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Macedonian citizen’s initiative for boycott of companies which advertise themselves in partial and corrupted media

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The imbalanced and unethical reporting by some Macedonian media, or more precisely, the most watched and the ones closest to the government, provoked some of the citizens to act against them by using their ‘citizen power’. “I’m buying ethically” is the name of an initiative that showed up these days on social networks. It was created by a group of people who are calling on all citizens to  boycott companies that advertise themselves in media that distribute news which are not objective but rather partial, corrupted and unprofessional.

“In a lack of political will for effective reforms in the media that would provide balanced and objective information to the audience we, the citizens take this initiative to try and pressure the companies which advertise themselves in certain corrupted TV channels. Lowering the effectiveness of the marketing of their products and creating an absolute contra-effect should prevent companies from further advertisement on TV channels which act unethically and report partially”, is written by the initiators of this action.

“Corroded media reporting which imperils political pluralism in the election and pre-election process”, shows MODEM (Monitoring of democracy in Macedonia). MODEM acts like a tool of the Institute for communication studies which focuses on the observation of media plots and creates analysis which serve the citizens, the civil sector, media organizations, decision makers and also the international community in creating supported opinions and arguments for the initiating of politics.

Concentration of media ownership and strong political influences towards the editorial politics

The analyses show that the concentration of media ownership in the hands of just a few has a direct influence towards the editorial politics. More precisely, instead of serving the citizens and acting as a guardian of the public interest, most media in Macedonia serve as tool for fulfilling certain business and political aims. Recently promoted document “Media in Macedonia: guardians of the public interest or hostage of political interests” by the authors Vesna Shopar and Petrit Saracini, shows that media ambience in Macedonia is characterized by the appearance of “orchestrated media”. That means that redactions and media in Macedonia collaborate with only one centre of power and are indebted to serve as part of the orchestra, which means sharing and broadcasting the same information; at the same time brutally breaking all the rules and principles of objective and independent journalism. Actually, analysis confirm that these media “are the ones which most often either ignore or do not mention at all certain information and events that confront their interests irrespectively, if it is about top-event or popular movement in the country. What also happens is that these media choose how to present certain events and happenings which means presenting them from a wrong perspective which suits the interests of the owner or the editorial politics. Also, instead of providing people with information which would improve their everyday personal, family and social lives, media create and broadcast plots that are completely unimportant for the public interest”.

Shopar’s and Saracini’s document reveals important conclusions about the politics of most Macedonian media and in the same time they highlight the importance of citizen initiative which, through the boycott of companies, would mean a resistance to the way of these media informing.

As a weapon for imposing its own agenda, beside cheap entertainment, media are used for sensational news, frightening the audience with different possible dangers and other tricks. And all this has one aim only, that is, defocusing of the audiences’ attention from popular and important issues which concern the whole society. Instead of information, general analysis and debate, the audience is served with disinformation, partial and subjective opinions, public offences and discrediting of those who are considered as harmful for media interests or for the media’s business and political ‘patron’, say Shopar and Saricani.

European Commission criticizes political influence on the editorial policies of the biggest media in Macedonia

Also the Report from the European Commission for the improvement of Macedonia towards European Union shows how alarming the situation is of media broadcasting in the country. In the Report it’s ascertained that “The biggest TV channels Sitel, Canal 5, Alpha and MRT support the government, hence, their reporting is selective when it comes to the activities of the opposition and of non-government organizations.”

Other indicators which measure the “reality” or more precisely, indicators which determine the level of responsibility of media actors were recently presented by the Association for research, communication and development “Public”, through the Index of clientelism in media which is part of the regional project “Media circle”.  Results from the research show that Macedonia stands on the bottom when it comes to documents about transparency in the financing of public media and transparency of media ownership.

The power of awakened citizen consciousness

Hence, nobody is surprised by the “I’m buying ethically” initiative, which in only two days sparked controversy in the audience and made them question media ethics; at the same time, it made the audience aware of citizen’s power in the creation of democratic society.  As a matter of fact, the boycott of companies which have acted unethically has a rich history in the world.

For example, the boycott of “Nestle” is the world’s longest running. It began in 1977 in response to the aggressive marketing of Nestle baby milk formula in poorer countries. “Nestle” is now one of the most boycotted brands in the UK and not only because of the baby milk, but also because of child slavery in the cacao plantations; the company’s attitude toward organized labour, especially in the developing world; the use of palm oil in Nestle products which causes rainforest clear-cutting and habitat destruction of animals; and because of water exploitation, especially in places where it is scarce.

According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Caterpillar’s D-9 bulldozers have been responsible for destroying “agricultural farms, greenhouses, ancient olive groves, numerous Palestinian homes and sometimes human lives”. The boycott of “Caterpillar” is organized by “War on Want”. There are many examples of successful boycotts throughout history and citizens’ reactions to them.

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