When people in civilian clothes with their guns drawn were arresting the driver of the van of the Colorful Revolution following the protest under the slogan “Gjorge, you are a disgrace to Macedonia!”, and without explanation held him in the police station for several hours without telling him the reason for his arrest, a citizen journalist took several photos of that event and sent them to CIVIL, a human rights organization leading a project on promoting and strengthening citizen journalism in Macedonia.
The information reached 20.000 people on Facebook alone, and within an hour after the information was published. Hundreds of people were alarmed in the late hours, while some of them appeared in front of the police station as a sign of solidarity with their fellow citizen who from that little van was playing music and sending out messages of freedom, justice and democracy every day.
This event took place just several hours before this was completed. This example is only one of the hundreds of examples of the boldness of citizen journalists, both in our country and all around the world.
Citizen journalists are the last barricade of free media, the last line of resistance against the corporate policy of the corrupted potentates. International standards, advanced laws defending freedom of expression and media freedom, state mechanisms for protection of democracy, commissions and regulatory bodies… All this, in the sad and unsettling example of Macedonia, have shown to be subject to corruption, distortion, manipulation and dictate of a clique. All standards and laws fell crushed by a system that was developed by a clique that has nothing else on its agenda but to gain and maintain power, and to use that power to steal as much as possible more money and more power.
The media and media consumers are pressed in that vice. Many journalists and editors have been playing their infamous, dirty and immoral role for years, leaving behind the dignity of their profession and portraying an image of miserable human beings. Humble servants of their masters, they lie and hate day and night. They say everything their owners cannot, or are not allowed to. They cover up everything commercial sponsors need to cover up. They are prepared to turn every link between politics and business, every dirty deal between usurpers and primitive company owners into a political, economic, business and “deal-oriented” success.
But, this has come to an end. Citizen journalists have given a new pace, a new energy to this time – to this mess. Citizen journalists are revealing things that media choose to hide. They are their warriors on the side of the facts and truth. Citizen journalists do research, they record, take photos, conduct interviews, collect testimonies and evidence on everything that the potentates hide through their media manipulators.
Citizen journalists are the ones who disclose secret communications between party soldiers who trample over human rights and freedoms, they report on arrests of activists and on police brutality, and on the crime of the authorities.
Without professional improvement, without credentials and logistical support that every journalist has (or should have) from the editorial board, without any protection, these brave people have only one goal: to reveal the facts and to tell the truth.
It could cost a newsroom much time and money for it to investigate and publish a story, with the entire risk that in the end it may not contain all the necessary elements for it to be true and in defense of the public interest for the truth to be known about the people, events and processes in society. The gigantic leaps in development and access to new communication technologies, social networks and websites that are inexpensive for registration and easy to design and use, and smart phones, tablets and laptops – have all become new tools for citizen journalists. They are usually in the front line of events or they themselves are participants or victims in events. Assisted by technology, they are quicker than traditional media, which as slaves to commercial standards cannot by far succeed in satisfying the thirst for consistent and objective informing of the public.
Mobbing in the workplace, party pressure on socially deprives persons, manipulations with voting rights, crime and corruption, poverty, police abuse and captivating of institutions, the media and society – are things that rarely which journalist in an undemocratic society can reveal and publish, and even if they were to manage to do so, it could be too late, or they could succumb to the pressure of the structures of power. However, citizen journalists can do this!
Just as democracy is constantly won thanks to human rights activists, so is the truth thanks to citizen journalism. Certainly with the help of technology and the Internet.
This post is also available in: Macedonian