Contextual Content

Erroneous CNN footage angers Serbs

Some of the footage that the CNN news channel used in its Wednesday report on protests in Belgrade over the arrest of war leader Radovan Karadzic was not actually from the Serbian capital.

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Story Transcript

CNN MIXES BELGRADE RIOT VIDEO, QUESTION OF MISTAKE OR INTENT?

VOICEOVER: This is the footage that made some people do a double take—CNN’s coverage of this week’s protest action in downtown Belgrade. Fifteen thousand demonstrators gathered to show their support for wartime fugitive Radovan Karadzic. But these are the real pictures of what happened. Around 200, mostly youngsters, breaking away from the crowd and starting to throw stones and bottles at police. The problem with what CNN claimed to see and put on the airwaves is, firstly, there were no fires on the night. There’s no [inaudible] in Belgrade. And what’s more, protesters weren’t sprayed by water cannon. There were also nowhere near as many rioters as in these pictures. In this Internet café, angry Serbs are writing their comments on the YouTube website, and their accusations are strong.

MAN (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): They’ve been doing it for decades, from before the war began. They lie about us. They did it on purpose, definitely.

MAN: I was surprised. I’ve seen that footage on CNN. Obviously, [inaudible] expect that from them. Now I think, you know, this is kind of different. I see them in a different light now.

VOICEOVER: The supplier of the pictures CNN used said it had sent the wrong images. But some believe the channel deliberately used it. Vladimir Djukanovic was at the protest, covering it for one of Serbia’s daily newspapers. He says what he saw and what was broadcast on air were two completely different events.

VLADIMIR DJUKANOVIC, JOURNALIST, PRAVDA DAILY (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): I don’t think it was a mistake. It’s a political decision, because they want in every possible way, with whatever footage they can, to support the Belgrade government, because it’s a puppet regime that does things for the West and for CNN. They need this to illustrate what they want politically.

VOICEOVER: The press in Serbia is divided over what they think of the western media’s coverage of their country. Some say journalists work with an agenda to portray Serbs as the bad guys. But Nadezda Gace, who heads the Independent Journalists Association, disagrees.

NADEZDA GACE, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): I’m positive it was a mistake. Even the way in which they broadcast it had no special message or insinuation that CNN hates Serbs. I don’t think Serbs will interpret it in that way, although our society’s divided between pro-European Union forces and conservatives. So maybe people can interpret it differently, but I don’t think ordinary viewers will think CNN did it deliberately.

VOICEOVER: Now, again, Serbia and the Western trial of Radovan Karadzic is front-page news, and journalists are having a field day speculating what will happen. In the months to come, Karadzic will no doubt remain in the headlines. But how news organizations cover this sensitive story will be just as important. Many on both sides will be venting their feelings through new media outlets like YouTube. But established broadcasters like CNN still play a vital role in shaping public opinion over this high-profile trial, and their output will be under close scrutiny. [inaudible] RT, Belgrade.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.