Defocusing and “Burying News”: You do the press conference, and I’ll get you on prime time


As election day approaches, the battle for media appearances has escalated, with it, comes the start of the theft of prime-time media slots and press conference coverage.

What follows are just three examples:

November 3, 2016

1. Oliver Spasovski announces a press-conference concerning Dime Spasov’s car accident
2. Dime Spasov gives an interview on television, just before the Interior Minister’s press conference, at an ‘unseemly’ time, and only one television station gets their hands on the “exclusive” footage of the event.
3. Saso Mijalkov arrives for questioning at the Criminal Court

October 20, 2016

1. Katica Janeva is a guest on Telma’s TV show “Tom-Tema” at 19:15pm.
2. While she is being interviewed, one of her investigators was detained, and another was removed from the UBK premises.
3. Oliver Spasovski is also giving an interview on the television show “360 degrees” on “Alsat-M”, and around midnight, he holds a press conference

October 21, 2016

1. The SPO announces a press conference, which was later discovered to be related to new cases, “Tenders” and “Tolpik”.
2. Oliver Andonov schedules a press conference at the same time as the SPO’s press conference for the “Vault” case.
3. The SPO re-schedule their press conference, however Andonov re-schedules his as well.





















The question here is, whether this was all a mere media coincidence, or was it a spin-strategy for stealing the spotlight for the news, prime time and press conferences, especially after the additional Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Dime Spasov imposed his interview on “Nova” TV. This all happened on the same day when the former Director of the Administration of Security and Counterintelligence (UBK), Saso Mijalkov was summoned to court for the “Vault” case, and at the same time Dime Spasov gave an exclusive interview on TV, where he supported government policies, and explained how someone from the criminal-police underworld set him up. It is conveniently sweet that just one hour after Spasov’s interview, a press conference was held concerning his case, by the Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski (15:00) who had an entire different version of events of that of Minister Spasov.

However, since the date for elections was scheduled for December 11, this way of communication between parties and the media has been a battle for media exclusivity.

The same was when Deputy Minister of Interior, Oliver Andonov had the intention of holding a counter-interview to compete with the Special Public Prosecution. On October 20, at 11:00am, when Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva had scheduled a press-conference about a new investigation the SPO were looking into, Oliver Andonov announced he too would be addressing the public.

Unlike Andonov’s press conference, which was scheduled in the late evening through his facebook profile, just a few hours before it was meant to start, the date for the SPO’s press-conference had been known for two days.

Later, Janeva re-scheduled her press-conference to 12:00pm, and news crews who were waiting at the MOI for Andonov at 11:00am were told by the additional Deputy Minister that Andonov had gone to Tetovo for business and that he would be giving his statement there at 12:00pm. However, he ended up giving his statement at 15:00pm.

The same day, another event was attracting enormous attention, and that was the press-conference of the Minister of Culture, Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska, which was held at 14:30pm. She was summoned to the SPO after the press-conference where a new investigation emerged where Kanceska-Milevska was one of the suspects.

The next day, October 21, while Janeva was a guest on “Tom-Tema” on “Telma” television, she announced to the public that she would be returning to the secret police headquarters, UBK (where her team were awaiting documents) because an investigator from the SPO had been removed from the premises.

Janeva explained that even though prosecutors had left UBK premises, investigators had stayed behind to observe the situation until the arrival of the expert, whose job it was to extract the records from 2008-2015, which would be extremely useful in the investigation in terms of finding out who and why conducted the mass wiretapping.

The same evening, another press-conference was held at “Alsat-M” TV, this time by Oliver Spasovski. After appearing as a guest on their show, just before midnight, the minister held a press-conference.

Analyst and expert on public relations strategies, Petar Arsovski, says this is a well known strategy used across the world called “burying the news”.

“It is well-known that there is a strategy, when someone wants to “bury” an important piece of news, they bury it with dozens of other stories. I think in the case of Dime Spasov, it is not about this exact strategy, he just wants to bury his own story. That does not mean that such a strategy isn’t at work in other news here”, says Arsovski.

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