Mr. Mitrev, I carefully read the letter you addressed to me and I wanted to answer you personally, but considering that your letter has been distributed to the public, I feel a duty to answer you publicly.
The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (АЈМ) is the oldest civil organization in the country whose main role is to protect journalists from censorship and promote professional standards in work. That is why we publicly react when journalists and media workers are attacked, labeled, belittled, sued, or accused, whether it is individuals or orchestrated and organized attacks from a center of power.
You were at the center of an investigative journalistic story of unquestionable public interest, produced by IRL, and broadcast on MTV, and rightly so, the subject proved to be very significant to the public. The story, a few months after publication, resulted in the initiation of charges by the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office, which of course does not take away your right to further communication with the public. You had that right for the entire time and before the prosecution was initiated. You also had the opportunity to address the self-regulatory bodies in АЈМ or the Council for Ethics in the Media, where you could refer some of your allegations addressed to me to those whose job it is, the Court of Honor in АЈМ, or the commission for appeals in SEMM. But instead, you filed a defamation suit against IRL journalists, along with an unprecedented request to temporarily not report on these issues (censorship), which was denied by the court. Then, a few days before the charges against you were brought by the OJO, you decided to withdraw the lawsuit against the journalists from the IRL.
I need to clarify that the Court of Honor at АЈМ, as well as the Ethics Council as a special organization that takes care of promoting journalistic ethics, have the task of passing an appropriate judgment, for colleagues or media from the community, for which a citizen, politician, businessman, doctor, journalist, believe that he violated the standards in his work. In a situation where we have an efficient system of media self-regulation, whose bodies are members of journalists and professionals, it would be unfair to expect politicians or various powerful people to judge journalistic products. And in cases where journalists have complaints about other journalists, the only regulatory bodies that can give an assessment, to avoid a subjective judgment, mine, yours, are only these regulatory bodies.
The idea of self-regulation in the media is to avoid or reduce what often happens to us in public and on social media. When certain powerful people start making baseless speculations in public, for the media or journalists, an atmosphere of lynching and accusations is created. In the past period, we have witnessed a series of labeling on social networks against IRL colleagues, which were blanket, intimidating, and slanderous, in many aspects.
We believe that any attempt to intimidate free journalism in the media does not benefit anyone, least of all the journalists and the citizens, for whom we work and whom we serve.
President of АЈМ