‘Infotainment’ originated in America. It skillfully combines informative content in an entertaining format. And its success depends on the skill and popularity of the host who presents it. Such formats, and their hosts, are extremely popular in our region as well; as evidenced by the thunderous applause which greeted each of the participants on this panel as they arrived on stage. Zoran Šprajc (RTL Croatia), Zoran Kesić (Nova S), and Maja Žeželj (N1)—in their recognizable styles—discussed their experiences and leadership skills as well as the marketing potential of television, under the moderation of Ivan Stanković (Communis).
They also discussed the importance of expressing one’s own position and beliefs, which is what Zoran Šprajc is especially known for in Croatia: “Let’s immediately dispel the myth that it is unwise to have one’s own opinion. It pays to have an attitude. That’s the part of the game where I have done well. It really is worth it, otherwise I wouldn’t be there.”
Zoran Kesić also spoke about the position of journalists in his country: “It is not a problem for us to express our opinions in a weekly show. There is plenty of ‘material’ in Serbia for that. The best shows are the ones where I’m irritated, when things strike a chord with me. It’s actually a blessing to have a space where you can have your say; where every sentence and every show reflects your personal opinion. This is our truth and it’s our greatest strength. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues have given up their freedom and truth to become propagandists. It is no longer the rule that the truth is always told in journalism, it has actually become a problem.”
Šprajc commented on the differences that prevail between television reporting in the countries of the region: “Every television station—and also the country and specific circumstances—tries to influence or even ‘edit’ journalistic content. So I took the freedom I thought I could have. You must seize the opportunity if you can have better working conditions on another TV station. I work the way I think is best. In our country, the government does not influence the news as much as it does in Serbia. The financial landscape is also different.”
Šprajc thinks that it’s important for every news presenter to speak well and have a sympathetic character; while Maja Žeželj emphasized that the most important characteristics are trustworthiness and ease of execution.
“I deliberately chose this job. The most important thing for me is the viewer on the other side of the screen—they are always on my mind. It is important for me to involve that person in the story and to think about life, the information I am conveying life, and why things are the way they are,” said Maja Žeželj. “I want to tell people what’s going on. I really want to wake people up in a good way. We on N1 occasionally manage to accomplish this goal. To a person sitting and watching N1, it isn’t necessarily politics that’s the most important thing, but rather the unpleasant side of life. The news just serves to disrupt reality. If we say we have no bad news, then we simply have no news. The only way you can wake people up is to tell them something painful.”