The research focused on mainstream journalism’s reporting of the past and used the Republic of Croatia as an example of a country with contested history in whose context the research can take place. While there have been several studies done on commemorative journalism, the interplay of political ideology and commemorative journalism remained widely unexplored. Therefore, the aim of the research was to understand the role that political ideology plays in commemorative journalism, and how that role affects the way in which a certain disputed historic event is reported in the mainstream media. In order to understand this complex relation, the research focused on journalistic reporting of the Fall of Vukovar, the most tragic event that occurred during the contested nineties in Croatia. The analysis was conducted on the two Croatian daily newspapers Jutarnji list and Večernji list in a period between 2011 and 2021. The selected time range from 2011 to 2021 presented a reliable frame for exploring the role of political ideology in commemorative journalism in the context of the Republic of Croatia. Namely, during the 11 years, both parliamentarian and presidential political situations changed, seeing a transition from a coalition gathered around the biggest Croatian left-wing political party to a coalition formed around the biggest Croatian right-wing political party. Similar changes took place as well within a presidential political environment. The study took a qualitative approach and used content analysis as a data collection method that resulted in 60 newspaper articles (30 from each newspaper outlet) on the topic of Fall of Vukovar that were then subjected to a thematic analysis. Thematic analysis of the selected feature stories and opinion pieces revealed four thematic categories, “Reviving memories”, “Point of division”, “Arena for politicization”, “Symbol of dignity, respect, and pride”, that were reoccurring across the data set and the dominant themes belonging to them. The research showed that the Fall of Vukovar, in spite of more than 30 years that have passed since, remains to be a comprehensively represented topic in the two Croatian daily newspapers analyzed. Focusing mainly on keeping memories alive, through the retelling of stories from 1991 and revoking past emotions, the analyzed units showed that the Fall of Vukovar continues to be a delicate topic prone to divisions, political manipulations, but also eliciting feelings of dignity, pride, and respect for the sufferings that it underwent through. The research also showed that the Fall of Vukovar remains to be a sensitive topic bearing various political connotations. Even when not implicitly revealed, political ideology manages to be transposed through purposeful omission of certain content and placing focus on another one that serves in its promoting.

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Dr. Olivier Nyirubugara
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Anja Nežić. (2022, June 27). Reporting the past: representation of the Fall of Vukovar in Croatian daily newspapers. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from