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RFE/RL’s Balkan Service

RFE/RL’s Balkan Service is a professional and balanced news source in a region where most outlets reflect ethnic divisions, and media ownership by political and financial interests compromises journalistic independence.

Fast Facts

  • In 2019, the Balkan Service marked 25 years of reporting in one of the world’s most contested regions, championing professionalism and moderation in a media landscape that is sharply divided along ethnic and partisan lines.
  • With bureaus in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, it is relied on foremost for its balanced, local coverage of politics, economic issues, corruption, Russian influence, migration, and minority issues.
  • The Service’s digitally forward strategy seeks to engage the region’s younger audiences with programs like “Next Generation Influencers” in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia that respond to Russian disinformation. “Raise Your Voice” and the Facebook page “Not In My Name” help young audiences in Bosnia and Kosovo confront extremism and radicalization.
  • In its 2017 Freedom of the Press survey, Freedom House ranked the region as follows: Partly Free: Bosnia-Herzegovina (103/198), Kosovo (96/198), Montenegro (84/198), and Serbia (98/198). Not Free: Macedonia (139/198).
  • The Balkan Service’s award-winning journalists include Milan Nešić, who in 2018 received the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia’s award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism for his story about embezzlement in the construction industry in Belgrade. Sarajevo-based photographer Midhat Poturovic won first place in the 2018 BETA News Agency Photograph of the Year competition for best media photo in South East Europe.
  • The Balkan Service hosts the Jiri Dienstbier Journalism Fellowship in partnership with the Czech Foreign Ministry to train and mentor aspiring journalists in the western Balkans.

Impact

January – December, 2018

  • Website: In 2018 the Balkan Service’s regional website for Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro (slobodnaevropa.org) and apps attracted 6.0 million visits, 10.4 million page views, and 3.8 million unique visitors. The Macedonia Unit’s website (slobodnaevropa.mk) and apps registered 3.7 million visits, 4.8 million page views, and 2.0 million unique visitors. The Kosovo Unit’s website (evropaelire.org) and apps had 3.8 million visits, 6.3million page views, and 1.2 million unique visitors.
  • Facebook: The Service’s six Facebook pages registered 61.6 million video views and 1.6 million interactions (reactions, comments, shares) in 2018.
  • Youtube: The Balkan Service’s regional YouTube channel has over 30,000 subscribers. In 2018 it registered 16.4 million video views.

Facts & Stats about Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Population: 3.51 million (World Bank estimate, 2017)
  • Most Common Languages: Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 103 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 63 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 89 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 89 out of 163 (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Bosnia (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Bosnia Report (2017/2018)

Facts & Stats about Kosovo

  • Population: 1.83 million (World Bank estimate, 2018)
  • Languages: Albanian, Serbian
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 96 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 75 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 93 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 92 out of 163​ (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Kosovo (2019)

Facts & Stats about North Macedonia

  • Population: 2.08 million (World Bank estimate, 2017)
  • Most Common Languages: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Romany
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 139 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 95 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 93 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 87 out of 163 (2018)
  • Amnesty International: Macedonia Report (2017/2018)

Facts & Stats about Montenegro

  • Population: 0.62 million (World Bank estimate, 2017)
  • Languages: Montenegrin, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian, Croatian
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 84 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 104 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 67 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 58 out of 163 (2018)
  • Amnesty International: Montenegro Report (2017/2018)

Facts & Stats about Serbia

  • Population: 7.02 million (World Bank estimate, 2017)
  • Most Common Languages: Serbian, Hungarian, Bosnian, Romany
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 98 out of 198 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 90 out of 180 (2019)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 87 out of 180 (2018)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 54 out of 163 (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Serbia (2019)
  • Amnesty International: Serbia Report (2017/2018)

Updated: April 2019

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