The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) and the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) today, on May 3, the International Day of Media Freedom, organized the final event under the motto “Safe journalists and media workers for quality journalism in North Macedonia”.
The purpose of this event is to send a message and raise awareness of the need to improve the security and socio-economic environment for journalists and media workers, as a manner to promote freedom of expression as a basic human right and strengthen the role of media organizations in the policy-making process.
The President of R. N. Macedonia, Mr. Stevo Pendarovski, who also hosted the event, gave the introductory address.
“The safety of journalists is a common obligation of all of us, but, above all, of state institutions and political factors, otherwise, we do not need it only as a political phrase. All state institutions are obliged to provide unhindered access to all information about their work so that journalists can provide quality information to citizens. The security and judicial authorities should act promptly and without selection for cases where the safety of journalists is endangered,” said President Pendarovski.
Reporters without Borders’s new Report noted the jump in media freedom for the country but it does not mean that the battle for quality journalism and freedom is over. The President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, Mladen Chadikovski stressed that when it comes to the safety of journalists and freedom of speech in our country, the relative freedom in which we now live must not deceive us. “Without systemic solutions that will guarantee quality media content and independence of the editorial and journalistic work, we will go around, in a circle all the time. It is time for fundamental changes that will guarantee freedom of work, because the freedom of speech, or thought, is hard to gain, hard to earn, but experience tells us that it can be lost easily. Let us not allow that,” Chadikovski said.
The President of SSNM Belovski, emphasized that the socio-economic situation of journalists, in addition to security, is the most important condition for the development of what we call free journalism. “Journalism without the possibility of influencing editorial policy, and a condition without which journalists and media workers can not get rid of the pressures of various interest groups, and a condition for reducing self-censorship, which according to our analysis and reports of international organizations are widespread in Macedonia,” said Belovski at the panel discussion on “Improving Safety and the Socio-Economic Environment for Journalists and Media Workers: Where Are We and How to Move Forward?”
Katarina Sinadinovska, President of SEMM, Biljana Petkovska, Executive Director of MIM and Dragan Sekulovski, Executive Director of AJM also addressed the working part and the conclusion was that there is a need for systemic solutions that will guarantee long-term protection of the rights and integrity of all media workers. Raising the economic standards of journalists is important as only in that way they will be more resistant to pressure and will be more motivated to produce quality content that serves the public interest. Therefore, it is necessary to support the debate on the creation of a national independent fund, not to support the media, but to support professional journalism and quality media content that will promote the public interest.
Government campaigns paid with citizens’ money pose a risk of further disrupting the fragile media market, negatively affecting media freedom and neglecting the public interest in media coverage, was stated at the panel discussion. An exhibition of photos and video products was organized for the attendees as part of the event. This exhibition is a result of the submitted works of the participants in the call for making photo stories entitled “Make a photo of your voice!” Whose goal is to show through a picture and message what it is like to be a woman and a journalist/media worker in Macedonia and the problems related to the safety and labor rights faced by journalists, editors, women editors-in-chief and women media owners.
The event was realised in the framework of the project “Safer Media Workers for Quality Journalism in North Macedonia” financially supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.