1986 was an interesting year. We were finishing primary school, we had our first dancing squeezers (also known for our generation as tango) at the graduation party in the sports hall of the elementary school where I studied. Argentina and Maradona became world champions in football (soccer). Chernobyl happened.
Among other things, I remembered something else from that year. At the time I lived in Debar. In the spring, sometime between Chernobyl and the world championship in football, there was a rumor that an unknown dark vehicle with strange people in it, circulates across the town. The same vehicle and those peoples were associated with the supposed disappearance of children, who were allegedly hanged by their legs and cut so that their blood was drained from their bodies. That blood was then sold on the black market somewhere abroad. Normally, it all came out that it was a lie, but it was a good excuse for our parents not to let us out of the house after school.
During the military conflict in 2001 in Macedonia, more precisely at its beginning, we in Debar could only watch MRTV 1 and 2. I’m not sure if the third channel was received back then. My son was six months old, and my wife is not from Debar.
One day, the phone started ringing. My cousin from Berovo called me.
“Cousin, what are you waiting for, armed men have been seen just outside from Debar. Get out of there, run, you are welcomed at our home. ”
I say “It’s calm, there’s nothing going on.”
“Cousin I’m saying what I heard on one private television.” She insisted. “And the other private television confirmed the news. The information is accurate. ”
I called my friends and cousin who were in services in and around the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and everybody told me that it was peaceful, that there was nothing on the radio system and there was no registration for such things.
But after the twentieth call (from friends, my relatives, my spouse relatives, from Skopje, Strumica, relatives from Serbia …) my wife started to shake and panic. The situation in my home was that both, I and my parents, worked. However, we packed up and in the morning I took my wife and my son to the wife’s parents, far from Debar. Thanks to God in Debar there was almost no shooting, the city and its surroundings in one or another way lived normally, but the false news made me live apart from my family for few months. I’m not sure but I think that that year, in Macedonia, was the highest number of deaths from heart and brain infarcts.
We all remember the news from a few months ago for a vehicle that followed people in Skopje, kidnap them and then take their organs out to sell them on the black market of human organs. Unfortunately, those news coincided, accidentally or deliberately, with the period when two or three people went missing and some of them were found dead soon. There was such a panic among the people that I could not believe. I had even two or three grievances with colleagues and acquaintances about how the state (read government) is incompetent. How much crime increased, that you mustn’t leave your home alone and that children should be escort in and out of school etc.
I started this paper with a 33 years old true story. I want to say that the phenomenon of false news is not a modern thing and that such kind of news we’ve had in the past and there will be in the future. I can understand that this kind of news is something that would be normal in the show business, but in other spheres of life these false news are not very useful.
A man yesterday, through a conversation we had, wisely concluded that sacred books in all religions are not by themselves religion, but group of rules and regulations, according to which man should live, that is, live properly. It is the same with democracy. Among other things democracy is a system of rules and regulations, that is, rights and obligations that will prevail to all of us better life. We all are aware of our rights, but somehow our obligations manage to escape from our control, are they not?
During this time of political marketing, the false news became an everyday thing. You can no longer know what is true and what a deliberate lie. After all of that, press conferences happen; we can see concerned people on TV screens, calling for responsibility of one or another. But everything is for one goal and that is to come or remain in power.
I wrote the last time that self-control and self-evaluation, or self-responsibility, almost did not exist in our country. Please make a difference between self-control and self-censorship. This second thing is far, far worse. But I ask the creators of the false news to think about the fact that they are playing with human destinies.
As I know for all placed news in the media is required confirmation, as from the affected but also from the neutral parties in the story. Therefore, any news that has not been confirmed or denied by the relevant parties is not news for me and I treat it as pure speculation.
Yes, I was personally affected by false news, and some false news had influenced my life, and therefore I think that the one who produces false news should bear responsibility.
Let me repeat, democracy = rules + regulations, and I will add, appropriate penalties for disregarding them.
Please don’t get me wrong, I do not ask for the inquisition for each placed story, and putted news, but the appropriate associations of journalists, trade unions, media owners and others should establish a moral code or mechanisms for punishing the producers of false news. And let judge’s to rule with great outcome.
I want to say and to appeal that professionals and professional organizations in every field – vocation are the one that should be the first filter for the bad in its profession and in that way to produce future responsible people, and I assure you that the benefit of that will have an impact on all of us.
M-r Раде Чоловиќ
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