Journalists from the eastern region of the country, on Saturday, April 8, held a second consultative meeting on the topic: “Challenges faced by journalists outside of Skopje when reporting on topics in the field of justice”, which was attended by the President of the Basic Court in Shtip, Judge Gjorgi Andonov, who is also a member of the Judicial – Media Council.
During the meeting, journalists emphasized the need for greater transparency on the part of the courts, as well as the prosecutor’s office. It was said once again that the work of journalists is dynamic, they need information on a daily basis, because any delay means a loss of currentness and relevance of the information. The problem with the court in Kočani was particularly highlighted, where it is difficult to get information, although there is a person on the website of the court – a spokesperson responsible for contact with the public. It is of great importance that they receive statements from the judges or the spokesmen of the specific institutions, because this way free interpretation of judgments and decisions will be avoided. It was suggested that bulletins be issued at a certain period of time in which there will be information about the trials of cases that are of public interest.
In his address regarding the specific topics and proposals, Judge Andonov reminded that in such and similar situations, the presumption of innocence should always be respected and bombastic headlines should be avoided in the fight for clicks. He presented the work and activities of the Judicial Media Council to the participants, emphasizing that it is important for the judiciary and judges to have good cooperation with journalists. Toj evaluated as extremely useful the Guidelines for ethical and professional information on topics from the judiciary, issued by AJM, and announced that the Judicial Media Council also intends to prepare a kind of manual for a list of terms from the judiciary, which will be used by them.
The Judicial Media Council is also preparing trainings for the cooperation of judges and journalists, and it was suggested that some of those trainings be organized at the level of the Eastern region.
The conclusions of the meeting were in the direction of the preparation of information by journalists in the region about the situation, the remarks about the problems they face when reporting on topics from the judiciary and cooperation with the courts, that information should be submitted to the Judicial Media Council so that they know the directions for improving the situation, an even greater increase in the cooperation between the courts and the National Criminal Court, in terms of help in identifying the relevant media, possible accreditation of journalists who will report on the work of the courts, the inclusion of journalists from the region in the trainings that will be carried out by the Judicial the media council, preparation of a list of terms from the judiciary that will be available to journalists.
The meeting was assessed as useful and a good start to better cooperation between journalists and the judiciary in the direction of professional and ethical information on topics from the judiciary.
The event is part of the regional project “Strengthening media freedom in North Macedonia” funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and implemented by the Dutch Helsinki Committee and Free Press Unlimited in partnership with the Association of Journalists of Macedonia. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are entirely those of the author(s). They do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, nor of the organizations implementing the project or their local partner.