nettime's_roving_reporter on Thu, 20 May 1999 18:13:10 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> The Economist's guide to the war on the web


WE HAVE had birth on the net and sex on the net; now we have war on the
net. As NATO planes bomb the former Yugoslavia, American government
websites display what is destroyed. The Yugoslav government ripostes with
numbers of planes shot down, targets missed and civilians killed. Albanian
websites chronicle the flood of Kosovar refugees. Serb ones list atrocities
by Kosovar terrorists. All of this against a backdrop of interactive maps,
living histories, bile-filled bulletin boards and eye-witness e-mails. This
is the first web war.
The Americans lead NATO's efforts on the web, as they do in the air. The State
Department's clearly designed website is the best place to follow the
official version of the war, as well as the rapid evolution of American
policy towards Yugoslavia. NATO's site offers detail on the military
operations (including before-and-after photos of bomb targets) and
transcripts of NATO press conferences. Britain's contribution is more
modest, although a combined effort from the Foreign Office and the Ministry
of Defence provides a British perspective on the war.The Yugoslavs are
fighting back in earnest. Official websites are surprisingly slick.
Serbia's Ministry of Information fills you
in on setbacks that NATO may be reluctant to own up to, as well as palpable
fabrications. It reads well, the site is well organised and the English is
almost impeccable. Borba, an English-language daily
published by the Yugoslav government, offers a similarly slanted view. But
it does so less successfully because it reads more like an official
mouthpiece. - facts/index.html central government's
website explains the Serbian view of the history of Kosovo and includes
detailed maps of the province. It "exposes" a propaganda campaign by the western media
against Serbia and accuses the West of historical "revisionism". And it chronicles Albanian terrorism against
Serbs in Kosovo, complete with gruesome pictures of alleged atrocities.
Also pro-Serb, but independent of the Milosevic government,"Serbia Now! offers a more nuanced view of
the news. But its bulletin board contains this alleged contribution from a
British soldier: "Serbia is the new Nazi state in Europe. The SAS is
already with you and very soon now we will be coming to join them. Bone
Crusher, Special Boat Section, Royal Marines." Serbian Network flashes wanted posters
for Bill Clinton and other Serb hate figures such as Robin Cook, Britain's
foreign secretary. It also displays a NATO logo that turns into a Nazi
swastika. It is sponsored by America's Serbian Home Shopping
Centre, which is selling bed covers emblazoned with the Serbian coat of
arms to support the war effort. Another pro-Serb site is" which is run by Canadians.
Two American sites also offer a pro-Serb slant. Criticism of the war from
academic intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Edward Said are cited on" which contains links to a
wide range of international coverage. At the Common Dreams site,
you can get a left-wing American perspective. It is more anti-war than
pro-Serb, and it also includes handy links to a range of news sources.
Until it was shut down on April 2nd, Belgrade's Radio B92, provided an
invaluable independent Yugoslav voice, complete with live radio reports
over the net. a site in the Netherlands is co-ordinating
the international support campaign for Radio B92. Also alas now closed is
Kosovo's"Radio 21, which gave a
Kosovar Albanian perspective. Free radio survives in Montenegro, Serbia's
increasingly reluctant junior partner in what remains of Yugoslavia. Radio Antena M can be heard, though getting
the connection is frequently quite difficult.
Unsurprisingly, news direct from Kosovo is hard to come by. Eeerily, many
sites, such as, stopped updating on March
24th, the day NATO's bombing campaign began. But the Kosovo Crisis Centre is a good
source of information on the situation with refugees, and offers news in
Albanian for those seeking to locate relatives. It also prints letters of
support from around the world. The Kosova Press site does a good job of
collating Albanian sources on the war. The website of the Kosovo
Liberation Army is still up and running, complete with its ominous music
but it appears not to have been updated for a long time. A Croat
journalist, Mario Profaca, runs a nasty and tasteless anti-Serb site, a helpful and timely
reminder that chauvinism is not an exclusively Serbian vice.
Most television networks are covering the war on the web too. CNN's website is
first-rate. As well as up-to-the-minute news, it includes interactive maps,
e-mails from Kosovo and a message board for readers. Also excellent is the BBC's
site, which offers World Service news in Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian,
video clips and comprehensive coverage from BBC journalists. - Front.asp MSNBC also has a good
For a broader and more considered perspective, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, a
London-based charity, offers outstanding coverage and analysis in English,
Serbian and Albanian of a broad range of topics related to the war, filed
by reporters on the ground. One article suggests Muslims in the Sandzak
region of Serbia fear they may be the next victims of ethnic cleansing;
another reports on the Kosovan refugees in Skopje, the Macedonian capital.
It also offers free subscriptions to regular e-mail reports.
Coverage of Kosovo on the web is a godsend for news junkies and-the
archives permitting-for future historians as well. It is also a vital
source for anyone who wants to understand this agonising war by hearing
directly what the participants are saying.

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: