The NGO Info-center’s monitoring of the media coverage on the Census 2021 in the period 15 March – 2 April and 5- 30 September 2021 included nine media outlets (four online news portals and five national TV stations: Kurir.mk, Plusinfo.mk, Frontline.mk, 360 Stepeni.mk, MRT1, Sitel, Telma, Alfa and Alsat M).
General key findings:
- The media coverage differed in the preparatory and the Census-proper periods, both in terms of its quantity and quality.
- Compared to the pre-census period, the number of content items published during the actual census-taking period dropped for 31.5%.
- In the first monitoring period, the media coverage was dominated by political and party reaction, which amounted to 60.5% of the total coverage.
- In the September monitoring period, the information on the registration process took the lead (65% of all articles), while political reactions dropped to just 22.6% of the total coverage.
- In the preparatory period, the State Statistical Office (SSO) appeared as source of information in just 18% of the articles published by the monitored media, while in September, SSO was listed as source of information in 76.1% of the articles.
- Once the Census started, the reporting framework of the media moved towards reporting from the field on the actual process of registration.
- The government claimed that, in spite of certain technical difficulties and interruptions at the start, the Census proceeds forward without serious problems and at the planned registration rate.
- The pro-opposition media focused on the question if the institutions have the capacity to conduct the Census and there were attempts to question the credibility of the Census.
- Although the pro-opposition media offered frequent criticism of the government and the state institutions regarding the quality of the census process, they didn’t dispute the legitimacy and the importance of the Census.
- The pro-opposition media developed the narrative that “Albanian politicians were much more actively campaigning for the census of the ethnic Albanians in the diaspora”.
- Such narratives were accompanied, during the Census taking in September, by articles reporting on alleged violations of the health protocols in the areas with majority Albanian population.
- In the second week of the Census, articles of an alleged “mass boycott of the Census” appeared sporadically in the media. The attempts for wider dissemination of that particular narrative never gained momentum.
III Monitoring Report Census 2021