The media and the self-regulation, the threats and lawsuits that the journalists face, the fake news, media literacy, and the financial support for the media are all present in the electoral manifestos of two of the biggest political parties that will be participating in North Macedonia’s parliamentary elections on the 15th of July.
In VMRO-DPMNE’s electoral manifesto titled “Renewal of Macedonia” it is stated that if the party wins the elections, it will initiate “creation of a professional body for media self-regulation, under the banner of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, with the participation of all relevant media organizations.”
“The purpose of this body will be to decrease the need for engagement of other state institutions, like courts or the prosecution, in disputes that arise in the media sphere. This body would include representatives of different journalist associations and media, and through public sessions, it would provide its opinion about complaints lodged by citizens, elected officials, businessmen, etc, against a media outlet that they thinks has violated the ethical rules of informing with the publication of news about the claimant. Journalists who are facing lawsuit, also, can ask this body for opinion”, states this party’s electoral manifesto.
Furthermore, as the manifesto sasy, “the political parties which support a formation of such a body, should call on their representatives to respect its decisions and to abstain from lawsuits against journalists if the agency determines that the journalist has acted ethically and properly in his/her reporting.”
“Apart from litigation cases, this body would also issue stances on reported cases of hate speech, spread of fake news and other violations of generally accepted rules of ethical journalism”, states VMRO-DPMNE’s electoral manifesto.
VMRO-DPMNE announces that “after the new government is formed, we will start a dialogue with the media about all forms of regulatory pressures they have faced with in the past period and we will accept all credible proposals that will help the media to work more freely in the future.”
“Reassesment of the unnecessary regulatory obligations that concern the establishment of new media, program’s editing, the determination of the editorial policy, the ownership structure, the language, the style of expression, and the working conditions. At the same time, we shall fight against the efforts for establishing regulatory obstacles and forms of pressures on new types of electronic media – portals, Internet TV, and social networks, in order to protect the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. Everywhere possible, the existing regulation will be replaced by forms of self-regulation that will be determined by the media community,” the manifesto elaborates.
The fake news and the media literacy are in the focus of the electoral manifesto of the ruling coalition “We Can” led by SDSM, as well.
‘We will create tools for journalists and citizens, for quick discovery and prevention of fake news. We shall be working on media literacym especially among the youngest audiences, though the introduction of appropriate content in education subjects in elementary and secondary schools, starting from the school year 2021/2022 and their regular update in a period between two and four years. During the first year of the new mandate, we shall support the founding of an investigative media laboratory through which, journalism students will take part in the fight against disinformation and fake news. We shall provide stonger protection of the minor-grade audiences from the destructive influence of online media, through adjustment of the national legislation with the new EU directive for audiovisual rules that refer to video-sharing platforms,” states SDSM’s electoral manifesto.
SDSM also announces that if it wins a new mandate from the citizens, it will form a multi-party platform for a systematic fight against fake news that will inspect the work of all government bodies whose action is essential for this fight.
We shall provide continuous financial and non-financial support for the printed media and the local televisions,” states the “We Can” electoral manifesto.
This article was produced within the framework of the project “Media Reform Observatory“, implemented by the Foundation for Internet and the Society “Metamorphosis”, with financial support by the Foundation “Open Society – Macedonia”.
The content is sole responsibility of its authors and in no way whatsoever could be understood as a representation of the views of the Foundation “Open Society – Macedonia”.