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CMEM decides upon Metamorphosis’s appeals: Lider, Kurir and Netpres have breached articles of the Journalist Code of Ethics

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The Appeals Commission – CMEM – of the Council of Media Ethics of North Macedonia, on the 24th of December 2020, reached a decission on the appeals from the Foundation for Internet and Society “Metamorphosis” for an article published on the news sites Lider.mk, Kurir.mk and Netpress.com.mk, which by doing so, have breached several articles of the Journalist Code of Ethics.

The appeals, among other issues, state that the published article contains libel, unfavorable and incorrect information, represents malicious reporting, contains hate speech, is not giving the statement of the other side. They stated that the article also contained calls for lynching, but also that part of the people whose photographs were published together with their names and surnames are no longer employees of the foundation.

According to the ruling of CMEM, “Lider”, with the article titled “(Photo) These are the people who delete content from Facebook in Macedonia!“ published on 12th of May 2020, has violated the Journalist Code, i.e.the articles 1 and 3.

“The appellant rejects the allegations in the text in “Lider”, that employees of the Foundation deleted content from the Facebook social network, as totally false. Those claims are disinformation and can be described as libel. The fact-checking program that is being used in the organization does not include an option of removing or deleting content from the Facebook social network. It considers the publishing of a collage with the photos of part of the employees, as well as quoting the names and surnames of almost all of the employees, as an extremely malicious non-journalistic behavior, which is calling for a public lynch, and the publication of the untruthful claims brings irreparable damage of the reputation of “Metamorphosis,” and all of the employees”, says CMEM’s Commission.

CMEM adds that “Metamorphosis” sent a refutation to “Lider” for the disputed texh, but the refutation hasn’t been published by the news site.

Regarding the publication of the same text in the “Kurir” news site, СМEМ finds out that that it has broken the article 1 of the Code, and that, according to the appellant, even though the disputed content hasn’t been published in full, there was a link to the original publication, leading to another site, and therefore it is malicious non-journalistic behavior, which has the elements of a call for a public lynching.

The Commission informed it has contacted “Kurir” and has requested from it to answer the allegations in the appeal. The media did not answer the allegations in the appeal and the Commission identified that it has broken the Code, Article 1, according to which:

The journalist is entitled to free access to all of the sources of the information that are in the public interest. The journalist has to publish correct and verified information and will not be hiding essential information and falsifying documents. If the information cannot be verified, or if it is a conjecture, or speculation, it has to be duly noted and referred to as such. The accuracy of the information should be checked to all possible extent.

“The decision of “Kurir” to refer to another media and to publish only a part of the article, does not exempt it from responsibility. Even more, because it published a link to the original and integral content, with which it made the information easily accessible by anyone,“ says the ruling of the Commission. In addition, the Commission identified that “Kurir” has obeyed the obligation in the Code and published in full the refutation sent by “Metamorphosis”, which has shown a sense of moral responsibility and protection of the integrity”, CMEM points out.

In addition, by republishing “Lider”‘s text, the “Netpress” news site also broke the Code, specifically the Article 1. According to the CMEM, “Netpress”, similarly to “Kurir” published a link to the original content, leading to another site.

“The Commission contacted “Netpress” and asked it to answer the allegations in the appeal. The media did not answer the allegations, but later the Commission saw that “Netpress” complied with its obligation and integrally published the refutation sent by “Metamorphosis’, with which the media has shown a sense of moral responsibility and protected its own integrity and the integrity of the journalist,” CMEM informs.

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