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Journalism Under Seige: An Investigation into How Journalists in Macedonia Understand Professionalism and Their Role in Development of Democracy

Spasovska, Katerina
Committee Members: 
Dr. Peter Gross
August 2011

Abstract: The financial decline of the traditional media; technological advances and 24/7 news cycles; and the rise of new media are transforming journalism in ways that are seen as problematic and leading towards less professional practices. In Eastern Europe this transformation tops off the still ongoing systemic transformation from communist systems, ongoing since the late 1980s.

This study examines how journalists in Macedonia perceive their profession today, what they consider professional journalism, and how they define their role in Macedonian society and democracy. Macedonian media system is fragmented and financially fragile, providing an opening for political and business influence. Foreign capital in the media market is limited and only present in the print media. The ethnic diversity of the country is reflected in the mass media, thus there are number of media working in languages other than Macedonian.

The research takes a humanistic approach, employing grounded theory. The researcher discovered five themes in the analysis of interviews with 32 participants: (1) Ideal vs. reality, or when journalists do not behave according to professional standards, even as they define them; (2) Self-censorship, as a rule; (3) The blame game, with older journalists blaming younger journalists, and vice versa, for the problems experienced in journalism; (4) Education, the acknowledged and ignored problem; and (5) Agents of change that cannot change anything, another exhibit of the tensions between the ideal and desired journalistic roles, and reality. These themes constitute the theoretical framework of journalism in transformation.