Tuesday, May 28, 2024

AN AGORA FOR ANOTHER MEDIA PARADIGM

The debate organized by the Kosovo Institute of Media and Communication (IKMK) and the Balkan Institute for Regional Cooperation (BIRC) has opened a new horizon of cooperation and created a professional synergy for establishing a new functioning paradigm in the media space. Media professionals have extensively treated the current state of the media, all the legal and self-regulatory framework. Countries in the region have an urgent need for such debates that re-dimension the essence of the media space and with it the essence of democracy as a space where politics and governance are shaped.

Author: Bardhyl Zaimi

Regional collaborations are already opening a new horizon in identifying common challenges and affirming another media space that relies on the values of professional journalism. The Internet world has created endless possibilities for information flow and in this context; no country can be isolated from media productions, which flood the online world space in various forms.

However, this information is not always based on the principles of professional journalism and not always in the function of democratization of Western Balkan countries that as geographies and mindsets try to integrate into the big European family. The challenges of professional journalism remain permanent in all these countries of the region that are undergoing a transition process, each with its own specifics.

The media remains a pillar of democracy, the strongest indicator of development and progress in affirming and establishing European standards throughout the institutional and overall social functioning. Although the Western Balkan countries have already made steps ahead in establishing a modern legal framework for the functioning of the media, however, many problems still appear to be a serious obstacle to the active and welfare role of the media in the democratization process.

Political pressures, favoritism, types of censorship and self-censorship, abuses by certain media and, above all, disrespect for professional standards are black holes that absorb the consolidation of a media space in the countries of the region.

It is precisely these problems and many other defects in the functioning of the media space that were discussed at a conference in Skopje on “Media and Democratization in the Western Balkans”, organized by the Kosovo Institute of Media and Communication (IKMK) and the Balkan Institute for Regional Cooperation (BIRC).

Two panels of discussions and one workshop highlighted all the problems and challenges that lie ahead of the real constitution of a professional media space always taking into account the whole context of media evolution in a heavy political transition process that has consistently reflected negatively on reporting as well with particular emphasis on interethnic relations.

A very substantive, unequivocal debate in the two sessions of the conference has revealed all anomalies in the media space in the media-political report and in the media-professional standards report in particular on the ethics of information appearing complex and decomposed in the context in the shape of journalistic performance flood of performances outside any professional standard. This debate also discussed the whole legal framework of media functioning, which on paper seems to be well written, but which in practice fails to be implemented due to professional deviations and due to numerous political, party pressures that always insist on bringing journalism under the “clutches” of political agendas.

In this context, this conference has exposed the paradox of the dominance of information related to the agendas of political parties, leaving aside the real problems of the citizens. This conference has also highlighted the need to seek solutions to numerous problems in the media sphere of a similar nature in Kosovo and North Macedonia, in particular in the field of ethical information and increasingly political control that it becomes more and more sophisticated. There has also been a need for the media to avoid party agendas and move on to more in-depth reporting that deals objectively with citizens’ problems without becoming part of the power-manipulating narratives of Government. It is also emphasized the need to promote journalism as a noble profession among young people, despite the current neglecting that comes as a result of countless journalistic attacks by politics that have created a bad image for the profession.

In the wide range of the discussed problems, a particular place has occupied the online media with all the complexity of their appearance and the difficult process of self-regulation, but not an impossible one. The chaos in the online media space has been identified as a problem in itself, but at the same time has been expressed the belief that online media should not be demonized because there are still journalists who professionally do their job.

Investigative journalism has been seen as a necessity in order to reach more in-depth information for the public beyond the clichés of daily reporting that dwell only on barren political party statements. Generally,  this conference has managed to identify the problems and challenges of the media and at the same time has put forward the idea of solutions that must be followed by the community of journalists and other media professionals.

This debate has made it possible to understand that in the Balkan countries, the media faces roughly similar problems, implying a powerlessness to establish standards of functioning.

However, throughout this set of problems and difficulties, the protagonists of the media sphere have shown their willingness to continue their efforts to consolidate a media space that will respond to the mission of journalism and thus to democratic developments in the region.

The experiences and professional commitment designed in the spirit of regional cooperation can create another synergy in the media space, strengthening the role of the media in institutional and social life. This substantive debate has opened a new horizon of cooperation and synergy that can guide the further consolidation of the media sphere as an integral part of democracy and progress. Establishing a new paradigm of media reception and stronger professional engagement can truly give this field the right standards of professionalism and ethics of functioning. The quality of information also determines the quality of democracy. Countries in the region have an urgent need for such debates that re-dimension the essence of the media space and with it the essence of democracy as a space where politics and governance are shaped. The more powerful, independent and professional the media space is, the more democracy retrieves the essential meanings that typical Balkan politics always eclipses for its own calculations that are contrary to the interests of citizens as inevitable constituents of democratic life.

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