[Critical review of the TV Dnevnik (Main News Program) of the Macedonian National Television, broadcasted on October 27, 2015, 19.30h]
The complete statement of the diplomats was not interesting enough for the national television, so it broadcasted an “entire” 46-second video from Garrett’s statement. The video from Garrett’s statement with messages for the government and the opposition was carefully “cut, edited and balanced”, thereby shifting the focus from the actual point of the diplomats’ statement, so the crucial messages wouldn’t reach the public.
Written by: Olivera Vojnovska
These days, the Ambassadors of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the EU (October 27, 2015) sent a clear message to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, urging him to recommence the negotiations and to immediately implement the Przino Agreement, because failure to do so would put the EC recommendation for Macedonia’s accession negotiations at risk.
“BUTCHERED” STATEMENT REDUCED TO 46 SECONDS
British Ambassador Charles Garrett read the joint statement in front of the government, emphasizing that “governments, and especially their heads have a special responsibility in times of political crisis.” Western diplomats urged “PM Gruevski to authorize his team to finalize the agreement in terms of the outstanding issues from the Przino Agreement and to conduct the necessary reforms swiftly, in order to create a favorable climate for holding credible elections, that would be recognized both at home and internationally. In doing so, he should also demonstrate accountability for any illegal acts.”
Ambassadors also expect the special public prosecutor to be provided with all the necessary resources, so she could be able to do her work properly.
However, this point from the so far strictest and most direct statement of the ambassadors, after the deadlines for the formation of the so-called technical government were missed, was not presented in the main news program on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.
Obviously, this fragment from the statement of the diplomats was not interesting enough for the national television, so it broadcasted an “entire” 46-second video from Garrett’s statement. The video from Garrett’s statement with messages for the government and the opposition was carefully “cut, edited and balanced”, thereby shifting the focus from the actual point of the diplomats’ statement, so the essential messages wouldn’t reach the public. So, instead of objectively informing about the message of the diplomats, a “butchered” statement was intentionally presented, leaving an impression that the government and the opposition are equally responsible for the implementation of the Przino Agreement.
Broadcasting only a part of the statement in the 20th minute of the main news program just proves the intention to marginalize the message of the diplomats. This is completely unprofessional and irresponsible for a medium, especially if we take into account that this is the national television.
FLOODED WITH ARAB INVESTMENTS!
Unlike the silent statement of the diplomats, the PM’s visit to Abu Dhabi was much more interesting; it was presented at the start of the news program as a detailed newscast with prominent space for (the statements of) Gruevski.
The newscast was used to boast about the meeting of the Prime Minister with the Minister for International Cooperation of Abu Dhabi, stating that “aside from agriculture, Macedonia and the UAE are negotiating to cooperate in the areas of tourism and education, and that Arab businessmen are willing to invest in Macedonia”.
So, for example, the first newscast includes words of praise such as:
Macedonia and the Emirates are strengthening their economic ties. They will collaborate in infrastructural projects, education, tourism and agriculture…
This makes it seem like some kind of a specific agreement was signed, but it is obvious from the newscast itself that actually, it was agreed that Macedonian institutions establish contacts with the Development Fund of Abu Dhabi…
However, according to the statements of the Arab businessmen, (2.22 min and 2.55 min of the video) it is obvious that they have only expressed interest to “consider the possibilities of doing business,” and interest for plans and “willingness to invest in Macedonia”, hoping that this will happen soon.
THE PRIME MINISTER MET WITH THE UAE CROWN PRINCE!
Gruevski’s meeting with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was also euphorically presented. This newscast (which is not included in the online edition of the news program) featured statements such as “a special emphasis was placed on the economic cooperation, the increase of the foreign trade and investments, and the Macedonian Prime Minister noted the reforms conducted by our country for creating a good business climate and support of the business sector.”
Viewers again had the opportunity to see the Prime Minister, discussing about his impressions from the meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed:
I presented the situation in Macedonia in terms of economic progress and the conditions for doing business. He had a very positive reaction and asked many additional questions to which we provided very clear and precise answers…
However, the public did not see the impressions of the PM’s host, in order to be able to get the full picture about the event, because the material was based only on Gruevski’s statement.
During the main news program, there was yet another newscast for an investment “boom” in Macedonia! So, in addition to businessmen from Abu Dhabi , businessmen from Qatar are also interested to invest in the tourism, trade and energy sectors in Macedonia.
When we look at these three newscasts, presented as the main news during the news program, we may easily get the impression that the country will be flooded with Arab investments!
PROPER NEWSCASTS “CONCEALED” BY ALL THE BOASTING
The boasting continued in the newscast titled “Reduced duties and shortened procedures contributed to a two-fold increase in exports”.
Macedonian companies are supported with more than 12 million euros annually thanks to the reduction of customs rates, equaling 108 million Euros for the last 9 years.
The newscast does not provide a single indicator or an independent expert opinion to convince the viewers that this is true.
The news program, lasting about 30 minutes, also included several professionally prepared materials, such as the information that “camps will not be built in Macedonia and the temporary transit centers are to be kept in service” and the newscast “Business should stay away from politics.”
The world news were also properly prepared, containing information such as:
- The European Union and Kosovo signed a Stabilization and Association agreement in Strasbourg, paving the way for Kosovo’s membership in the Union;
- Two political parties supporting the independence of Catalonia submitted a draft-resolution in the regional parliament in Barcelona for initiating a procedure for secession from Spain and for forming the new state of Catalonia;
- The court in Zagreb accepted the 1.6 million euro bail for the former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to defend himself from a position of freedom;
- “Doctors without Borders” hospital hit during the airstrikes in Yemen, led by the Saudi Arabia coalition.
- Unfortunately, all of this information was obscured by the numerous praises directed at the government!
This journalistic lesson was created within the framework of the USAID Media Strengthening in Macedonia Project - Media Fact-Checking Service Component,, mplemented by Metamorphosis. The journalistic lesson is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, USAID or the United States Government. For more information on the work of USAID in Macedonia please visit its website (http://macedonia.usaid.gov) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/USAIDMacedonia).