active on Facebook where they share their productions to a wider audience.

According to local media outlets they have much in common since their focus is on a small, geographically defined area. Local media in Kosovo became an important part of the information space because of the easy access to community concerns. Community involvement is quite present in local media coverage since it focuses mainly on informing the audience on the events happening in the city, municipality, or village. These facts enhance the overall function of the local media by giving the sense of belonging and personification with the media, and thus with the community. As a local TV station, TV Prizreni covers mostly national and regional events, but often they “localize” their news stories with more involvement of the local community. According to TV Prizreni, the diversification of news dissemination is more a demand rather than a choice. Also that television continues to remain more a medium of feeling, with communications presented in short, compelling sound bites “to the point” information that can be shared quickly. 

Local media in Kosovo are mainly focused on its role to serve local communities.The importance of the local media, recognizing that it plays a crucial role in fostering democracy and providing access to an assortment of communities to the public debate in a country. From this point of view, it appears that the function of the local media for the local democracy is closely related to other important elements, such as the diversity and pluralism of media operators at local level. 

This would mean that it is not important to just have media outlets at a local level, but that they should provide space to different voices within the community and reflect a pluralism of opinions, ideas, ethnicities, and cultures. On the other hand, weakening of the local media, or audiences losing interest in their work, could have wider social implications.

Dafina Beqiri has over 18 years of professional experience in organizational, strategic development and change management. Throughout her career, she worked closely with various media stakeholders in Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia and Western Balkans region. She has extensive knowledge about media and communication needs in the region since she has been leading numerous initiatives (such as the one with the Council of Europe) related to the promotion of freedom of expression and press with a focus on dialogue and reconciliation in the Balkans. Her cross-cultural and international experiences enhanced her natural leadership skills and enabled her to become a great mentor and coach on different topics that require support in organizational development, intercultural dialogue and leadership.

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