The way we perceive (“see” and make sense of) things, determines our behavior a great deal. The media control what the public is going to see by dimensioning the strength of the stimulus, i.e. they focus the attention on only one part of what is being informed on, thereby limiting the size and quality of perception. If the information pre-dimensions one part of the image, the context can be easily lost and what we see can be incorrectly interpreted, and our acts, our behavior will be guided by that interpretation
Author: prof. Mirjana Najchevska, PhD, human rights expert
One of the simplest ways for focusing the public’s perception on one part of the image and making the public unable to understand all parameters of a certain occurrence (especially when it comes to situations when laws are violated and human rights are breached) is the usage of one or two words that cover one highly serious situation.
Such is the case with the word “SOROS” as used currently in use by the media. Seemingly, it’s a matter of informing on the activities of one man, George Soros (and groups of people financed by George Soros). However, if you take a look at the broad usage of this word by the media, it becomes obvious that this word is being used for focusing the public’s perception on one point with the aim to defocus the public from what’s really important: an enormous violation of the basic right of giving and receiving information, thinking and expressing.
Everything began with the speech of VMRO-DPMNE’s leader, Nikola Gruevski, and his interview for the propaganda megaphone Republika (Gruevski for Republika: VMRO-DPMNE will outlive both Soros and his external and internal servants and mercenaries)
“And is he (Soros, our remark) aware that with his money he destroys many young generations, which, lured by his money, have put themselves under the command, indoctrination, and influence of these psychopaths from the Communism?
Is this the democracy that Soros wants to plant in Macedonia? Therefore I say, if Soros believes that he does good in Macedonia, he must be very confused.
VMRO-DPMNE will outlive both Soros and his external and internal servants and mercenaries”.
The perception imposed by the interview is that Gruevski and his followers are opposed to some illegitimate work of a foreign structure that has own institutions with various forms in Macedonia, whose task is to destroy VMRO-DPMNE.
“Every time when VMRO-DPMNE is in power, his institutions are against VMRO-DPMNE. And every time when SDSM is in power, his institutions again are against VMRO-DPMNE, which is center, right-wing and conservative political party. There isn’t a single thing that VMRO-DPMNE has done in these 25 years for which any of his institutions, such as the Open Society Institute, an NGO financed by him, medium or alike, have said that it is a good thing. And vice versa, there isn’t a single step made by SDSM they condemned”.
The broad media reaction that ensued after these claims is oriented either toward informing on (and supporting) Gruevski’s attitude or toward disputing the attitude and attempting to present George Soros and his work in Macedonia as positive.
- Poposki: Soros’ interference is unacceptable
- VMRO-DPMNE and Poposki on Soros and the destabilization of the country
- VMRO-DPMNE: SDSM and Soros are the hangmen of independent journalism and civil society sector
- VMRO-DPMNE: SDSM and Soros are a disgrace and catastrophic disaster for Macedonia
- VMRO-DOMNE: The people have decided, the desoroization process begins
- SOROS: MURDERER OF DEMOCRACY
- VMRO-DPMNE declared “war” on Soros who is considered as “foe” of journalism
- Jovanovikj: Soros has donated 3.5 million euro to the NGOs, the government 5.5 million euro
- (VIDEO) Marichikj: Gruevski didn’t have a problem with us when he was taking money from us
With this manner of media informing, the public actually loses touch of what’s really going on, and that is an attack on two basic human rights: right of association and freedom of expression (attack on civil society associations, request for limiting the work of civil associations, request for prohibiting civil society associations’ work, request for prohibiting the expression of opinion, spreading information and receiving information).
The number of media that attempt to broaden the public’s perception in regard to what’s going on and to present the attack on civil society associations and freedom of opinion and expression, concealed behind the attack on George Soros, is exceptionally small. But even they curtail that attack to attack on civil society associations financed by the Foundation Open Society.
“VMRO-DPMNE, today, via press release and interview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Poposki, once again threatened the media and the NGOs financed by the Foundation Open Society”.
Even when the media inform on attitudes and statements that unambiguously offer one different perception, they do not elucidate the blur that is already present in the media space.
“‘The European Parliament, through Ivo Vajlg, completely supports the civil society organizations that ‘play pivotal role for the obedience to the democratic norms’.
‘We strongly condemn the recent attacks against civil society activists and we ask the authorities to keep vigil on the legal state and to bring all perpetrators of these attacks to justice’, Vajgl says”.
“The civil society sector believes that VMRO-DPMNE misuses state institutions in the ‘battle’ against Soros. NGOs believe that Gruevski, through the so called ‘desoroization’, attempts to create false reality for the citizens and the members of his party”.
What the media failed to produce is an analysis of the entire campaign conducted under the work name SOROS, viewed from civil society associations’ aspect. One analysis, not much profound, should offer a wider perspective to the statements of DPMNE’s high officials, who under the term SOROS, encompass the civil society organizations that call the government to accountability, criticize the government, ask questions, request participation and responsibility.
For instance, if we replace the word SOROS with the words “civil society associations” the titles in the media would have looked like this:
- Poposki: CIVIL SOCIETY ASSOCIATIONS’ interference is unacceptable
- VMRO-DPMNE and Poposki on CIVIL SOCIETY ASSOCIATIONS and the destabilization of the country
- VMRO-DPMNE: SDSM and CIVIL SOCIETY ASSOCIATIONS are the hangmen of the independent journalism and civil society sector
- VMRO-DPMNE: SDSM and CIVIL SOCIETY ASSOCIATIONS are a disgrace and catastrophic disaster for Macedonia
- VMRO-DPMNE: The people have decided, the process of silencing the CIVIL SOCIETY ASSOCIATIONS begins
- CIVIL SOCIETY ASSOCIATIONS: MURDERERS OF DEMOCRACY
The media didn’t show interest in the scope of the proclaimed “desoroization”, i.e. the scope of limiting the civil society associations’ work. Does the desoroization comprise civil society organizations that have received grants from the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia or all associations that are critically-oriented toward the current government and VMRO-DPMNE as a ruling party in the last 10 years.
The media didn’t ask a question whether it is a matter of civil society organizations that have broken the Law on Associations and Foundations, and why the provisions of this law haven’t been applied if there has been such violation:
The organization’s work shall be prohibited if:
– its work is directed toward violent demolition of the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia,
– spurs and calls for military aggression or incites national, racial or religious hatred or intolerance,
– terrorism-related activities,
– undertakes activities opposite to the Constitution or a law and
– violates the freedoms and rights of other persons.
The media didn’t show interest whether the Law on Associations and Foundations will be applied in the act of “desoroization”, i.e, the limiting of the work of civil society organizations, called for by the highest state or party officials, or there are actually calls for non-legal, i.e. illegal activities.
The terminology used for informing has great impact on the way the public perceives the occurences, on the focus of the public’s attention, i.e. what’s in the center of that attention and what’s left out. Appropriate terms can clarify the occurences, but they can also blur those occurence. One of the tasks of media is to block the spreading of terminological fog that deforms public’s perception, which henceforth could become source of prejudices and hate speech, and/or promotes illegal acting.
“The witch-hunt” or the call on lynch, no matter if they are dubbed desoroization or degülenization, have been causing problems for centuries to the legal systems due to the alleged “righteous wrath” of the masses. But, since the second half of the 20th century, the civilized legal systems have agreed that it is not matter of righteous wrath, but of abuse of the psychology of the masses for brutal and evident violation of law.