In a country where the government is major advertiser, particularly if the government in question is something like ours, one can hardly expect that a medium can survive solely on its quality. Just one look at the advertisements in the main media is enough to realize they are a far cry from professional and objective news outlets.
Macedonian media space is continuously being filtered, but unfortunately not from the junk and bad quality, but on the contrary - from quality and professionalism.
Today, Libertas.mk broke the news that one of the media with unusual quality and professionalism for our circumstances, the weekly newspaper "Gragjanski", publishes its last edition tonight.
It is not difficult to imagine that a weekly newspaper with such a low price (20 denars) can hardly survive on the Macedonian media market only from selling, and its existence can only be preserved if the budget is supplemented by advertisements.
This has been said before, but we take this opportunity to say it again: In a country where the government is major advertiser, particularly if the government in question is something like ours, one can hardly expect that a medium can solely survive based on its quality (in passing, even if there were media of that kind, the government would surely find a way to "handle them". We all know what happened with A1, A2, newspapers Shpic, Vreme, Koha ...!) Just one look at the advertisements in most of them is enough to realize they are a far cry from professional and objective news outlets, and irrespective of their print run (or audience ratings for televisions), they continue to "live off the fat of the land".
There is more to that problem than meets the eye. Not only that the Government shuns publishing of its advertisements in unfavourable media, which in this particular case means media with objective reporting and media that does not magnify their governmental projects; but advertisements are also not published in news outlets that, according to their nature, fail to assist the Government in the realization of its main objective: brainwashing and constant propagation among the public that VMRO-DPMNE and especially its leader, the Prime Minister Nikola Gruuevski are the best thing that has ever happened to Macedonia. And problems do not just stop there, but the Government, that is also the greatest employer in the country, gives "hints" in many ways to the best part of other potential advertiser (the few companies that can afford that) where to advertise. We are all well aware that there are means and ways to keep these companies under thumb, and it is obvious that this Government has learned very well how to use those means (one of the magic words is "tenders").
Another recent rumor is that one of the daily newspapers (of course, not one of the "grouping", they know which side to take!) faces financial troubles and there is a good chance for this paper to wind up. The reason is the same one we already elaborated - lack of advertisements and failure to live from selling solely. Naturally, this newspaper does not magnify the Government's "daily successes". One can easily notice what is a national television turning into, one that was until recently known as more inclined to the opposition, after being taken over by a new owner, as you may have guessed, "close to the governing party".
Having all that in mind, I don't suppose that someone can be surprised from the fact that Macedonia's rank at the 116 place in terms of media freedom in the world will next year be considered as a good position. Only, I cannot help but wonder how the Macedonian public will get its hands on the information about the level of media freedom at the next ranking.
Legend: The cover of last number of "Gragjanski"