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The Aesthetic Alchemy of Sounding Impartial: Why Serbs still listen to 'the BBC conspiracy'

Bulić, K., 2010. The Aesthetic Alchemy of Sounding Impartial: Why Serbs Still Listen to 'the BBC Conspiracy'. Journalism: Theory, practice and criticism, 11(6); Tuning In Working Paper Series, No.14.

The decisive developments in the region once known as Yugoslavia, notably between 1987 and 2008, received substantial coverage by the BBC World Service both in its regional language services and its world headlines. We shall explore now how the Serbian audiences acquired information based on Western sources, particularly by tuning into the BBC, and how that information is critically talked about within Serbian public and private discourses. These discourses are decidedly multi-faceted, given the way they embrace all vailable sources: they are, for historical reasons we shall address shortly, eclectic in the best sense of the word: tune in to all media, but also always suspect all media of their own agenda. Interest in the BBC thus always comes coupled with systematic skepticism – as indeed do all other international broadcasters from Washington via Berlin to Moscow. The BBC’s aura of impartiality and its ex-Yugoslav audiences’ responses are therefore analyzed via the evolution of media-critical discourses. This distrust of any single media source can sometimes border on ‘conspiracy theories’, yet the latter term may equally be evaluated as a public civil culture of skeptical comparison. Some of these brim with insights unknown even to BBC habitués; others an nly be dubbed as ‘conspiracy theories’ To trace this dialogical story and history of ‘the BBC and Yugoslavia’, let us take their common historical starting point.

Authors: 
Bulić, Kamenko
Journal: 
Journalism: Theory, practice and criticism
Publication date: 
December 2010
Project reference: 
Politics of Translation