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SU-PRO-MEDIA | 29.06.2018 14:10 > 29.06 14:34

TV Stations Trusted the Most

In the era of fake news and misinformation the public’s trust in news media in Macedonia is dropping. A report by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) published in February 2018 says that more than one-half (52 percent) of Macedonian citizens do not believe what they learn from them. What has caused such a state of affairs?

“The main reason is the disappearance of boundaries between the traditional media and new journalistic forms. The so-called citizen journalism is on the rise and the number of blogs through which the people themselves distribute information is way up. There is also an increasing number of mini portals which do not employ professional journalists, where anything can be published, or where unconfirmed information from other sources is simply redistributed. All this has resulted in a widespread distrust of the media, says Telma TV Director and Editor in Chief Atanas Kirovski.

According to communicologist Petar Arsovski, the reason is “tabloidization and manipulation of news media and the creation of scandals on the part of political elites.”

The other reason why the trust in the media is on a downward slope is a decade-long rule of the nationalist and rightist VMRO DPMNE party. For years the group led by prime minister of the time Nikola Gruevski was in control of almost all Macedonian outlets. It was a common practice to instruct the media on what to report, and even in what order the reports should be released by the most widely watched national TV stations.

“For 11 years we had a political establishment that wanted to control the media and the information they distributed at any cost. It even happened that reports on several TV stations were literally identical, word for word,” Kirovski says.

“I is realistic to say that the authorities have been trying and succeeding for years to have Macedonia’s mainstream media under full control. We do not know their exact number, but it may well be said that over 80 percent of them were in the hands of a single political party. All this has led to a drop in professionalism in the media industry,” says Vasko Popetreski, editor of the 360 Degrees show on Alsat M TV station.

As the mentioned EBU report contains indications that the trend is slowly reversing, it may be taken as the first signal that the position of media in Macedonia is changing for the better. Quality journalism is now being appreciated more than ever before and this is a moment the traditional media can take advantage of to renew the public’s trust, the report says.

Macedonian citizens prefer TV stations to all other media, meaning that these broadcasters are the ones which influence public opinions the most. It is believed that TV stations are less subject to manipulation than other media, because pictures and reports from the spot are more objective.
Popetrevski points out the key role television played in the 2015-2017 period, during a long political crisis in the country that ended in the change of government. “If the TV stations that were not under the full government control had not acted professionally and had not succeeded in playing the major role in informing the public, there would have been no changes in society,” Popetrevski adds.

Atanas Kirovski says that compared to what is published on various internet platforms, reports broadcast by TV stations are far more serious and credible.

“The Internet is contaminated with fake, trivial, sensationalist information, while that which is released by TV stations is better prepared and responsible. Having this in view, it is only natural that the public’s trust in TV stations is on the rise,” Kirovski stresses.

The trust in news media is directly linked to their freedom, i.e., as the EBU report put it, the relation is directly proportional: the greater the freedom of the media, the greater the public’s trust in them. On the international indices on media freedoms Macedonia is slowly gaining a better place, but it should be kept in mind that the road leading from the “partly free” to the “fully free” media is very long and full of challenges.

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