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News 25 Feb 13

Magazine Closure Fuels Concern for Media in Macedonia

After only one year of existence, the weekly Gragjanski, a critically inclined outlet, has closed as a result of financial problems, leaving another 20 or so journalists jobless.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The last edition of the weekly hit the kiosks this weekend with an announcement that the newspaper was closing as a result of financial problems. Some 20 staff members will lose their jobs.

“When we launched Gragjanski a year ago… we sincerely hoped that it would start to illuminate the darkness, foremost in the media. Today we face the defeating truth that one spark of a match only highlights the darkness around it,” the editorial team wrote in a farewell note.

In its short existence, the weekly left an impression of an outlet with a civic spirit, which nurtured analytical reporting about social issues, politics, economy and culture.

It was one of the last print media outlets left in the country that were critical of the government of Nikola Gruevski.

“The closure of Gragjanski is logical. It was too good for Macedonian standards,” the journalist Goran Rizaov wroter on twitter.

“If Gragjanski was a political party newspaper, it would have survived,” tweeted i999y.

Another tweet reads: “One more time, together with all of my libertarian fellows, I return to the media darkness, without any hope for a glint of critical thinking.”

The closure of the weekly comes at a time when expressions of concerns are being made for the future of media freedom in Macedonia.

The World Media Freedom Index 2013, published in January by Reporters Without Borders, ranked Macedonia in 116th place out of 179 countries in the survey, marking a hefty drop of 22 places from the previous year.

Just four years ago, the country was ranked in 34th place in the same media freedom report.

The European Commission, media watchdogs and local civil rights groups have all voiced concern over the state of media freedom in the country, after several critical media outlets closed in the summer of 2011. Others have closed or changed their editorial policies since then.

While some accuse the government of targeting pro-opposition media for their standpoints, the government has denied claims of interference.

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