On the eve of the announced measures to restrict the movement of citizens between 21 and 06 o’clock, the Government of NMK tonight published guidelines on how to issue permits for field work to journalists and media workers. We believe it is important that in times of crisis, institutions should find a way for journalists and media workers to be present in the field, in order to inform the public whether the measures in force are being respected and to report on matters of public interest in general.
According to the published guidelines, licenses will be issued to all traditional media registered at the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, and for the online media only to those who are part of the Register of Professional Online Media published on the platform www.promedia.mk.
In this context, we point out that membership in the Register of Professional Online Media is voluntary and serves to promote and affirm media that respect professional standards and membership criteria, to assist citizens in choosing the online media for their information and for the business community in placing their ads. The purpose of the Register is to monitor the respecting of journalistic standards, to encourage professionalism and alarm about certain violations, but cannot serve to limit the day-to-day running of journalistic tasks.
Therefore, we consider that the restriction under which the media which are not part of this Registry cannot obtain a movement permit to perform duties in a curfew is not justified and we ask the Government to reconsider this step.
At the same time, all online media need to be aware of the weight of the written word at such times and realize that the responsibility of eventual unprofessional reporting rests with them, but the citizens will suffer the consequences. That is why we once again call for professionalism and diligence in communicating crisis-related information.
AJM and CMEM remain open to cooperation with all public institutions that make efforts to overcome the crisis related to coronavirus, in order to create measures that will protect the health of the citizens, but also to guarantee freedom of expression and the right of the citizens to be informed.