• Journalist, Daily newspaper “Utrinski vesnik” (2002)
• Reporter, National TV station “Sky net” (2003)
• Cooperative associate in the TV magazine “Nie” on Macedonian national television MTV (2004)
• Journalist in the political sector, daily newspaper “Vreme” (2004- 2008)
• Journalist, daily newspaper “Nova Makedonija” (2008-2010)
• Reporter, National A1 Television (2010-2011)
• Reporter in the TV magazine “Euro zoom” (2010-2012)
• Reporter in the weekly political magazine “Focus” (2011-2014)
• Journalist in the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) (2014 – 2018)
• Assistant Editor-In-Chief in Makfax News Agency and A1on web portal (2018-present)
• Cooperative associate and lecturer in the Institute for communication studies (2020-present)
• Annual award, “Journalist of the year” in the newspaper “Vreme” for 2005
• Nomination for the best investigative story by the Association of journalists of Macedonia, 2007
• Expression for gratitude for best investigative story for 2008, Macedonian institute for media
• First award “Jashar Ebara” for accomplishment in the field of investigative journalism in 2014, Association of the journalists in the Republic of Macedonia
• First award “Nikola Mladenov” for best investigative story in 2015 regarding the data-base on Skopje 2014, www.skopje2014.prizma.mk, Macedonian Institute for Media
• Second award of the European Union for investigative journalism in 2015 for the investigation and database, “Skopje 2014 Uncovered”
• Third award for professional reporting on the status of the refugees during the migration movements for 2016 in Macedonia
• Second award “Nikola Mladenov“ for investigative journalism in 2017 for the investigation and database, „Foreign Investments Uncovered“
• Second award „Nikola Mladenov“ for investigative journalism in 2019
Why did you choose journalism as a career?
I wanted to become a journalist when I was seven years old and I knew that I’ll become a journalist, even though back then I didn’t imagine like this the profession. I wanted to write, a had an analytic mind, I loved expressing myself in written and back then I imagined myself writing reportages from all over the world. Instead, I finished in writing about corruption and organized crime, but at least I still write.
And at least I still love this profession because even though there are many obstacles we are facing as journalists, I still believe in unrevealing the truth, the adrenalin this profession brings and in uncovering stories that has high social interest and social impact. Through journalism, I believe in better changes in society.
You worked in many media – Vreme daily, TV A1, Nova Makedonija, Fokus, Makfax news agency, Birn. What are the differences between media in the daily work of a journalist in North Macedonia.
I think the differences depends on who is financing the media. If a media is financed through projects, then one journalist has much more time to investigate, to focus on the issues related to the project and doesn’t rely on the daily news. But, if one media depends only on commercials, then the clicks are much more important so you have to do daily news, cover daily events as quickly as possible, before the others do, you count clicks and you seek for as clickable headlines as possible. Everyone has to find what suits them more, but for me, the clickbait journalism isn’t as satisfying as in-depth and investigative stories that take much more time to cover.
Where are you working today?
I work as an editor and journalist in Metamorphosis Foundation, specifically in Thruthmeter, which mostly deals with fact-checking on contents published in media as well as social networks.
You are active also in the Commission for Complaints in the Council of Media Ethics in North Macedonia. In the reality, do journalists and media companies respect the work of the Council?
The Council of Media Ethics in North Macedonia is a self-regulatory body for the media in our country and it was established with very pure intent for professionalism in the media, without any mixing from the Government or state institutions in it. I think that so far we have accomplished a lot, but there is a long way to go. The citizens, NGOs, journalists, even politicians file complaints on certain contents published in the media, and we decide whether the Codecs of Journalists is being violated. In 2021 we have received 109 complaints and in 48 we have decided that there is a violation in journalism standards. Most of the complaints were made on the web portals (online media).
However, there are many existing problem, because not every online media that violates the Codecs is a member of the Council and not every media is registered in N. Macedonia, so even though we have complaints on certain contents and decide on them, the media doesn’t respect the decision, doesn’t publish it and continues to publish articles that are totally against the Codecs of Journalists. This is why more effort is needed in terms of media literacy in the country, because people can easily “fall” on certain news that are against every possible journalistic standard and has nothing to do with the public interest.
Can you present us a little your investigative journalism work.
I am one of the first authors of data bases in the history of the country, along with a few colleagues. We were the first to introduce data journalism, along with investigative stories. First, about the media ownership in N.Macedonia, by publishing the data base “Media Pedia” which revealed a net of shady businessmen and politicians that hide behind certain mainstream media in the country, and many of them afterwards were accused for money laundering, criminal associations etc. Also, the data base on the most expensive luxury project in the country, on Skopje 2014, revealed all the contracts between the governmental institutions and certain private companies that cost millions and millions of euros. We have revealed how much this project actually costs and some of this costs were later brought to court with suspicions on money laundering. I have also worked on stories on the apartments and costs that the members of the Assembly get from the budget, proving that some of them get apartments from the state but don’t live in them (because they already have their own) and instead they give them to relatives. All of these stories were awarded, whether by the Association of journalists, European Commission or the Macedonian Institute for Media.
You received in the past also threats and threatening messages. Why?
I have received numerous threats, mostly online, during my work. The latest one was in January 2020, when I installed Telegram on my phone, early in the morning and the member of the now oppositional party VMRO-DPMNE and also a spokesperson of the Central Registry of North Macedonia, Emil Jakimovski, started sending me messages. He claimed that I am paid from the Americans to write against the political party, he sent me pictures with handcuffs, claiming I will finish in jail and saying my picture be soon seen in a newspaper where deceased people are being published. I reported this case in the police and revealed it publicly, when I found out that this person made the same threats to many other public people and journalists. But what hurt the most is that I was contacted by his ex wife, who documented that she is struggling for years to provide justice because she was a victim of violence. That’s when I decided to go through with this case, because this woman has suffered for years, being followed, physically assaulted and threatened and the institutions did nothing. When my case went viral, the Prosecution decided to unite my case and hers and Jakimovski was sentenced 20 months in jail. He has served his sentence and now he is free. I think this might be the only case for years someone to be sentenced with jail for threats towards a journalist.
What are the main problems of journalists in North Macedonia?
The conditions they are working under and law salaries. The survey made by the Syndicate of media workers showed that half of the journalists in N. Macedonia are willing to give up journalism and start working something else, because one third of them have salaries which are under the average salary in the country. Some of them have salaries less than 300 euros, and they also have to work during weekends and far past their worktime. Also, the pressures they are facing are high, many of them have short-term contracts, their job positions are not stable and they have a lack of motive in the profession. And when there is lack of motive, there can’t be a quality journalism.
Finally, do you believe that North Macedonia will be once EU member?
I was on optimist once, but with the latest events with Bulgaria, I honestly have a lack of optimism. The question on EU-membership has become like a never ending story, so I think that what’s most important now is North Macedonia to work and resolve the main issues in the country that truly concern the citizens, because we really have a long way to go to call ourselves a “democratic country free of corruption and crime”. Once we establish a reliable court system, once we have non political institutions, once we have people employed in state institutions according to competencies and not political determination, once we have salaries and pensions according to the standards, everything else will be much easier. That is why people are not even dealing with the question on EU now, as much as they did, because there are many, many other problems they have to face with in the meantime.