On April 25, the RESIS Institute held an online debate on the growing importance of community media in fostering civic engagement in local governance.
At the debate, it was argued that the strategic encouragement of the non-profit media sector, especially the domain of community media in the online sphere, can significantly influence the strengthening of local pluralist democracy.
Community media is a key element in the push for democratization and the rule of law because it gives public importance to local and marginalized topics important to local communities.
The strategic development of the community media sector has the potential to strengthen the power of local communities by decentralizing organizations that can create quality media content, opening up marginalized topics that have disappeared from the public sphere and therefore lost political relevance, will open to local journalists and civil society organizations a field for professional cooperation and employment opportunities and finally, it will cultivate participative local communities.
RESIS, which for several years has been cooperating with local organizations across the eight planning regions in the country, through the strengthening of the Network of Audience Councils, also promoted the pilot media of the Lokal Aktiv community active in the eastern and southeastern regions of Macedonia, which with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), for six months of existence, is already giving results, creating new energy in the civil sector in these local communities.
At the RESIS event, several representatives of relevant institutions, self-regulatory bodies and civil society organizations, members of the Network of Audience Councils, spoke in this direction.
Snezhana Trpevska, president of the RESIS Institute and Boris Sharkovski, president of LCDF - Shtip, spoke about the goals of the initiative to establish an online media of the local communities of the Eastern and Southeastern regions and explained the importance of the community media as the link that connects the actions of the civil sector with the relevant institutions and groups.
Zoran Trajkovski, president of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, spoke about the importance of the non-profit sector in media pluralism, as well as the position of non-profit online media, who also underlined that the Agency has been actively working for the last decade to create conditions for the development of this important media sector.
Igor Micevski from the RESIS Institute presented the online platform of the community media LocalActive and the function of that media to establish a system of cooperation between journalistic structures and civil society organizations and their constituents at the local level, which should lead to the establishment of pluralized public spheres in the local communities that would gain political relevance, creating pressure for institutional transparency and democratization.
Zoran Bikovski, an activist of the civil organization KHAM, presented the story, which was prepared by him, about an environmental problem in the village of Crnik in Pehcev. Although it is a local problem, it has a universal meaning - Bikovski explained that during the preparation of the story, citizens from the village who are affected by the problem, local authorities and competent institutions were also involved. After the publication of the story, he pointed out, there was significant progress in communication between citizens and institutions and a step was taken towards solving the problem.
Vesna Kolovska and Vane Trajkov, the journalists-mentors of the civil activists, explained the process of cooperation and the creation of stories, as well as the importance of the topics covered, which help in the lobbying of civil organizations and in the further creation of local policies. But they also talked about the complexities that come with this collaborative way of creating content.
The video of the entire event is available online and you can watch it at the following LINK.