I’m a journalist

GORAN MIHAJLOVSKI

That’s how on the 12th of January 1991 the first “Sakam da kazam” came out. And one more the next Saturday, and the one after that and so on…

I’m a journalist

In second grade I got a five in calligraphy. I don’t know if that had any influence on me becoming a journalist or maybe the second-place award I got in the former Yugoslavia for a poem I wrote on wanting to go to Mars. Of course, I didn’t reach Mars, but as a consolation they put me on a Yugoslav Airlines flight to Mostar. That was the prize. Plus, the airline gifted me a travel bag.
Who knows, maybe I made the life decision to become a journalist because the only four I had in my senior year of high school was in Macedonian, for a badly written essay exam. Stubbornness? I’m not really a stubborn person, especially when I don’t feel comfortable with the thing I’m doing.
Genes also didn’t have a role in choosing my career path. Both my mom and dad were civil servants and had little to no connection with journalism. Their contribution is probably the fact that every day they bought „Nova Makedonija “, „Vecer “ and the Belgrade daily „Politika “. Plus, we had this unwritten rule that we had to listen to the news on the state radio every day at 15.30, so no one talked during lunch.
However, I think I became a journalist because I was looking for a profession that would give me the opportunity to make a living without being tied to a desk and without a fixed work schedule. And it’s not only that I couldn’t see myself working a desk job, I really wanted something that would allow me to travel. And, here I am, a journalist. For now, I’m happy with my choice.
I was a post-earthquake kid raised in Skopje. Although I was born in Bitola on 24 November 1963, my whole life I’ve stayed somewhere in the neighborhood of Karposh and Debar Maalo. I did the calligraphy and the short poems on Mars at “Vera Ciriviri-Trena”, I got my undeserved fives in math and chemistry at the high school “Nikola Karev” and studied Interdisciplinary Studies in Journalism at the university campus of “St. Cyril and Methodious”. As early as the first year of my studies, in 1983, I started working as an intern in the student-run gazette “Studentski Zbor” in a prefab house which was located behind the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Karposh.
Actually, I’ve been a journalist my whole life. Ever since 1982, when I was doing reportages for the army magazine as a solder in the former Yugoslav national army.

With the President of the Republic of Macedonia Kiro Gligorov – 1995

With the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece George Papndreou – 1999

I earned my first official salary when I started working in “Vecer” Daily, in September of 1989. I got lucky that in that period, when the former country and the old system were falling apart, I had editors who were open-minded. I’m forever indebted to the editors Zlatko Blajer and the late Aleksandar Ivanovski. Mostly because they recognized my potential without any journalists’ vanity and entrusted me with responsible tasks. Before you know it, my titles ended up on the cover page of “Vecer.” And – that’s it.

SAKAM DA KAZAM (I WANT TO SAY)

Shortly after, Aco started giving me assignments to write an editorial for the Saturdays’ edition. That part of the newspaper, that third page on the right was a matter of prestige and according to some unwritten rule reserved for the big names in the media industry. I was nervous writing those editorials, because I thought I had to prove how smart I was, that I knew a lot of foreign words, that I wrote complex sentences, that I used professional political wording. But after some time, I realized that that manner of writing was not for me so I started writing in a simpler way, the way I talk when I don’t have to act all smart. The way that I, as a reader, would like to read. I remember I used to sit every Friday afternoon in front of my typewriter and a piece of blank paper and I’d think over and over again and I’d drink coffees in the cafeteria, I’d walk around the halls, I’d talk to my colleagues at “Nova Makedonija” and at the end I’d say to myself: Wait a minute, what do you want to say? Write it as you say it.
That’s how on the 12th of January 1991 the first “Sakam da kazam” came out. And one more the next Saturday, and the one after that and so on. One time when I told Aco that I didn’t feel like writing, and that I had nothing to write about and had no ideas he got mad at me and told me: “This is a serious newspaper and if you want to be a respected journalist, don’t you ever dare disappoint the readers. I can punish you if you’re late, I can reward you if the circulation goes up, sometimes you will repeat yourself, sometimes you’ll be amazing and sometimes not so much. I can even forgive you for not showing up on Saturday. But, the readers are ruthless. They don’t forgive.
So, every Friday, after more than 1.600 Friday afternoons, I sit in front of the computer screen, (back then it was a piece of indigo paper) racking my brain for what I want to say that I haven’t said before. How do I say it in a way that I would want to read it. To criticize without offending anyone. To praise without seeming like a bootlicker. And I drink coffees, I get up, sit down, make phone calls, fidget with pieces of paper, I get out “for a minute” to complain to my friends that I have no ideas, I keep bugging my coworkers that they’re not helping me, I call my wife a hundred times to remind me what we’ve talked about and if it’s worth writing about….
The column “Sakam da kazam” has lasted this long just because in a way it’s written by the people I’m around daily. My coworkers, close friends, buddies, acquaintances, but also strangers, people I meet on the street, at a store, at a restaurant… I fish for their ideas, catch what they’re saying, ask them to clarify, to repeat… I’m very grateful.

VEST

I left “Vecer” in 2000, although a year prior I rose to the position of Editor-in-Chief. The newspaper was state owned, so my hands were tied when it came to problems with not paying salaries on time. I couldn’t see a potential for growth, so working closely with a group of talented, young journalists I decided to start a new newspaper, “Vest”.
In fact, “Vest” was like an improved “Vecer”. I knew exactly what kind of newspaper I wanted to create – an open-minded, modern, taboo-breaking medium, a newspaper which would fight against hypocrisy and the small-town mentality, visually attractive, with striking titles and high-quality photographs.

Promotion of the first issue of Vest Daily with actor Igor Dzambazov – July 4, 2000

The first issue of “Vest” came out on the 5th of July 2000. The investor “Fershped” trusted me when I told them that I would create the newspaper with the highest circulation in the country. We reached that goal in 2005. “Vest” was a hit solely because it was done by a group of about 40 professionals sharing the same goal – to be different from the others and to uncover more than the common news story.

Protest with colleagues from Vest against political pressures – June 2015

Vest’s golden age lasted until 2012. The paper was a part of the German media group WAZ. The financial independence and freedom they provided to the newsroom as well as the opportunity to completely focus on my job helped me in creating a legendary staff in “Vest.” I’m especially proud of my personnel policy which transformed newly graduated students into respected journalists and renowned editors.

SAKAMDAKAZAM.MK (SDK.MK)

The team of Digital Newsroom SDK.MK

“Vest” had an inglorious end after the Germans sold the newspaper. Once the new owner, Orce Kamcev, stepped in, who was connected with the then ruling party VMRO-DPMNE, the brutal political pressures started and they were happening on a daily basis. I never thought that I would have to deal with an authoritarian regime that would abuse the freedom of professional journalism. During each daily briefing we would discuss how to “smuggle” an article which we were told not to publish, or how to stop an article which we were ordered to publish from not getting printed out. It was a daily battle to keep working professionally and not compromise journalism and most importantly – to save face at the same time.
At the end of 2015, I was fired by the management from my own newspaper. A year and a half later the firm filed for bankruptcy and “Vest” ceased to exist.
Not a month had passed from my leaving from “Vest”, when on the 26 January 2016 my column “Sakam da kazam” was published, now for the first time only on the Internet. And that is how the digital news portal SAKAMDAKAZAM.MK was born. At first we published solely my column, by tradition every Friday, and after few months we started publishing original journalistic content by my coworkers.
SAKAMDAKAZAM.MK (SDK.MK) is a digital newsroom which operates by the highest journalistic standards. We quickly became famous because we don’t bait our readers with click bait titles or information which hasn’t been fact-checked. We guide ourselves by the principles: Don’t steal content, check before you publish and don’t waste your readers’ time with nonsense.
In just five years SAKAMDAKAZAM.MK (SDK.MK) has earned the title as one of the most relevant media in Macedonia. It’s read by nearly half of the adult population in the country and is the primary choice of the public when it comes to trustworthy sources. I am especially proud that I’ve managed to create an original and quality media product, whose foundation is a local correspondent network and a group of capable professionals, without whom this company wouldn’t exist.

FOLLOW THE SUN

I love flying, travelling, planes and I love the wide limitless expanses. I was overjoyed when a friend of my dad’s, who later on became a very good friend of mine, Vanja Bitoljanu, gave me the chance to make the in-flight review for the first Macedonian airline, Palair Macedonian.

In-flight magazines of Palair Macedonian

The company, which was founded in 1991, before Macedonia got its independence, ceased operations in 1996. From that period of time, I have kept 3 samples of the review, which was complimentary for the passengers. The review was named „Follow the Sun” and it was made by famous journalists and photographers with me signed as Editor-in-Chief. It was published in three languages-Macedonian, Albanian and English.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS

Presenting of the Mito Hadzivasilev Jasmin journalistic award 2006 by the late president of the jury Vladimir Tulevski (1948-2008)

In 1992 and 1995, I received the “Krste Petko Misirkov” Award by The Association of Journalists of Macedonia, for my column, Sakam da Kazam.

In 2006, for the same column I received the highest national merit for journalism, “Mito Hadzivasilev Jasmin.”

I have also received the “Golden Ladybug of Popularity” Award five times for the most-read column.

Translated by Ana & Nikola Mihajlovski

Columns

EMILIJA AND MARTA

The complete deadlock over the EU enlargement caused by the Bulgarian veto on Macedonia was best explained in just a single sentence by the Bulgarian Vice President Iliana...

read more

GO AWAY!

 It doesn’t feel nice to listen to the recording in which Speaker Talat Xhaferi adresses some parliamentary clerks in an arrogant and vulgar manner. The command “go, go away!”...

read more

BLOCKED MINDS

How is it going? Just fine, it’s May already, spring isn’t in its full bloom yet, and we’re crossing out the days until the expiration of the ultimatum Mickoski gave to...

read more

BOOKS

SAKAM DA KAZAM

1991-1996

SAKAM DA KAZAM

1997-2001

SAKAM DA KAZAM

2002-2005

SAKAM DA KAZAM

2006-2010

SAKAM DA KAZAM

2011-2015