THE MEDIA SHOULD UNITE, NOT FOSTER INTOLERANCE
The fact is that the media can have a lot of impact on the human mind, so the harm that comes from them is bigger and longer-term. As an example of how a common information or opinion can be turned into a means of disruption in society and manipulation by the media, is the way in which the analysis published by the British newspaper “Financial Times” was transmitted.
Not only was this text abused in various ways in order to promote ethnic division, but has also been abused for rising tensions and stirring nervousness among the majority of the population in North Macedonia on a topic that causes many emotions, which is the question of Great Albania. It is precisely Great Albania the magic word of those who write these texts that bring them more “likes”, “shares” and an increased effect on the readers, which can then be channeled into hatred of fellow citizens.
At the beginning of the day, the original texts related to this analysis put the focus on “the diplomatic success of the Prespa Agreement,” and then texts with a different direction appeared. Different media such as “Lider“, “Vecer“, “Vesnik“, “InfoMaks“, “Javno.mk“, published almost the same text, but with slightly different titles, each more sensational than the other.
Thus, in the newspaper “Vecer”, the title is “The Financial Times published a text as if dictated by Ali Ahmeti, Edi Rama and Ramush Haradinaj: “Northern” Macedonia must strengthen the rights of ethnic Albanians” that clearly alludes to “the risk of Great Albania” from the very beginning, in order to give further details in the analysis in the British newspaper that have nothing to do with the title.
The same portal published another text on this analysis entitled “WE ARE NOT ASKED. The Financial Times: There is no peace in Macedonia if the Albanians are not satisfied” who can justifiably create anger among the ethnic Macedonians because they would feel less valued than the Albanians whose requirements must be all met. But the intention of the author and the medium for incitement of hatred and anger is clear, although in the text of the British newspaper there are no such conclusions.
But there is also a bright side to this story. Several media in Macedonian and Albanian such as “Zaman”, “Brif”, “Aktuelno”, “Lokalno.mk”, “MIA”, “Nezavisen”, “Opserver”, “Telegrafi”, “Medial”, “BalkanWeb“,”BotaSot“, “TetovaSot“and “Foldrejt“, this text was conveyed with a focus on the Prespa Agreement, which is presented as one of the most successful diplomatic reconciliations among Balkan states, as is the very text of the Financial Times.
The text in the sequel has only one part, as is also in the original text of the British newspaper, which discusses the fulfillment of the rights of the Albanians, in order not to be susceptible to the idea of unification with Kosovo and Albania. But these are facts that are not twisted, but transferred in the original and without any comment. The part that speaks of the Albanians is quoted, so that the readers themselves would evaluate how they will interpret it.
The media in Albanian such as “Telegrafi“, “Medial“, “BallkanWeb“, “BotaSot“, “TetovaSot” dhe “Foldrejt” are protocolary and transfer only what is written, even in the order in which the text is written, without having sensationalistic headlines about the possibility of uniting the Albanian territories, that is, the formation of Great Albania, if the Albanians are not satisfied from exercising their rights.
The Albanian language media, same as the neutral media in Macedonian language, are more focused on the Prespa Agreement as a benefit rather than the possibility of Great Albania as a risk.
It is clear from the analysis that one plain article, or text, can be interpreted in different ways. After all, it is the benefit of democracy. But the media, especially the internet portals, must be aware that they create public opinion, and hence they should nurture democracy, not violate it. The media that aim to spin, or manipulate, creating discord in the society, will find the smallest detail to use it for their purposes, and the conscientious media would circumvent and not exaggerate even that gram of disparity.
The media in North Macedonia have a more difficult and more responsible role than the more democratically developed countries, because they write about citizens with open wounds from the past due to interethnic intolerance. This responsibility should be borne appropriately by nurturing diversity rather than creating even deeper divisions.
This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.