Macedonia is a European country “in transition,” and has much in common with poor countries from other regions in regard to online media development.
About 2 million people live in multicultural Macedonia: around 55% use the internet, and up to 34% use Facebook. Advertisers prefer traditional media: maximum nominal size of internet advertising market does not surpass EUR 1 million per year.
Lack of local e-contents remains a great obstacle to overall development of information society. Online publishing by state, scientific and educational institutions remains insubstantial. Faced with this void, internet users refer to Mk.Wikipedia.
Most of the web content is in Macedonian language, consisting of online versions of traditional media outlets, portals which recycle/translate entertainment “news” and gossip. Exceptions: several independent web magazines focused on culture or society such as Shine and Okno.
Macedonian blogosphere bloomed in 2005, when quite a few important blogs started, as well as efforts to establish an interlinked Macedonian blogging community. The crowning event of that year was opening of the domestic platform Blogeraj (v.1: blog.com.mk and v.2: blog.mk) with an interface in Macedonian language, which raised the number of bloggers from tens to thousands.
Between 2005 and 2010 around 50 K blogs were opened, and currently up to 5 K can be considered active. It is hard to estimate the actual number of bloggers. Many of the over 40 K blogs from the old version Blogeraj had zero posts – opened just to try it or to post comments on other people’s blogs. Topical blogs, blogs with multiple authors, and blogs in languages other than Macedonian are comparatively rare. The second most used language online is English.
Traditional media showed interest in these developments, viewing the blogosphere as a source of new content. Some newspapers even published short-lived sections on “editor’s picks” of interesting blog posts. Over the next few years, some prominent bloggers were recruited as columnists (and mostly quit blogging), and several books based on blogs contents were published.
Overall, the production of Macedonian blogosphere/citizen media stagnates, as shown during the last e-Society.Mk conference.
For instance, the quantity of new posts plunges after each elections (we had three since 2006), as political parties increasingly abused the blogs as means to spread propaganda and harass opponents (“if you are not with us, you are against us”).
Several new tools have been introduced recently as response to factors that demotivate bloggers by the private and the civic sector. In January, Blogeraj moved to WordPress as a way to overcome software malfunctions. Metamorphosis introduced the aggregator Ping.mk which enables both manual and automatic, RSS-based input of links, in order to overcome disconnectedness between the blogs, and to provide more feedback (visits, comments, votes) as a way to stimulate authors to write more and better – in terms of promotion of critical thinking. It continues an ongoing series of trainings for NGO activists to use topical blogs—via the platform Kauza.mk—and social media for advocacy, using GVO experiences & resources, among others.
In web development since 1995, blogging since 2003, doing research at information society think tank Metamorphosis. Check out the Timeline of Macedonian blogsphere 2001-2006 on his personal website.