Economic difficulties and political pressure are the main challenges faced by the media in the Republic of Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, according to experts who have recently analysed the situation for a webpage specialised in monitoring media developments in the country, www.macedoniapressfreedom.org , run by the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute, and partners.
“The inflammatory language of the top government officials against journalists, the lack of tolerance towards criticism, the use of government advertisement in public and pro-government media ( Macedonia is indisputable champion in this aspect), the record number of trials against journalists, are all worrisome,” wrote Remzi Lani, Executive Director of the Albanian Media Institute.
According to Saso Ordanoski, Director for Media and Public Affairs of the VEVE Group, “The government has pushed the agenda and moved the issues from the problem of freedom of speech into a problem of freedom after speech…It means that problems are not only an issue of (wrong) media policy, but also of very serious structural deficiencies: how the market and industry function, and the transparency of the Government’s media policy.”
Dejan Donev, assistant professor at the Institute for Journalism, Media and Communications in Skopje, focuses on how the “precarious economic situation rendered journalists vulnerable to economic offers and corrupt practices.”
Tamara Causidis, president of the Independent Trade Union of Journalist and Media Workers, explains the economic woes: “In a situation of high unemployment in the country, the number of journalists on the labour market is much higher than what is needed. The media owners are using this situation to decrease the journalist’s labour price, to misuse the journalists and set unfair employment/working conditions. Many colleagues in the media are working illegally, without paid vacation days, overtime hours, sick leave and insurance… Very often Macedonian journalists report about abuses of workers’ rights in other areas of the society, while they cannot achieve the same rights for themselves.”
However, there are some positive developments. Dragan Sekulovski, Project Coordinator at the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), wrote about the organisation’s Action Plan: “This is an open document for further suggestions. Basically, it is a 17-page document where… representatives from the media community identified three main chapters where changes must take place. These chapters are: legislation, quality of journalism and ethical and professional standards.”
Full texts written by these and other experts, in addition to the latest news updates on media developments, SEEMO mission report and other useful links, have been recently included in the SEEMO-run webpage on media developments in the Republic of Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: www.macedoniapressfreedom.org