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Macedonia: Protests Against Police Brutality Continue

This post is part of our special coverage Macedonia Protests 2011.

Several hundred people continued the street protests against police brutality in Skopje on September 29, 2011. The Macedonian media largely obeyed the embargo on covering the protests.

The #protestiram hashtag continues to serve as the gathering “space” for Twitter users:

Skopje Macedonia protest September 29, 2011

Protesters marching towards the Court. Photo by Shmrkot, published under Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY 2.0)

Vnukot reported in English and Macedonian:

More than a month after the [last protest], street protests against police brutality in Skopje, Macedonia continued today. This time, protesters asked for the legal proceedings to be expedited [mk] in the case of the death of Martin Neshkovski, as well as the inclusion of all witnesses that stepped forward.

The protest at the end of September started at the same location – behind the Mother Theresa memorial house. Afterwards, the protesters went on to march on the streets of the capital. [A photo gallery by Shmrkot]

Unlike previous protests, this time the police forgоt that they have to stop all traffic on the streets occupied by protesters. A few close encounters occurred, but no conflict arose, due to the fact that there was no stopping for more than a few minutes at any location.

The protest moved from the Parliament to the office of the District Attorney, the Courthouse, over the Stone Bridge to Macedonia Square, the scene of the crime.

Protests against police brutality continue in Skopje, Macedonia from Dejan Velkoski on Vimeo.

Jovan Postolovski, a laid-off journalist from A1 TV, tweeted [mk]:

An “I told you so” moment, regarding the fact that only two TV channels–[Alfa] and 24Vesti–reported about yesterday's protest…

He refers to his post [mk] from June 12, at the time when protesters decided to not appear on the “anti-government” A1 TV talk show in order to avoid being labeled as pro-opposition alongside it:

There's a difference between the true reality and media reality. In the true reality you gather every day at 6 pm behind the Mother Theresa monument and protest through the streets of Skopje. You revolt against the murder and the cover-up attempt, and have been organized via social networks, without any political parties and organizations.

But this is the reality for several hundreds protesters, passersby, people who live in the streets you pass, the policemen that follow you, your families and friends that you've explained what you do, and the social media users reached by the protest calls. I cannot give percentages and numbers… the estimate might not be miniscule, but how many thousands it can reach?

And now… there's the media reality. And this reality is different with each media. If you watch some of the media, you won't know you've been protesting at all. On others, you see only short clips with politicians who visited the protests repeated over and over, and journalists claiming that the opposition organized the protests. There are media which report what you know… that several hundreds/thousands people gathered to protest against police brutality, organized via social networks.

And if the true reality reaches several hundreds people, this, the media reality is a reality for hundreds of thousands (with total potential audience of over 2 million).

If you follow the media you'll see that only a few of them relay the true reality. You are lucky that the most watched and most influential media outlet (A1) reports like this. On the other hand, you have the second (Sitel), the third (Kanal 5), and the fourth (MTV) most influential media… which create very different media reality.

If you want to achieve something with the protests, media reality is very important. If you equate all the media and refuse coverage of the protests or participation in studio shows (where you can better explain your demands) in a short while something will happen to suppress what you do, and the protests will either have very little or no coverage in the news.

[Note: Soon after Postolovski write this, the A1 stopped functioning, thanks to persistent efforts of various state institutions, from the Internal Revenue Office to the nominally independent regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications. Since July, the pro-government television stations noted above have dominated Macedonian TV-space.]

According to the Broadcasting Council's data on the registered media, 18 TV stations have national coverage and additional 59 have local or regional licenses, but as media expert and blogger Roberto Belichanec once noted:

Plurality of the media does not equal plurality of opinions.

This post is part of our special coverage Macedonia Protests 2011.

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