Young people are underrepresented in mainstream media in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The media scene is divided largely along ethno-national lines and can often serve to raise tensions or incite negative feelings.
KRIK, a project by the Banja Luka-based Portal Kultura website, aims to change that. It is a youth-run blogging platform that promotes critical and independent thinking, creative expression, and actively counters hate speech online and divisive, exclusionary narratives, by encouraging young people—especially from smaller and divided communities—to blog about their experiences.
“When you look at the current media, there’s a lot of drama, a lot of malicious things going around,” says Dejan Lujic, one of the KRIK team members. “In our society, the negative things like politics and true crime stories get highlighted. Gossip is also one of the main topics [in newspapers and media]. It is a bad influence on the young.” Lujic is confident that there is space in the media sector for the types of stories KRIK highlights. “Of course nobody can live for free and one has to make money somehow, but I still think that artsy and opinionated articles can perform well online.”
Founded by friends and members of a local youth theater group called DIS, the portal operates under the tag line “a generational scream against the reality in which we are being raised.” That is the inspiration behind its name, KRIK, which means “Scream” in Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian.
On the site, the team’s writers and editors pledge to “bring you stories that will not leave you indifferent. Stories that will make you think. We bring you real, authentic stories from different local communities, stories that will show you how Bosnia and Herzegovina is becoming a healthier place to live thanks to the young people who live there.” All of the portal’s writers and editors volunteer their time on the site.
In a recent blog entry that Lujic mentions as one of his favorites, a blogger using the name “Alisa” writes about overcoming the fear and the hatred she was taught from a young age for Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital city.
“We want people to open up and speak truthfully,” says Lujic. “Anything that comes from a person’s heart is worth mentioning, if not honoring,” regardless of if it goes against mainstream opinion.
Lujic, who is 24, says the website has filled a void for young people and that the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. “I know a lot of people that have given us feedback so far and they say that after reading articles they feel fulfilled and inspired. We have tons of comments like ‘this has made my day,’” he says.
He is optimistic for the future and in KRIK’s ability to challenge long-standing ethnic divisions. “As somebody who has had to fight for their own persona for so long, it is so refreshing to hear other people’s stories and to hear how liberated people are becoming as time progresses,” he says.
Project KRIK by Portalkultura.com received seed funding and mentoring support from the Resonant Voices Initiative