Rachel Galloway

Her Majesty's Ambassador to North Macedonia

Guest blogger for UK in North Macedonia

Part of UK in North Macedonia

10th May 2021 Skopje, North Macedonia

Media Freedom

We have all faced challenges during the pandemic that have impacted on our way of living.  Media workers found themselves on the frontlines from the very start. Journalists, photographers, camerapersons while doing their jobs put their lives at risk, reporting on daily events to inform and protect the public’s interest.

Last week we marked World Press Freedom Day. I met local media organisations in North Macedonia to discuss media freedom and the importance of working together towards a free, independent media that will support open exchange of ideas, allowing citizens to push for change and for democracy to thrive.

Media Freedom is integral to democratic societies and essential to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Where journalists and media organisations are free to do their work safely, societies are more prosperous and more resilient.  People need free media to provide them with accurate information and informed analysis so governments can be held to account.

During the COVID pandemic, media freedom globally is in a state of decline. Journalists and media organisations worldwide face restrictive laws and punitive legal measures. There has also been a significant decline in the safety of environments that allow media professionals to do their work.

The 2021 World Press Freedom Index notes improvement for North Macedonia, but more needs to be done. Attacks and threats, particularly against female journalists, must be resolved by the relevant institutions and achieve judicial resolution.

Systematic solutions should be in place to guarantee an independent and free media sector. Media self-regulation and professional, ethical journalism is crucial in the fight against disinformation and fake news to safeguard media freedom in the country. Strengthening union rights and signing of collective media agreements are also vital.

These problems are mirrored in countries globally, and the challenges cannot be ignored.

Media freedom is a priority for the UK. We are supporting local media in North Macedonia through the Media For All Programme that is delivered by the British Council. Through this programme we are helping independent media to become more financially sustainable, supporting young journalists as they establish themselves, and providing a great range of training opportunities.

UK and North Macedonia have also signed the Global Pledge on Media Freedom, a written commitment to improving media freedom domestically and working together internationally.

We need to continue to work together and advocate for the safety of journalists and systematic solutions for implementation of quality media reforms which are necessary for good governance, open societies, justice and rule of law in the country.