Government and the freedom of the press: an 11-year content analysis of three Croatian newspapers
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This study explored 11 years of Croatian press by coupling historical, political and media history with a content analysis of three Croatian newspapers and interviews with editors. Findings revealed that the relationship between government and media, though tumultuous, was parallel in terms of transition. Between 1990 and 2000, Croatia had three different forms of government. This study showed that the media traveled through three periods as well: The “Tumultuous Media” period (1990-1994) where censorship was present, yet not completely a component of the media; the “Veil of Censorship” period (1995-1998) during which time censorship was suffocating the media; and the “Recovery Period” (1999-2000), where with the rule of Croatia’s new president, Stipe Mesic, the media began to experience more freedom. Findings indicated that the three newspapers significantly differed in their reporting of the government, supporting the hypotheses that each of the newspapers would respectively fall into one of the following categories: pro-government, antigovernment and neutral. Building upon Siebert, Peterson and Schramm’s (1973) Four Theories of the Press, this study discovered that rather than attempting to categorize a postcommunist country into one of the four theories, a new theory could more appropriately be applied—one that is not as totalitarian as the Authoritarian or SovietCommunist theories, yet also not as moderate or tolerant as the Libertarian or Social Responsibility theories. The “Post-Communist Theory of the Press”—a theory of transition—surfaced as one that could more easily and appropriately be applied in the case of Croatia and perhaps other post-communist countries as well.