COUNCIL OF MEDIA ETHICS: Citizens can complain on unprofessional reporting

Since September of 2014 citizens can submit complaints on the unprofessional reporting in the broadcasting, print and online media.
A Press Complaints Commission, composed of representatives from the media and the civil society sector, works on review of the complaints related to violation of professional and ethical standards.
The President of the Press Complaints Commission, Mirce Adamcevski, explains that the establishment of this body is a very significant step for the media sphere in the Republic of Macedonia.
“We have an opportunity to protect citizens and public from unprofessional journalists and media, help the media owners to avoid the risk of paying high fines and help ourselves by publicly condemning those that do not care about ethics in journalism. Based on the current situation in Macedonia, I know that many people will define this goal as a quixotic, but this does not prevent us from trying to make a step in the direction of separating professionals from amateurs. I know there is currently no setting for such a step in the country, but we will achieve nothing by just sitting aside, Adamcevski said. In his opinion, the ignorance is of benefit for those that create this kind of a setting.

Therefore, we have to finally start, he said, explaining that the Commission will not consider anonymous complaints. A press complaint may be filed by any citizen, legal entity or other members of the public, including journalists.

As Adamcevski pointed out, complaints will be filed against a particular media outlet, not against individual journalists, and not later than one month after the information is published. The Commission will have one month to make a decision after the complaint is submitted.

The decision of the Press Complaints Commission will be sent to the media, which is obliged to publish it. It is important that the Commission will also consider complaints referring to media outlets that are not members of the Council of Media Ethics.

It is very important to have an unbiased Commission and we will all stand for this objective. It is not less important that the Commission should build a reputation in the public as a professional body trusted by the public, Adamcevski stated.

As the President of the Council of Media Ethics, Katerina Sinadinovska, emphasized the members of the Council are aware that difficulties might appear.

Therefore, the process of preparations for establishment of this body lasted nine months; we have been working on all aspects, carefully planning the formation of the Commission, the Management Board and the Supervisory Board. The Commission is composed of selected professionals, people who enjoy credibility in their profession; hence it is time to turn our attention to citizens. The main challenge is to accomplish the rights of citizens to be informed.
It is not just a problem that journalists face difficulties in their work, but also the fact that citizens lack quality and right information. Therefore, we call on all citizens to become aware that this body is here to protect their rights and thus raise the standards in our work, Sinadinovska said.

Teofil Blazevski, member of the Press Complaints Commission, stressed out that the principle of operation of this body is self-regulation. The more self-regulation we have, the less regulation by the state or some other party, Blazevski said.

The Council of Media Ethics estimates that the work of this organization will contribute to reduction of the number of lawsuits against journalists. “International practices show a decrease in the number of lawsuits after the establishment of councils of ethics”, Bekim Ajdini, member of the Press Complaints Commission stated.

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