By: Jolein van der Ven
The other side
Kosovo has a very young population, but the youth is rarely heard in the media. When the international media pay attention to the country, it's mostly because of the past war or the huge unemployment-problem. Most outsiders tend to see Kosovo as a sad country ruined by war. What the world doesn't get to see, is how all these young people are coping with this. What are their ideas about the politics, the war, the economy? And what ? Kosovo can also be a very creative, artistic country. Luçi decided to show that side, to give all the young and creative people a voice too.
Luçi explains that the magazine and website Kosovo 2.0 is a combination of quality journalism, traditional media and the new world of social media and artistic design.
Also they just started a project on their website to encourage civil journalism: “We try to get people to get their phone with camera and use it. A few people are now making video-blogs for us, which is a great new way to get people to speak.
'I always wanted to get involved in something big'
When she was 16, she knew she wanted to get involved in journalism. After seeing the news on BBC and CNN on the bombing in 1999, she got frustrated.”I thought: that's not all, there's more to Kosovo. That's the reason I got into journalism. I wanted to show more of Kosovo than war images.
I choose for the direction of magazine because you get to spend more time on one subject and make more human interest-stories.”
Then she met Joan de Boer, a Dutch photographer from Holland, and together they came up with the plan to start a whole new medium.
Luçi: “I think I always wanted to get involved in something big. When I was in high school, I was in charge of the school paper, but when I came back from doing my master in the US, I didn't see myself getting a job in the mainstream media of Kosovo; I wanted something different, I was looking for something. It's very difficult to start your own magazine, you need some luck. My luck was that Joan and I met. We both helped each other in creating Kosovo 2.0.”
Apparently many Kosovars were looking for something like this, because when the website was online for only 30 minutes, it crashed due to the huge number of visitors. Nowabout1500 visitors visit Kosovo 2.0 daily.
Taking a first look at the website, one thing immediately is very striking: someone very creative is behind all this. It looks artistic, modern and diverse, exactly what the content offers you. With several bloggers, vloggers (video-webloggers), photographers and artists, the website, like the magazine, offers a whole world of creative ideas, diverse opinions about politics, economics and news. But also funny and beautiful short movies, documentaries and small scale projects.
Diversity is very important to Besa. She explains that she doesn't always agree with the opinions written on her website. “But that's not the point. I want that diversity, I want people to think about the subjects and discuss them. And that's what happens on the website; people are actually discussing important matters amongst each other.”
That's also why Joan and Besa allow every comment and never delete one. “Everybody needs to be able to speak. Luckily everybody stays respectful. We never need to delete a comment. There are no hate-comments or attacks at all. Only oncea regular visitor of the site posted a sentence with an offensive word, so we send her a message that we weren't very fond of that and she never did it again.”
“I think the website is best described as 'new media', which isn't very common in Kosovo. All the media are online and everything, but our approach is different; we use bloggers and vloggers and started out as a website. The website is very well receivedby the other media, but I think with the magazine we are more professional. Several reporters of some of the mainstream media in Kosovo contacted us, wanting to help out with the magazine and making sure they could do it anytime??. That's because they want to see it work, which is good because the magazine is available in English as well, so we are also targeting people abroad, everywhere. They want this product to get into the hands of as much people as possible. Everybody is being very supportive, which is very great.”
'Kosovo 2.0 has become a certain brand. It's a little community.'
The latest issue, called 'Corruption', was launched on the International Anti Corruption Day. Luçi tells that she doesn't know the main reaction to it yet, because they immediately came to the Netherlands after launching the issue.
“The private media give us attention, we've been on programs talking about the project and in some newspapers with a little article, but we aren't getting mentioned that much by the media.
Media professionals come to our events and support us individually. We didn't put that much emphasis on getting the media on top of it, as much as we have tried to get the people involved.
The first issue got a lot of attention by internationals and the government, so you can tell there's a whole lot of talking about us. My friends told me that people are already talking about it a lot. With people waiting for the project, we created a lot of talk. I don't think it will be too serious.”
By offering a diversity of political opinions and angles, Joan and Besa hope to create a whole new Eco-system in which people can recognize themselves.
On the social media they're very popular; every week they get about a hundred new 'likes' on Facebook. Before the website even went on-line they already had a thousand likes and fifty bloggers talking about it. “In Kosovo, Kosovo 2.0 has become a certain brand. Behind the magazine there's a whole world, you can see that immediately. It gives a voice. It's a little community.”
Kosovo 2.0 wants to compete with other modern media and is therefore building an application for the iPad. “In the future, I see us becoming great, becoming an international organization and increase our activities, with a lot of people being involved. We offer a different kind of education, we offer what's missing. I don't want us to be a big media-institute but I would love to see the day we're big and international and I think I will. That's what I'm focusing on right now.”