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Angela Cannon, Reference Specialist, European Division
Note: This guide is adapted from an earlier version, which first appeared on the European Reading Room website in 2015.
Created: August 22, 2019
Last Updated: October 27, 2021
When examining the history of newspapers from Kosovo, there are several factors to keep in mind. For example, both major population groups—Serbs and Albanians—have issued newspapers. The Serbian titles are predominantly in the Cyrillic alphabet, in the language now called Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (B/C/S) by Western scholars. In this guide the language is designated as B/C/S, and the alphabet is indicated as "Cyrillic" or "Roman." Other common languages of publication are Albanian and Turkish. In fact, Albanian is now more prevalent in Kosovo than B/C/S. In B/C/S, general or special interest newspapers are called novine or listovi. The term list is sometimes also applied to periodicals, not just to newspapers. In the absence of readily available historical newspaper statistics, this makes it difficult to count newspapers throughout Kosovar history. For the purposes of this guide, we count as newspapers all novine, plus listovi with a frequency of weekly or greater, but most figures in the introduction should be considered estimates. In Albanian, the word for newspaper is gazetë. For this guide we include titles listed in Srpska štampa 1768-1995: Istorijsko-bibliografski pregled by Milica Kisić, and several others, as well as any newspaper titles published within the current borders of Kosovo, in any language.
Newspaper publishing began in Kosovo with the weekly vilajet newspaper Prizren, issued from 1871 through 1874, in B/C/S and Turkish. It was followed by Kosovo, from 1877 through 1888, also in both B/C/S and Turkish, but published in Priština. These titles did not spur more periodical publishing in Kosovo, because another newspaper was not issued until 1915. That one, also entitled Kosovo, but only in B/C/S, lasted for a few issues, and was published in Kosovska Mitrovica. After World War I, more periodicals and newspapers appeared, but the publishing output of Kosovo has never been significant in numbers, possibly due to the small population, the low level of literacy, and the existence of two very different language groups. The first newspaper to appear in Kosovo during the era of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was the very short-lived Kosovski glasnik, in Priština, in 1923. Unfortunately, the Library of Congress does not hold any of these early titles.
Newspaper publishing in Kosovo did not really take place with any regularity until 1945, with the beginning of the B/C/S newspaper Jedinstvo and the Albanian Rilindja. Rilindja was the first newspaper in Albanian to be published in what was then called the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, in the country of Yugoslavia. These two titles are the earliest newspapers from Kosovo in the Library's collections. The communist era, 1945-1991, saw the most significant growth in newspaper publishing in Kosovo, although periodical publishing in Kosovo continued to be lower than in other parts of former Yugoslavia. A survey of the Statistical Yearbook of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (Statistički godišnjak FNRJ) from 1958 to 1989 shows a growth in Kosovo newspapers for most of that period. Thus, in the 1950s, Kosovo averaged over a dozen periodicals per year, of which about half were newspapers. In the 1960s, the average number of periodicals was slightly higher, but the number of newspapers grew to about a dozen per year. In the 1970s and 1980s, growth continued; on average, over 30 and 50 newspapers, respectively, were published in Kosovo. The 1970s also saw the number and circulation of periodicals and newspapers in Albanian overtake titles in B/C/S, a trend that continues today. For example, in 1973, the daily Rilindja had a circulation of 17,500, while the weekly Jedinstvo had 10,000. Some titles were issued in both languages, but, in general, about two-thirds of the periodicals were in Albanian in 1979.
Current statistics on the number of newspapers published in Kosovo are scarce, because the Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Kosovo (Vjetari statistikor i Republikës së Kosovës) does not include publishing statistics. According to the National Library in Priština, there were 15 journals and nine newspapers published in Kosovo in 2010. According to Media Sustainability Index for 2014, there are eight dailies, with Koha ditore having the largest circulation. The Library of Congress holds two of the dailies in Albanian -- Koha ditore and Zëri, as well as one weekly in B/C/S -- Jedinstvo. For statistics on B/C/S titles, the Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Serbia (Statistički godišnjak Republike Srbije) is helpful. The 2014 volume shows that, in 2012, there were 17 B/C/S periodicals published in Kosovo, two of which were newspapers.
The major center of Kosovo newspaper publishing is the capital city Priština, but some titles also have appeared in Kosovska Mitrovica and Prizren. The preeminent collection of Albanian-language newspapers from Kosovo is in the National Library of Albania, in Tiranë. For B/C/S newspapers from Kosovo, the National Library of Serbia in Beograd is also an important repository. It is unclear how complete the newspaper collections are in Kosovo itself, due to possible war damage.
As a general rule, the Library of Congress did not start to systematically collect materials from Slavic and East European countries until World War II and after, and the Kosovo newspaper holdings reflect this collection development policy. The Library holds only a fraction of the newspaper output from Kosovo, just seven titles, including two principal newspapers and two special interest newspapers from the communist era, and several newspapers from the post-communist period. The Library holds no diaspora titles from the United States.