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Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 

As media coverage of election campaign improves, hate speech and 'whispering' campaign on the rise

As media coverage of election campaign improves, hate speech and

Skopje, 12 October 2017 (MIA) - Ahead of the October 15 local elections, an improvement has been noted in media coverage of the election campaign with unbiased reporting all the while it has been marred by hate speech and 'whispering' political campaign by the parties.

Also, a drop has been recorded in the number of attacks on journalists, however it cannot be perceived as having a guarantee to freedom of speech, it was stated at Thursday's debate on media coverage during the election campaign, organized by the Association of Journalists of Macedonia and the civil organization Onlimit Media.

Zoran Trajcevski, head of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (AAAMS), the improvement of media coverage - without having to make notable legal changes compared to previous election cycles beforehand - suggests that the media have the capacity and willingness for unbiased coverage.

Instead of being informed, people are being contaminated by the media with hate, according Xhabir Derala of the NGO Civil.

"Media control has caused a downfall of the political culture and it cannot be changed with only a couple of reports without any substantial changes. These policies cannot survive without having the support of courts. Most attacks have been triggered by hate speech prevailing in the media. Nothing will be achieved unless courts react on time," stated Derala.

The quality of media, he noted, drops proportionally with the quantity of hate speech.

According to Naser Selmani, head of the Association of Journalists, the number of attacks reported on journalists drops. No a single physical assault has been registered so far.

"Police have started investigating the attacks more seriously. However, there's a cause for concern because of 54 attacks, not a single attacker has been prosecuted. It demonstrates a clear policy of impunity. Only 10% of the cases have been fully probed and five charges have been filed. A policy of impunity cannot improve the freedom of speech," underscored Selmani. ba/14:45

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