The Civic Lenses Project has reached a tremendous number of people exceeding all our expectations.
CIVIL has continued providing support and training to citizens interested in citizen journalism. We held more seminars and workshops than planned, with more participants than planned. We held seven regional seminars in Bitola, Veles, Strumica, Struga, Shtip, and Skopje, with 177 participants in total.

Interested citizens who didn’t make it to the seminars were provided the opportunity to attend one-day long workshops. We held six workshops for 6-10 participants in Veles, Bitola, Tetovo, Shtip, Gostivar, and Kavadarci, attended by total 51 persons.

In addition to the lectures and workshops conducted by CIVIL’s team (Xhabir Deralla, Sinisa Stankovic, Maja Ivanovska, Biljana Jordanovska, Dehran Muratov, Ermin Klimenta, Monika Taleska, Petrit Saracini, Marija Tegovska and several others), awarded citizen journalist and activists from different parts of the country, coming
from different communities, also held presentations, sharing their personal experiences with citizen journalism. Highly esteemed experts, such as Dr. Sasho Ordanoski, a communications expert and political analyst, as well as Aleksandar Novakoski, legal expert, and Petrit Saracini, media expert, as well as renowned professional journalists and camera operators have provided their expert support to enrich the training program of CIVIL.

Training program of seminars and workshops included introduction to the basics of the electoral system, human rights and freedoms, video activism, citizen journalism, news writing and practical field work. Furthermore, we extensively discussed values and ethics at seminars and workshops, drawing lines between sensationalism and
accurate, non-partisan, professional and ethical reporting.

You guess, it was not always easy to maintain objectivity in a country where protesters demanding justice and human rights were faced with heavily armored and militarized police force. Still, citizen journalists and activists trained through the project, were told to strictly follow principles of neutrality, to only present facts, and refrain from comments on what they report about. Otherwise, biased contents is automatically declined from publishing on the media platform of CIVIL.

Within the framework of the projects on early parliamentary elections monitoring, CIVIL has trained 300 observers. All of them were briefly introduced to the Civic Lenses Project and the ways of citizen journalism. In other words, this project has become part of CIVIL’s broader set of techniques and methodologies.

Citizen journalists’ contributions were thoroughly reviewed by CIVIL’s project team, in a process during which, unfortunately, many of them were not taken into consideration, as they did not meet the project criteria. We are not strict when it comes to quality of recording, but certainly are when we speak of contents and messages.

All the materials that fulfilled the project criteria and entered the competition, passed the procedure for consistency and verification of facts, most of which were checked on the field by a team of CIVIL. Selected materials were reviewed in detail by a three-member commission, which passed a decision on the five winning contributions within awarding cycles of two months. Most of the awarded contributions by citizen journalists, were influential and have prompted positive and supportive reactions by the public and the institutions.

Most of the successful videos and reports were published on CIVIL’s media platform, including the news portals (in Macedonian language), (in Albanian language), and on the project website (CLP stands for Civic Lenses Project, which is in three languages: Macedonian, Albanian, and English).

The project team and supporters of CIVIL have been very active online, mainly through the Facebook pages of CIVIL.
MK and CITIZEN.JOURNALISTS.MK, but also on Twitter and other online channels. Each event (seminars, awards
ceremonies, public calls, etc.) was preceded by creation of specific FB event, an e-banner, and other online contents.

All approved video contents are uploaded on CIVIL’s YouTube channel CIVIL.MACEDONIA, or Soundcloud audio channel CIVILRADIOMK. Recently, a new website is launched, to only publish video and audio contents, which is a new media outlet that will boost visibility of citizen journalists’ contributions:

All this was created to provide conditions and safe space for citizen journalists, but also for professionals, and enable
them to exercise freedom of expression and media freedoms in the country. Another, very important achievement of the project is the fact that many other media in the country continuously quote or republish media contents and information related to the project. National TV stations, newspapers, internet media regularly attend award ceremonies of CIVIL or just share our media contents on their channels.

Finally, CIVIL has provided trainings, awards, and safe space, but citizen journalists provided a creative drive to
the professional staff of CIVIL in return. Many stories that are published are actually based on citizen journalists’ tips and information. Researches and investigative reports are often inspired by citizen journalists’ activities in the field. We cannot be everywhere, no matter how mobile we are. It is the active citizens with a smart phone in their hands that provide the impulse for socially responsible media professionals.

This post is also available in: Macedonian