11 Jul 2018

Tribute to a free-thinking magazine

Since the legendary satirical anti-establishment political magazine Feral Tribune ceased publication ten years ago, dissenting voices in Croatia and the Balkans have diminished.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Tribute to a free-thinking magazine - NewsMavens
Front pages of the Croatian press show reactions a day after the European Union delayed Croatia's bid to start membership talks, Thursday, March 17, 2005. Darko Bandić/AP

Why this story matters:

Feral Tribune (or Feral, as it was usually called) was launched as an independent political magazine in June 1993 in the Croatian coastal city of Split. The editorial team called it a "weekly for Croatian anarchists, protesters and heretics."

The magazine ceased publication in June 2008 due to financial difficulties.

Currently, the Balkan media landscape seems to be varied and rich, but only on the outside. As soon as you look closer, you'll see that there's more media but less media pluralism. 

Boris Dežulović, one of the founders and editors of Feral Tribune, has been writing columns for numerous media outlets in the Balkans in his post-Feral days. The censorship he successfully fought against through Feral has beaten him already several times when editors of several Bosnian daily newspapers refused to publish his satirical pieces. 

The last time, it was Bosnian Oslobođenje daily that ceased their cooperation with him because of a piece he wrote, which Oslobođenje's editor-in-chief considered as hurtful to the religious feelings of Bosnian Muslims. Coincidentally, this happened last month, on the 10th anniversary of the death of Feral. 

The number of Balkan news magazines on the Internet rapidly grows, but what they write about often lacks any critical stance or is manipulated by politics. 

During the last ten years, several iconic media outlets, such as Serbian E-novine, Bosnian Polikita and Croatian Vjesnik, have shut down. Some print magazines, such as Bosnian Slobodna Bosna turned to online platforms to survive but when they did -- they lost their sharpness and became "just another news portal." 

Details from the story:

  • Before becoming an independent magazine, Feral Tribune was a Sunday supplement to Slobodna Dalmacija newspaper.  
  • Its sharp criticism of the Croatian government caused the magazine numerous lawsuits and fines. At the same time, it was hugely popular among readers in Croatia and the other countries of former Yugoslavia.
  • Feral received numerous international press awards, among them the IPD Freedom of the Press Award, International Prize for Freedom of the Press and Golden Pen of Freedom Award. 
  • Boris Dežulović won the European Press Prize in the Commentator category in 2013. 
  • A digital collection of Feral magazines was published as a DVD package in 2010. 
  • One of Feral's co-founders, Predrag Lucić, passed away in January this year. Another two members of the founding Viva Ludež trio, Boris Dežulović and Viktor Ivančić, currently write for regional media outlets.
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