MEDIA Ordanoski: The public is the supreme judge when we speak of media freedom

We speak with political analyst Saso Ordanoski about freedom as a key to the development of democracy, media freedom and about the influence and responsibility of the media in defense of freedom.

CIVIL Media: What do you mean by freedom of expression, media freedom and activism?

Ordanoski: These issues are one of the most important ones in every democracy. The issue of freedom is essential for every democracy, and that means that one is not held responsible and does not bear consequences for having opinions that are opposite of those of the government. And once one comes to that situation, to be able to express his opinion regardless of what those who have responsibilities in government and the public itself think. And that is when we have achieved freedom in society. I think that Macedonia made enormous efforts to raise the levels of freedom that were extremely endangered, and even physical and violent levels. In that sense, I think that we have already come out of the fog and of the pollution in which we had been living for almost eleven years.

Now is the time to strengthen those standards that have been achieved, and to further develop them. The central issue of freedom is two-sided. The first one is what makes the person who has power to have influence over you, while the other one is the question of your integrity. That always comes down to how much the people themselves want to fight for freedom, and how much afterwards they know how to respect the responsibilities that come with freedom. Freedom is not a sea without a coast, and does not mean that there should be no consequences for what is said or done if that endangers the rights of others, which are also subject to freedom.

I believe were are on the right path and that the strengthening of those standards and responsibilities, of that creativity that implies freedom, of developing all factors of raising freedom, are all matters that are awaiting us in the coming period.

CIVIL Media: Do you face pressures from political and business centers of power and how do you deal with them?

Ordanoski: I have been in the public field of work for more than thirty years, as I am a journalist by profession, and I have already reached a status of some kind of a public figure whose word is respected and has meaning, but whose word also carries responsibility. If I start talking about all the consequences I have had in the last three or more decades, some of which very unpleasant, especially in the last ten years, I would have to spend a lot of time.

A person has to accept to be satisfied with what he himself is doing according to certain standards, for which he has decided to sacrifice himself in the sense of a certain professional engagement. From this point forward, you either need to fall into some kind of paranoia, which is a strategy of those who want to limit freedom, or into an even greater trap, and that is to become a clientele of those who can limit your freedom. I can say that many people got paid well and had it good in life by practicing that type of freedom, that is, by serving the centers of power.

Those experiences are not always pleasant, but ultimately, even though it sounds like an empty phrase, it is not, since I have been in this field of work long enough, in the end that honest and professional relationship with integrity does pay off. The public is the supreme judge of what we do and I think that the public, regardless of the pressures, has the power to judge which of those people

who appear in the public have the integrity for moral and professional action. My choice has always been for the public to be more important than the centers of power.

CIVIL Media: Can we speak of media freedom in Macedonia?

Ordanoski: Yes, we can talk about media freedom, since Macedonia has come out of a phase when it was even dangerous to express freedom. I do not think that this experience will return for at least some time, because the public now actually has raised criteria and defensive capabilities. Do not forget, those who were freedom-lovers managed to remove that not so freedom-loving regime that ruled with Macedonia in recent years. Now comes a time of financial and technological aspects of that freedom. However, if you do not have a feeling within you, a need for freedom, then it’s no use if you have money and perfect technologies, none of that will be of help. I think that we have built an atmosphere in which the people want to be free, want to express that freedom. Now we need to come to the level when we do that professionally and with responsibility. It is a story that lasts and never ends. You can never say that freedom has been won and that there is no need to fight for that anymore.

CIVIL Media: What are your recommendations, how should freedom of expression, media freedom and activism be defended?

Ordanoski: In our profession, the media and the issue of freedom are closely related to the market. To conclude, you need to survive by doing what you do. Macedonia has a completely deteriorated market in terms of the media, and a series of reforms are needed in this area. I personally think that the legal and regulatory solutions are relatively decent, with all the corrections that need to be made. Finally, everything comes down to the issue of the cadres. I do not think that the standard schools of journalism can respond to the challenges of the new time. The cadres need to be multi-technologically educated, interdisciplinary educated, they should, ultimately, be open to all experiences that new technologies carry, and thus the new public…The new generations have different understandings of what is accessibility, privacy, what is an opportunity for placing ideas, where to look for markets…

Biljana Jordanovska

Camera: Аtanas Petrovski

This project is financed by the European Union through the small grants program “Protecting Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Western Balkans”, implemented by the Croatian Journalists Association, as part of the regional project “Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety”, implemented through a partnership of six regional journalist associations – Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina Journalists, Croatian Journalists’ Association, Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.

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