UNESCO supported the annual initiative carried out by the Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia (CMEM) to award prizes for the best journalistic stories published in the country and promoting human rights, in particular the rights of socially vulnerable and marginalized people. The award ceremony took place in Skopje on 5 October 2018 in the presence of Ambassador Samuel Zbogar, Head of the EU Delegation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
“For a , we are very positively surprised by the high response to the competition. We received a total of 62 stories by 35 journalists and the award ceremony was widely covered by more than 30 media throughout the country”, said Marina Tuneva, Executive Director of the CMEM. “These awards are a recognition of the efforts of some journalists to provide citizens with information on individuals and groups that are not sufficiently and appropriately represented in the media. It shows that media can be drivers of democratic change and enable equal participation in the democratic debate”, she added.
This year the jury rewarded unanimously Herukan Aqifi for a program broadcasted in the 360 Degree TV program, on Alsat-M television, and titled “In the wake of the white cane day – are we human society only on paper”. Through a professional and simple narration complemented by high-quality visuals, Aqifi investigated the inclusion of blind people in the society. The second award was assigned to a work devoted to prisoners’ conditions and their re-integration in the society once they have served their sentence. The story is the result of a series of articles written by Ana Cvetkovska Toromanoska and Boris Kunoski, published by the Macedonian Information Agency (MIA). The third story awarded was a short documentary called “Collectors” – on the widely ignored lifestyle of poor citizens of the country who collect plastic waste – by Aleksandar Manasiev and Mirko Trajanovski, published on the “Vidi Vaka” portal.
In his address, EU Ambassador Zbogar praised the role journalists who joined the competition. “It takes a sense of justice, dedication and work to raise awareness about the problems of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. Putting spotlight on these issues through journalism is how one can raise public awareness and ask for accountability and immediate action from those responsible.”
The UNESCO project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey” started in 2016 and aims at improving trust in media through fostering media accountability mechanisms and hence respect for media ethics in the region. With financial support from the European Commission, UNESCO is supporting press councils through direct funding and through the implementation of activities for improving both their functioning and their visibility.