Saturday, June 17, 2006

Makfax, Skopje, Macedonia

In a rented office on the 17th floor of the state-run Macedonian TV building, the independent news agency, Makfax, is planning for the future.

Makfax aims to deliver 'unbaised, impartial and true coverage of the most important political and economic events' in Macedonia, and is the only news agency that covers issues in the three languages, Macedonian, Albanian and English.

It delivers that service to the majority of print, broadcast and online news outlets throughout Macedonia.

In its charter, Makfax says it is committed to delivering a service that is free from 'the state, political parties and related business groups'.

The latest project, in conjunction with the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (SHC), is to offer a free, reliable news service to 50 small media operations dotted throughout the mountainous country, which borders Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria.

Posing with the Makfax team in the newsroom. Makfax Executive Director, Risto Popovski is on the right.

These are media operations that might not be able to cover all sides of a complex region if it were not for Makfax and the SHC.

In its charter, Makfax says it fully rejects...
  • discrimination and inciting intolerance and hatred among people of different nationalities, race, language, religion, ideology, political or any other ground.
  • distortion of truth, forgery, plagiarism, insult, slander and all types of bribe taking.
We were a team of three, me, Tudor Lomas, who runs the development agency Jemstone, and Zoran Zivkovic, who organises media strategy training the length and breadth of the Balkans for the SHC and the Media Development Loan Fund, MDLF.

Tudor and Zoran working on the free, open-source, content management system, Campsite, designed by MDLF for use by independent media in transition and post-conflict states.

Our host was the Executive Director of the Makfax News Agency, Risto Popovski and his team of journalists. Zoran, Tudor and I will return to Skopje in the autumn for phase two of the project.

Client: The Makfax Independent News Agency
Media Development Organisation: The SHC