A Mass of Media Journalists Take over Bosnia Town of Tuzla

Article excerpt

It has become a daily routine. A couple of U.S. military men in a lone truck unobtrusively embark on a scouting mission to prepare for the incoming GIs.

Rumbling behind them, a half-dozen jeeps and vans loaded with reporters and photographers weave along the narrow road, kicking up mud and jostling for the best view.

Bosnians stop waving at the soldiers and stare in wonder at the journalists.

Bosnia is being invaded by the media. With NATO troops arriving to enforce the peace, dozens of journalists are already in Tuzla, and dozens more are expected - including U.S. network stars like Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw.

Bosnians are cheering the attention, although some quietly call it ironic after 3 1/2 years of Western dithering over the war. Would NATO have arrived sooner if the U.S. television networks paid this kind of attention before?

"Absolutely. NATO would've been here before if the media had been here," said Deputy Mayor Sead Avdic. "They should've been here; they can influence America."

Tuzla is getting what it wants - good and hard.

Scattered around this gritty mining town of 130,000, where U.S. forces will be based, TV and telephone satellite dishes sprout from balconies of hotels and houses. Rows of white armor-plated Land Rovers - an expensive necessity for sniper-filled Bosnia - line up in front of hotels, military sites and restaurants.

"We have about 30 to 40 journalists here now. There are a lot more rooms booked," said Tuzla Hotel director Zdenko Radasevic.

Members of the media have snatched up space at the only two hotels in town, the Tuzla and the Bristol. The latter even wasn't open until The Associated Press arrived a month ago and needed space.

With the NATO mission scheduled to last a year, many news organizations have rented out houses to save money. …