October 31, 2019 - "Radio Tivat is a media in which I have learned everything I know about journalism," points out the longterm Radio Tivat journalist, Zeljko Komnenovic, who has recently served as acting director of the public broadcaster Radio Television Herceg Novi.
After more than two and a half decades working at Radio Tivat, Zeljko Komnenovic talks about journalism in general, the challenges of working in the local media, but also the vision and mission he has set for himself, assuming the responsible function of managing a multimedia local public service, within which television was established only two and a half months ago.
TMN: You joined Radio Tivat as a student back in 1997. Now you are leaving after 26 years.
Zeljko Komnenovic: I came to Radio Tivat as a naked kid; I still had a graduate exam until the end of my literature studies in Niksic. I started as an associate, so I was an intern; after that a journalist, then a journalist-editor of the show. After that came numerous collaborations for various media. On the Radio, I created some of my own little empire of interviewees, friends, and topics. It's hard to leave now. But, there comes a moment in life when one tells himself that it is a time to seize the opportunity he is offered and try to do something creative. I'm not someone who is running for functions, lest anyone misunderstand me. In fact, one of my most negative traits is a lack of ambition. But in the offer to take over the management of RTV Herceg Novi, I recognized the professional challenge that is pushing me forward, the collective accepted it nicely. When I arrived, I told them that I was Zeljko Komnenovic, a journalist. I am in the position of director now, but I am and will always be a journalist first and foremost.
TMN: After a long career, you are definitely invited to comment on what it is like to be a journalist in a small environment like Tivat?
Zeljko Komnenovic: It was an interesting moment when I came up with a small cardboard box to pack up the traces of my work in radio after two and a half decades. Going from the desk I was writing at, from where I followed the events, I was chronicling some of the processes our city went through. Years go by, and circumstances change, Tivat changes, it is something completely different now. Boka has always been a place where many civilizations are summed up, but it is fascinating how much Tivat's capacity as a small town is to absorb the energy brought to it by people from outside.
I loved to write, and I loved to criticize. I find that a journalist who does not criticize does not deserve to deal with this business. Otherwise, we're a bulletin board, someone's PR. I never allowed that in my career. The people I criticized know that, because I did it in principle. I never liked and it bothered me terribly and in journalism - I never criticized someone's personality, but solely dealt with someone's act or omission. People recognized and respected it.
Tivat is a really nice place for journalism work as well. Lastly, in addition to the newsroom, we have the most beautiful office in the world, the Pine waterfront. We know exactly who will sit, who we will meet. The Radio Tivat collective was and remains small. We know each other's soul; we know each other's habits. It is a team of well-meaning people who are honest with the profession, however demanding and stressful it may be. I'm glad Tivat has skipped some charts despite all the criticism. Radio Tivat survived and showed that the objective journalism sought was not a dream. Far from achieving something ideal, but we have set criteria that everyone else can use as an example. I'm glad to be a part of that story, and I'll try to get most of it into the collective where I'm currently in a leadership position.
TMN: Two and a half decades of journalism has given you insights into all the challenges this business brings. In addition to radio and news portal, RTV Herceg Novi has established television since mid-August, a demanding and dynamic media in which errors are not allowed. In addition to being at the beginning of your managerial role, television is a new story for employees of RTV Herceg Novi. You have a serious task - to technically establish a new media and win the interest and confidence of the audience.
Zeljko Komnenovic: If I had not been for two and a half decades at a typewriter and a computer, and if I had not been familiar with all the principles of journalism, I certainly would not have dared to accept the leadership of RTV Herceg Novi. In Montenegro, everyone knows to fly an airplane, but I personally would never get into a job that I do not believe I can perform properly. I think that journalists with experience should run the media. I think they do it much more successfully than people who are lawyers or economists. There are capable people regardless of their education profile, but I think the media experience is a prerequisite for you to have a good understanding of all the challenges and nature of the job, which is necessary for you to manage successfully.
On the other hand, RTV Herceg Novi is a public service broadcaster that includes three technically completely different media - the Internet, radio and television. Radio Herceg Novi has a long tradition, and it is one of the first radio stations in Montenegro, founded immediately after Bar and Podgorica. The RTV Herceg Novi portal has been in operation for years, and television officially started operating on August 15 this year. The Council of RTV Herceg Novi accepted my idea that we should try to make something new in the media sky of Boka Kotorska and Montenegro. Herceg Novi Television is now watchable on the Extra TV and M Box platforms, and my current efforts are to make that signal available on other platforms as well. Therefore, even though we are local media, we are also automatically players in the collective media scene. It's a very dangerous game, where you can easily slip and fail. But I think our chance is worth every risk. No one has what we have here, and that is the sea and the beautiful environment we live in. Numerous televisions have better technique, more capable teams, better working conditions, more resources to work with. But, we have something they do not have - we have a unique environment and every shot from here is unique. Nice frames are what attract people. And when you add journalistic professionalism and a little love - these are the spices that will ensure the quality of every story we make.
But this kind of business is not working ad hoc. At the outset, things need to be systematically established, and that is exactly what I am currently dealing with. By sports jargon, we are working on how to move from a municipal to a regional league and a higher ranking of competitions. I will do my best to meet that goal. But our task is first and foremost to respond to the needs of the citizens of Herceg Novi, and then of the citizens of Boka Bay. I hope that at some later stage, we will also cause a viewership in the Montenegrin market. In order to achieve this, we must establish quality. In terms of local topics, I do not doubt that people will watch our program and that they will love to watch it. My goal is to broadcast live programs - sports competitions, sessions of the local parliament, concerts, and various events as often as possible. But first and foremost - I want to monitor and transmit to small screens the life that flows and drains the streets of Herceg Novi and Boka in general. Even if we partially achieve these goals, I believe we have succeeded.
TMN: After just a few days of assuming the function of acting RTV Herceg Novi executive director, you encouraged and achieved great success with the team. For the first time, a session of a local parliament from Boka, specifically a ceremonial session of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi on the occasion of Municipal Day, was broadcast live.
Željko Komnenović: I have to admit that I am very happy and proud that we performed it as a collective and that with very limited resources, because at the moment we do not have the equipment that supports direct transmissions, we were able to provide a direct broadcast of the ceremonial session. People in the industry know that this is not at all simplistic, even though we are in the era of the Internet, optics, live streaming, adequate equipment is needed to ensure quality live broadcasts. We were able to do it 99 percent with the help of pure enthusiasm and my stubbornness. At the end of this direct broadcast, which was done by a small group of enthusiasts, all the editorial staff gathered - joy, excitement worked, the end of the show was marked by great applause. We realized that we had done something big and important, something for the annals - we provided the first direct TV broadcast of a local assembly session in Boka.
Apart from the fact that this venture is very important for the spirit of our team, it is also important because we have shown the citizens that we are serious and that we want to do the work entrusted to us seriously.
We will strive to provide equipment that will support our enthusiasm and ideas. What I imagined was that we, first of all, focus on the so-called live program, to try to bring the Mediterranean, Bokelian, the life of this part of Montenegro to the small screens.