The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) awarded the prizes on the topic: “Tackling air pollution – strengthening public awareness of problems and possible solutions.”
The first prize was awarded to a team from the Investigative Reporting Laboratory (IRL) for research entitled “Conspiracy Against the Air.”
The second prize was awarded to the journalist Bojan Shashevski from Radio Mof for the multimedia product entitled “Our children are victims of arsenic – the mining site “Lojane” fatal to the inhabitants of Lipkovo villages” and the third prize was awarded to Hristina Gjorgjievska from Vidi Vaka for the research entitled “The Captured City Lungs.”
In addition to the winners, a special award was given to Asdren Cheliku from MRTV for innovative and creative videos with an educational approach that contributes to raising awareness among children about the importance of a healthy environment.
Mladen Chadikovski, President of AJM, HE Christine Forsgren Bengtson – Ambassador of Sweden to the Republic of Macedonia and Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative addressed the awards ceremony.
The President of AJM Chadikovski in his welcoming address said: “We are witnessing an increase in the percentage of pollution, we are aware of the consequences, but it seems that we always need information plus that will keep us awake. That is why the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) in cooperation with UNDP announced this competition in order to help raise awareness of the existing problem and the best ways to solve it. From the public point of view, it is an incentive for journalists to get to the core of the problems that afflict society. Pollution in the country is closely correlated with corruption, in conjunction with the powerful, and we all suffer the consequences. If we, journalists are the voice of the public we work for, then I am sure that in the next period we will have to deal with these topics much more substantially.”
The Ambassador of Sweden, HE Christine Forsgren Bengtson, said: “Today I want to emphasize the support of the project “Tackling Air Pollution in the City of Skopje”. This is implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning and the City of Skopje. With this project, we strive to tackle air pollution and improve cooperation with citizens, businesses and academia to reduce air pollution in the country. The other component of this project is to raise public awareness. That is why we gathered here today, at this awards ceremony. I also want to emphasize that the media have a very important role to play when it comes to raising awareness,” Bangston said.
Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative, stressed that clean air is as vital to life on earth as clean water. “Clean air is one of the basic requirements of human health and well-being. Controlling and reducing air pollution must be a priority for all. I would like to congratulate the winners and all the media that participated in their successful work. This award shows that we highly value the contribution and educational role of the media in promoting topics such as air pollution. Media coverage, the increase in media engagement on the topic of polluted air plays an important role in influencing public opinion and increasing citizens’ expectations regarding the activity for raising awareness about clean air.”
Goran Mihajlovski, the chairperson of the Commission for selection of awards, thanked the registered participants in the competition and said that each of the awards was made by a unanimous decision of the entire commission. He pointed out that the situation in journalism, in smaller newsrooms, is such that hardly anyone pays attention to investigative stories, because of the time race and the battle for money, staff. “Thanks to this competition, we managed to get quality authorial works for which as a commission we unanimously decided that they deserve an award,” said Mihajlovski.
The purpose of the public call for investigative stories is to raise awareness of the existing pollution problem and the best ways to address it. The public call had several criteria according to which the applicants were evaluated, including authentic copyright work in order to raise public awareness on topics related to air quality and air pollution and to be published on a media registered in the country, traditional or online in the period January 2020 to September 2021.
This activity is implemented by the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in partnership with the City of Skopje and the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning (MoEPP), within the project “Tackling air pollution in the city of Skopje “. The project is financially supported by the Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency – SIDA.