Here I am, my respected readers, once again in a daily newspaper, as well as on the Internet. I hope the pleasure of spending time together will be mutual. Common courtesy requires me to start with us, not high politics. Let’s go through our own backyard and see what is going on with journalism, the best job in the world, as it is described by three of the greatest Nobel Prize winners, journalists and writers – Marquez, Camus and Hemingway.
It might have slipped my mind to mention some of the great and famous authors, like one of my former colleagues that took Hemingway’s advice, who said that journalism is a wonderful job, as long as you quit on time. And so he saved himself. Macedonian journalists did not have the chance to leave and have a decent life as writers because being a writer in Macedonia does not promise a good income, unless you write columns that are paid well and not published anywhere. In the 4 decades I’ve spent in the profession, I have never seen such unhappy and humiliated journalists. I cannot remember the last time the profession was this undignified and undervalued. As if a tsunami has passed through the narrow media corridor from Tabanovce to Gevgelija. And when the tide goes down, all the rotten matter comes out in the open. Hundreds of journalists were left jobless and literally lived in poverty, with a day-to-day social care called compensation for redundant workers that expires faster than a mackerel fish in a freezer.
Well-known and professional journalists run around looking for jobs at marketing agencies, begging for donations from embassies and NGOs, knocking on Government doors where, I heard and could not believe, one of the biggest editorial offices was situated. I see some of them as office clerks at the municipalities and ministries, it’s a jackpot if they get a job in some great company where the managers were anxious to talk to them before, and now they offer their dignity just so they can survive. The jobless journalists do not envy their colleagues that have jobs and dig like miners just so they can create some spiritual food for small change. Only political and party propaganda is of high value, everything else that stands as genuine informing and education of the population is paid close to nothing. There are no more smiling journalists in Macedonia, known jokers and comedians, there are no more hangouts between journalists and exchanging jokes. There is only scrap and dirt everywhere you turn, just a click on your mobile phone or the remote and you’ll see tons of nastiness. International conmen in partnership with politicians who robbed journalists, the media houses and editorial offices, and all citizens by emptying the state budget and paying unbelievably high prices for the tyrants to stay in charge and obstruct justice. Of course there are some rich editors, journalists and media bosses as well. Very rich. This thread is not about them. The judges from the regular courts will write explanations for them, maybe some of them will be the ones they had great collaboration with in the ordering of verdicts.
These are the unfortunate consequences of the political and criminal ownership of most of the enslaved Macedonian media that left the country in ruins in the past ten years, equal to the ones in the most horrifying regimes. In order to win the reader’s trust once again, we need to bring back the dignity and reputation of the profession, which I still consider to be the best job in the world. Especially in these hardships, it is a sacred and noble duty to write on the right side, the side of the profession, the freedom, the citizens, and always against the misuse of power, the ones in charge, against organized crime and the bearers of corruption. It is the greatest and most dangerous cancer of the Macedonian transition that goes on even after 26 years of “freedom and independence”.
A journalist has to be on the side of the ones who suffer from history, not the ones that create history.
This is why I always considered that media freedom and higher standards of objective informing of the public, respecting the journalist’s code of ethics, taking responsibility for the job, implementing self-regulation and respecting the legal regulative is not just the journalists’ job. It is a great duty to everyone who got responsible functions in the wave of tearing down a regime in a peaceful way by creating climate and ambiance for radical changes, where many brave editors, reporters and columnists made their contribution. The ones who are now in charge by making promises to bring democracy and freedom back, cannot deliver those promises without free and professional media and reporters.
What the media should do right now, all newspapers, magazines, television channels or Internet websites, is stop the robbing of the journalists’ hard work, done by the journalists themselves. Will we ever start paying for borrowed articles in Macedonia? We continuously complain about being poorly paid, and still no one pays the author when media borrows their articles. Someone, somewhere came up with the idea that if you take one third or half of the article you can publish it without paying, and even including a photo of the author without the author’s consent. We see this kind of robbery in every passing minute. The TV channels broadcast debates and interviews every night. No one pays for anything. You got to a TV show, talk for two hours, half of the country hates you, the other half applauds you, the hosts and owners are pleased and satisfied, and not a dime for your trouble. Humiliation is all you can call it. I see that journalist associations and unions are doing their best to represent and protect their rights and freedom. But, the editorial offices stay silent to the evident theft when they need to pay for the borrowed articles. Let’s hope the legal regulative will be finally applied and that will be the end of stealing the journalists’ hard work from each other.