MEDIA Sabrioski: Without free media there is no democracy

Journalist Sunai Sabrioski, in an interview for CIVIL Media talks about freedom of expression, media freedoms and activism, about the role of journalists and media workers in improving the situation in the media, about the changes in the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services.

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

Sabrioski: Freedom of expression as a concept in building an individual is a very important segment for everyone. As I think that freedom of expression should not be sought only through those legal definitions. The family is an important segment in freedom of expression.

From the perspective of the media, there is not so much to talk about here. There are many reports, both from domestic and foreign organizations, which warn of violation of the freedom of expression of the media.

If we speak about activism in a journalist sense, then I think that a journalist cannot allow himself to convey all the information he hears as such, because a journalist in journalism has a dual role, one being as a recipient of information, and the other as someone who conveys information. I am not saying that a journalist who is absolutely working in the domain of objective journalism, balanced journalism, does not contribute to activism in this profession and in society in general.

A journalist is primarily a person who builds a public opinion, and that is why he has to pay attention to the way in which he writes the text, to the way he expresses himself and to what it can cause in the future. Therefore, I believe that there absolutely is some kind of activism, but not that pure activism, which many activists can carry out unlike journalists.

CIVIL Media: In what way do you support or can support freedom of expression, media freedom and activism?

Sabrioski: I consider that in no case should we talk about having to support freedom of expression, because every person is born with this freedom. From the perspective of the media, do we need to support them? Absolutely, yes! However, here we have that clientelism that largely influences whether you will contribute or not. When I say clientelism, I primarily refer to the business interest groups and of course the government. If the government interferes in the work of the journalist, in the editorial policy of the media house, then you just cannot contribute much in that fight. If we go back to what we previously said about activism, we will see that the the key tool is not only the journalist, but also the editor, the channels used to transmit the information, in the direction of improving the situation of freedom of expression and media freedom. Because if you do not have free media, you do not have democracy as well. Precisely freedom of expression and media freedom are a very important segment for a country to be able to declare itself as democratic. In this past period there was a flood of events such as the Colorful Revolution, the big events that occurred on April 27 in Parliament. Those are moments that contributed to developing the debate and to the same being argued and constructive.

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

Sabrioski: If such a thing does happen, it will certainly be known since I am that kind of person and believe that it will be of public interest. Here we have the question as to how much a journalist, editor or media outlet are capable of dealing with it should such a certain pressure occur.

Personally, I haven’t experienced pressure from any interest groups, business communities or certain institutions in my work until now. There have been some reactions, some requests, but we cannot consider them as pressures. The requests have been in terms of how I should focus my text, how I should report and similar. However, I will say once again, I am the one who decides how the text will be edited and how it will be conveyed to the editor, while the editor is the one who will decide whether that information will be published or not.

In regards to the pressures, not that there aren’t any, but it is something that has been talked about for a long time. We had situations where many journalists found themselves in the clutches of the judiciary, and could not pull away from that. Therefore, it is because of those business interest groups that are trying to influence that we have come to a situation to again be at the bottom of the reports on freedom of expression and media freedom.

CIVIL Media: What are your recommendations in the context of the fight for freedom of expression and media freedom?

Sabrioski: The fight for freedom of expression should not even exist at all. It should itself be free. If you need to have a fight to request some kind of freedom, then you have some imbalance in the entire social system. So the recommendations are not from today, and they are not from yesterday. Everyone is pointing to the fact that the state needs to take its hands away from the media, that the media should be absolutely free in creating their program scheme, because they are the people who create public opinion, who reach a certain community, certain interest groups.

Маjа Ivanovska

Camera: Dehran Muratov

Photo: Biljana Jordanovska

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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