While celebrating the World Press Freedom Day – May 3, today, more than ever, the importance of independent and professional journalism has become clear. The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has put the preconditions for a functioning democracy at the top, which is that journalism must be treated as a public good, and the flow of information must not be limited.
Responsible and professional journalism in this particular crisis situation proved to be crucial in terms of informing citizens. Therefore, the Association of Journalists of Macedonia and the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers, call for solidarity and support, especially from the public, for journalists and media workers who in the last two months are facing major health, security, financial, and ethical challenges, in an attempt to properly and timely inform the public about developments related to the pandemic Covid-19.
We remind that the fight against misinformation, which has proved to be particularly harmful in such challenging times, is possible only with the production of objective and accurate information and transparent work of the Government and other relevant public institutions. We emphasize the statement on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis by the Committee of Experts on the media environment and reform of the Council of Europe which outlines the role of professional journalism and independent media, the need for “special attention to the provision of adequate working conditions for the journalists, including medical protection for each task related with the coronavirus.”
According to the report from “Reporters Without Borders” for media freedom, North Macedonia is ranked on 92nd place, which is a small progress, but it is still a disappointing position. That is why we remind of our last year’s demands on the occasion of World Media Freedom Day, which are fundamental reforms of the media sector in the country in order to establish working conditions for journalists and media workers that would create an environment for their work without pressure, blackmails and concerns for their economic and social situation.
We emphasize that the announced reductions in salaries, or reduction of staff in some media is unacceptable, especially when we need quality journalism more than ever and the media have to play their role as guardians of the public interest. Without freedom of expression, independent and critical media, it is not possible to establish a functioning democracy, but also to overcome crises such as the current pandemic.