Zvezdan Georgievski

Trapped in the vicious circle between the daily need to bring bread on the table, societal and political conditions, we see the journalists in a very poor moral and professional condition…

What is the situation with and within the Macedonian media scene? Devastated? Corrupt? Completely unprofessional? Compromising? Unethical? … If we want an answer according to the present standards of the Macedonian journalism, then we would say: None of these and yet a bit of everything. Only in the Macedonian journalism there is no “a bit of everything”, to the contrary, there is “a lot of everything”.

The big majority of journalists will complain about the political and financial pressure. Those who felt the judicial persecution on their own back would talk about the absurdly high penalties for even more absurd deeds - slander, which inevitably results with fear and self-censorship among journalists. In a poorly democratic such as the Macedonian, these side effects became “normal situation”. Finally, even in some democracies with deeper roots, the government, in one way or another makes efforts to invade journalism (Hungary). Some would say it is in the job description of governance.

The journalist guild in Macedonia is still non-resistant and fragile. There are approximately 500- 600 unemployed journalists registered at the Employment Bureau. Almost half of them have lost their job, mostly because of the unregulated and unsettled normative and market conditions. Many of them are suing their former employers. Considering the situation in the Macedonian judiciary and its servility towards the political and business power structures, these lawsuits have weak chances to bring any justice.

All this was not enough to stir some kind of self-organizing of journalists. The Journalists Association is divided for years. The relatively new Independent Syndicate of Journalist is melted with the global picture of the Macedonian decomposed and - we would also say - nonexistent syndicalism. The civil society sector seems incapable of doing anything but scratching on the surface; not going any further than debating about known facts and recognizing the situation.

The consequence is creation of a vicious circle; “ideal” solution for a journalist is getting into political waters or to get a position in a commercial company. Indeed, political parties, big companies and governmental institutions employ spokespersons among journalists to play the role of spin-doctors. Seems that a number of journalists perceive this profession as a temporary one – “until they find something steadier”. So, since journalism is a “temporary job” for many, it’s inappropriate to criticize potential employers in the future.

You don’t have to be Egon Erwin Kisch to realize this is wrong and inexpedient tactics. On the other hand, all this is a consequence from poorly paid journalists, nomadic survival from one to another media, inability to defend from the absurd legal regulations, and finally, the equation between the party and the country. Yet, bread needs to be brought to a table every day.

In such societal conditions, you can find everything, nut an honest, objective, complete, professional journalism. In combination with the ways of the current government, it is easy to draw a conclusion: if there is no information, there is – dictatorship!

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