From the aspect of good governance and the media’s contribution to ensuring the citizens are informed about this topic, it is indispensable to find the answer to the following questions: why there is no municipality that meets all conditions to be proclaimed a municipality with “good governance”, whether the local authorities have started initiative to hear the citizens’ needs and their opinions on how the money from the municipal budget is being spent, who is obliged to control the transparent and good governance, etc.
Author: Svetlana Veljanovska, PhD. International Law
Responsibility, openness and accountability during the creation of partner relations with the citizens and the companies are the essential prerequisites for every responsible government during the creation of the policies, during the creation of the national legislature, strategies and initiatives in all spheres of the governance. This is possible with greater transparency and by opening the possibilities through forums for exchanging positions and opinions.
However, there are several essential questions:
- Where can the citizens inform themselves about the creation of policies that they are interested in?;
- How available is the information for the possibilities that are on their disposal, i.e. how attainable are the possibilities for their inclusion? and
- How will they know if their possible engagement has resulted with effects?
The practice of good governance is not a topic that can be frequently seen in the Macedonian media space. Nevertheless, with the National action plan for open governmental partnership for the period between 2016 and 2018, one such possibility is actually available because:
„the citizens and the businesses have access to data that will help them make their decisions and the government should participate and should be oriented towards consensus. When the governments are open and cooperative, they improve their work and they become more efficient and more responsible regarding the citizens’ needs. This instrument contributes towards improvement of the civil society’s surrounding, inclusion in the creation of policies and decision making.“
This event, broadcasted by the majority of the media, is a rare opportunity to obtain information as viewers (listeners or readers) that an open governmental partnership is possible via the Council for cooperation with the civil society, which is formed for that particular purpose and that there are workgroups in which the regional experiences and initiatives are presented.
ЕFFECTS INSTEAD OF SECONDARY INFORMATION
One similar project that was implemented on a local level offered one rather different image from the aspect of good governance, transparency and accountability of the municipalities. Namely, it is the EU project in which 74 indicators checked the level of responsibility, transparency and accountability of the municipalities, checked to what extent the local self-government i.e. the municipal administration is open for the citizens, and also checked to what extent the citizens participate in the making of local policies and the municipal budget.
The media coverage for this project was average too, i.e. reporting from the press conference called for presentation of the project and nothing else. No additional questions or interest, albeit it is a word of a project that initiated estimation of essential problems on a local, but on a national level too.
The presented data, related to the fact that it is about the sharing of the Croatian experience in the strengthening of the civil society that has to be the springboard for preserving the principles of a transparent and responsible local government, but also for active and aware citizens, are trivial for the media audience.
Even the fact that exercising transparent governance without corruption is mentioned is not something extraordinary unless more detailed data while publishing articles of such type is shared.
If the fact that it is a word of a research that will be financed by the EU with the amount stated in euro (160.000 in the mentioned example) and that the research will be implemented by civil associations in 48 municipalities in the countries is enough for the media, then for their viewers, listeners and readers, these data are completely minor. They consider the effects that must be achieved as more important, and those effects must be visible in the everyday life of each and every one of them.
Nonetheless, it sounds good when we hear that the good governance will provide sustainable environment on a social, economic and ecological plan on local and national level. However, those are words written in resource applications, and the media public cannot accept them if it cannot feel them in its own way of living and daily routine.
We get more concrete informing when we have proactive journalists that are in the know of the topic they write for, but who are also devoted to their work.
Namely: if the article states that:
„According to the research, the average result achieved by the municipalities is 3.53, and there is no municipality that showed results that would enroll it in the group of good governed municipalities.“,
„There are both rural and urban local self-governments on the list of good governed municipalities, so the municipal development level does not have a great effect on the good governing.“,
and also that:
„The analysis is showing that the budget that the municipality has on disposal does not play a significant role in the good governing“ (Ekonomski.mk),
it is completely logical all this would be followed by dozens of questions that the authorities need to answer, and these answers would intrigue the readers (listeners, viewers). Which means that the journalists have the obligation to ask on behalf of their audience.
Of course, not everything should be covered in one article, but from those reasons, there is the so called “news in line” in the journalism, which is a lot more suitable for content coming out of presented project results.
WHICH ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT REQUIRE AN ANSWER FROM THE MEDIA
The facilitating of the access to information about “good governance”, no matter if it comes to a local or central government, is one of the media’s obligations which is appointed to them with the fact that they are resources for public informing of the citizens, but also with their ethical principles according to which they have the obligation:
„Having in mind their role in the building of democracy and civic society, the journalists shall defend the human rights, dignity and freedom, shall respect the pluralism of ideas and opinions, shall contribute to strengthening of the legal state and shall participate in the control over the government and other subjects in the public life“ (Code of journalists of Macedonia)
Therefore, from the aspect of good governance and their contribution to informed citizens about this sphere, it is indispensable to seek an answer to the following questions:
- Why there isn’t a municipality that fulfils all conditions to be proclaimed a municipality with “good governiance”?;
- How is it possible for municipalities with smaller budget to be more successful than the ones with big budget?;
- Whether the local authorities have started initiative to hear the citizens about their needs and about the spending of the money from the municipal budget?;
- Who is obliged to control the transparent and good governance?
The citizens give their trust at the elections, however they need necessary information that will not be a part of the parties’ political pamphlets, but the information would be obtained from independent and unbiased sources and the media in this country should be such source.
Or as it is stated in their Code:
„Main duty of the journalist is to respect the truth and right of the public to be informed, in accordance to Article 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.
The journalists have a role of transmitters of information, ideas and opinions, and have a right to comment. By respecting the ethical virtues and professional standards regarding the presentation of information, the journalists shell be honest, objective and will report promptly.“
When it comes to allowing civil participation in the public policies and the governance by those who have gained the citizens’ trust, the journalists have such power which, if used properly, is immense.