a fixture in Yugoslav music as a singer, and also a formidable journalist,
with thirty years experience of Balkan reporting. He was on the scene
am a facts person," says Bosse, sipping red
wine and Coke in his spacious
lived in the Balkans for 30 years, Bosse is
acutely aware of the factors at play in this turbulent region where
the truth is contested and concealed at every turn. In
Enter Bosse. His plan is to create a collective resource center for journalists at his Macedonian production company, UNETwork. The project seeks to make media communication cheaper, faster, and of higher quality. The plan includes provisions for dirt-cheap worldwide telephone access, broadcast-quality live video feeds over the internet, and the use of high-tech editing, production and even photo equipment:
"During the 2001 war," recalls Bosse, "there were a lot of famous pictures Macedonian journalists took, but they couldn't sell them to the international media because of their poor quality."
journalists and freelancers will benefit most from this "equalizing"
of the playing field. On the local level at least, this innovation should
radically improve the reporting of events from
The main idea, says Bosse, is a primary ISDN upload of broadcast-quality camera footage. Right now, major media organizations spend a fortune for high-quality uploads. Bosse's technology, which will utilize two primary ISDN lines, should cut the price by more than half. He will offer a Gateway with up to 60 phone lines that can transform from analog to digital mode through compression, connected to a computer with high-band internet.
The 60 phone lines will also have another vital purpose – keeping journalists the world over in touch. Members of the center will receive a calling card, and through punching in a pin code, will be able to go through Bosse's Gateway and reach the outside world – for roughly ten cents a minute.
Bosse is especially keen on the plethora of uses such technology has: "it can be used for discussion boards, business conferences, musicians working together on some projects. Everything is open, you can reach everyone 24 hours a day – all for a ridiculously low price."
Bosse's venture is even ahead of Macedonian state structures. He recalls, "I had a Dutch Radio show. They called into the Macedonian station, asking for permission to use their ISDN. Macedonian state radio does not even have ISDN right now. They may have the lines, but they don't have the equipment."
Although Bosse expects to cover phone line costs through the sale of phone cards, the hardware alone costs around $20,000. Recently several potential funders have emerged, and Bosse is actively seeking to widen interest in the project.
This assistance is vital, Bosse says, because he believes it is the media that will help change the political climate in the Balkans, by promoting cooperation and a dedication to the truth in reporting:
"I believe in freelance journalists – they're not paid by any boss, and so they need to work. They have the fire in their eyes – they don't follow the mainstream."
Benefits for Journalistic Cooperation
a country where ethnic mistrust is high and imminent elections threaten
to polarize relations even more, there is a
strong need for some form of media cooperation. While some well-meaning
foreign groups try to sit down Macedonian and Albanian journalists in
a room together and then prate on about standards, Bosse
is guided by an entrepreneurial spirit. If journalists were able to
work together on saleable projects, he believes, a common interest would
gradually develop. If Macedonian journalists were able to make a living
and report the truth, state and institutionally supported local
media would lose their power to spread propaganda. Yet currently there
is no truly independent media organization in
my Gateway system," says Bosse, "journalists
will have to work together – and the money will flow in. Right now in
Such projects are almost unknown and have a history of being done poorly, when they are done at all. Even large and well-funded "alternative" media outlets in the Balkans are, in Bosse's opinion, hampered by bureaucracy and inaction: "they have too many bureaucrats, killing everything. They come up with some beautiful ideas, but nobody does anything in the end."
Even ostensibly well-intentioned outfits have failed to follow through on their initial plan, says Bosse.
"Soros, for example, offered internet access to journalists. But that internet access was so slow you needed half an hour to open one page – what is the use of that? All the big state sponsors and ministries have always been enormously slow and ineffective."
These observations have led Bosse to stay streamlined and profit-oriented. He does not want to get caught in the trap that so many other local organizations find themselves in, waiting for that next grant to make upgrades, or even just to keep the operation afloat.
now in the Balkans, there are many powerful, well-funded Western organizations
seeking to bring "democratic values," "transparency," and more to
Little wonder. Western efforts are typically based on the rhetoric of values and ideals that are not necessarily shared by all parties involved – and perhaps not even by the benefactors themselves. Bosse's project may just succeed because it empowers those directly involved – with cash, and not just empty words. In a region where ethnic and religious divisions are deep, it often seems futile to reconcile individuals based on allegedly universal Enlightenment-era values. In 2002, capitalism is a language that everyone understands. Forced cooperation with lofty Western institutions on instilling "values" inspires little enthusiasm. If the opportunity for self-directed business enterprise is made available, both misdirected antagonisms and corruption will be minimized.
small and informal nature of the UNETwork
enterprise relies on generating interest from the local journalists
who will use the service. Given Bosse's long
experience and many colleagues in the region, the word is sure to spread
fast. Through revolutionizing the media technology available in
Previous articles by Christopher Deliso on Antiwar.com
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