On March 1, the implementation process for "Media for the EU" - Civil Society Program for the participation of the media in the negotiations for the membership of North Macedonia in the EU - a project dedicated to improving the capacities of the journalistic and media sphere of North Macedonia, officially began. The 3-year project will be implemented by a consortium of partners led by Eurotink – Center for European Strategies in partnership with ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy and BIRC – Balkan Institute for Regional Cooperation. The project is financed by the European Commission within the IPA Program for Civil Society and Media 2021-2023.
With this project, the goals are to upgrade the media capacities for coverage, monitoring and examination of the negotiation process for the membership of North Macedonia in the EU. This includes activities such as working directly with journalists at capacity-building workshops, facilitating the exchange of expertise between less and more experienced journalists and journalists from Macedonia and the EU, and aiming towards European media standards. One of the problems the project deals with is the lack of youth interest in journalism, mainly due to a lack of confidence, and the project tries to remedy this with activities to encourage greater participation and education on specific skills and how to use instrumental tools in the field. .
In theory, North Macedonia has good legislative support for a productive media sphere and freedom of expression. The Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia guarantees the rights of freedom of speech, thought, expression and public access to information, as well as protection of journalists and blocking of censorship. However, there are numerous issues that prevent the further development of journalism and media. For example, frivolous lawsuits, and pressure from broadcasters in the television industry are commonly used as an instrument to intimidate the media and encourage self-censorship. A better media sphere has many benefits, including enabling more informed decision-making by the constituency, greater access to accurate information and greater participation.
This project is proof of ALDA's commitment to work on improving the capacities of the local sphere in the Balkans and the commitment to the process of Europeanization and the presence of the EU in the Balkans. The Europeanization process of North Macedonia is particularly problematic, and in the area of media and freedom of expression, there have been no notable improvements in recent years. The project should contribute to the development of an enabling environment in North Macedonia, enabling good relations between the media and civil society, as well as fighting against misinformation. Young people are not only the future of the profession, but they are also the future of the country, and this project will help further strengthen their place in society and help improve the information sphere.