Journalism torn between professional principles and particular interests
Media business and journalism, and the role of state institutions in protecting media integrity in Macedonia and the region were the main topics of the forum "Media integrity and funding - regional experiences and domestic perspectives", organized by the Macedonian Institute for Media within the project Southeast European Media Observatory" and held 24 November 2016. Media experts from the country and the region delivered speeches in the presence of media owners, editors, and representatives of media organizations, journalists' associations, as well as domestic and international institutions.
In the first part of the forum titled “Who will pay for journalism”, Mladen Cadikovski, editor in chief of TV24 News (TV24 Vesti), emphasized that the neglect of professional journalistic standards is mostly a result of state funds that pour into the media, which contribute to the corruption of media owners, editors and journalists. According to Goran Mihajlovski, owner and editor in chief of the web platform „I want to say” (Sakam da kazam), if journalists are not offered good wages and good working conditions then independent journalism cannot be expected. Mevaip Abdiu, owner of TV Koha Tetovo, said that the share of national broadcasters in the total profit of the television industry is constantly increasing, while local and regional media remain on the margin, burdened with serious financial problems.
Milan Zivkovic, a former advisor on media policy within the Ministry of Culture of Croatia, shared his experiences on alternative measures to support the media and journalists. In addition, he referred to some of the instruments of state support to media in Croatia, such as: decreasing VAT, establishing a fund for media pluralism and government support to non-profit media outlets.
Snezana Trpevska from the Institute of Communication Studies in Macedonia, Miroslava Milenovic, member of the Anti-corruption Council of Serbia, and Zoran Trajcevski, Director of the Agency for audio and audiovisual media services in Macedonia (AAVMS) highlighted the role of state institutions in the protection of media integrity. According to Trpevska, current media policy does not provide conditions for the existence of diverse, independent and autonomous media. She said that media ownership pluralism is observed only on the formal level, while in practice hidden ownership is often connected to the governing structures. The representative of the Anti-corruption Council of Serbia said that it is impossible to successfully combat corruption, without independent media as watchdogs over the government actions. She emphasized that their reports confirm the link between public money and the editorial policy of the media in Serbia. The director of AAVMS addressed the media legislation in Macedonia and the responsibilities of the Agency in ensuring media integrity.