conflict & communication online, Vol. 3, No. 1 & 2, 2004
ISSN 1618-0747




Ute Annabring, Burkhard Bläsi & Jutta Möckel
German press coverage of former Yugoslavia after the fall of Miloševic

In the past few decades any war that received considerable attention in the Western public (like the wars in Vietnam, in the Gulf, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq) has been followed by numerous studies analyzing media coverage during the war. In marked contrast, studies examining the media’s coverage of post-war or post-conflict processes are hard to find. This paper attempts to reduce this gap by presenting the results of both a quantitative and a qualitative study of German press coverage of former Yugoslavia from the fall of Miloševic in October 2000 up to the agreement between Serbia and Montenegro in March 2002.
While Germany was part of the alliance that bombed Serbia in 1999 to stop Miloševic’s policy in Kosovo, the fall of Miloševic implied a new beginning in the relationship between Germany and Yugoslavia that started a transition to democracy at that time. The aim of the quantitative study was to analyze how the German media covered this process of rapprochement, democratization and reconciliation. How flexible was the German press in covering changing political situations? Did the media contribute to the constructive transformation of the Yugoslavian conflict? A selection of 483 articles from the Frankfurter Rundschau – exemplary for the German quality press – were chosen for analysis with a modified coding scheme developed and used earlier by this peace research group (Kempf et al., 1999). Latent Class Analysis was used as the evaluation method. The results show that coverage of confrontational behavior and a critical evaluation of Serbia is still common in the postwar period, but there is also significant support for and recognition of the democratic transition.
The qualitative analysis gave particular attention to the identification of constructive, de-escalation-oriented aspects that journalists used in their reporting. A selection of 23 articles was drawn from five German quality newspapers, related to four important political issues in the named time period: the political transition in Belgrade; the conflict in South Serbia; the arrest of Miloševic and his extradition to The Hague; the agreement between Serbia and Montenegro. The analysis indicates that journalists use a wide range of tools for constructive conflict coverage and that they are prepared to use them when peace is on the agenda.


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On the authors: Ute Annabring, born 1966, Diploma in Psychology (University of Konstanz, Germany, 2000). Since 2003 she is a research assistant at the Peace Research Group at the University of Konstanz, working in a project on "News media as mediators of democratisation, peace-building and reconciliation in post-war societies". Cooperation in designing, organizing and conducting an experimental study concerning the reception and acceptance of constructive conflict coverage by the audience.
Burkhard Bläsi, Diploma in Psychology, born 1973, studied psychology and sociology at University of Konstanz/Germany and University of Bath/UK. Research interests: nonviolent conflict resolution; conflict and the media. Currently member of the Peace Research Group at the University of Konstanz, doctoral thesis on peace journalism and the news production process.
Jutta Möckel, born 1970 in Karlsruhe (Germany); has been trained as an assistant business consultant and is presently a graduate student of Psychology at the University of Konstanz. 2003 - 2004 she has been working as a student assistant at the Peace Research Group at the University of Konstanz.

Addresses: Ute Annabring, Fachgruppe Psychologie, Universität Konstanz, D-78457 Konstanz; eMail:
Burkhard Bläsi, Universität Konstanz, Projektgruppe Friedensforschung, D-78457 Konstanz; eMail:
Jutta Möckel, eMail: