About the research

The current research ‘Determining Political Harm Narratives’ (HARM-TIVE), which is carried out by the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) in collaboration with researchers and experts in the field of communications and media, journalists and media professionals, and with the support of the British Embassy in Skopje, is longitudinal (2023 and 2024) and has been taking place and is implemented in several phases/steps.

The political actors create and use narratives to shape the public opinion, ultimately influencing the political behaviour and decision-making. Therefore, they also use the media to promote their narratives. The goal of the media, on the other hand, is to adequately inform the public (and not just to report unquestioningly), to ensure pluralism of opinions, views and reported facts, the reliability of which should be checked before they are published. In an era of digitization, when the internet space has become a fertile ground for disinformation, inaccurate and/or malicious information, i.e. in an increasingly ‘polluted’ communication ecology, it is significant to investigate what the narratives of the main political actors in Macedonia are and how the different media report on them, i.e., how they spread through them. It is particularly relevant to investigate whether the political actors use harmful narratives and how they are reported by the media.

The research aims to investigate whether and how the political actors in Macedonia create, share and use harmful narratives, as well as which and what is the role of the media in reporting these narratives, i.e., whether they apply professional and ethical journalistic values ​​and standards.

The main research question is:

Are harmful political narratives created and how are harmful political narratives created and spread in Macedonia?

The specification of this basic research question is in the following direction:

  • How do the main political actors (political parties, leaders of political parties and ministers in the current government) in Macedonia construct/create their narratives that they publish on their official websites and on their official Facebook pages/profiles?
  • What is the prevalence of the harmful narratives in the narratives of the political actors?
  • Which topics are most often constructed harmful narratives about within the framework of the political narratives?
  • How do the media (television and news online media) report the political narratives created and shared by the political actors?
  • How do the media (television and online news media) frame harmful narratives?
  • Do the media (television and news online media) modify harmful narratives from the political actors? How?
  • Are there any and what are the main violations of the professional journalistic standards for fair, just and impartial reporting on the political actors and conveying their narratives?

The research covers two segments:

  • Monitoring and analysis of the narratives created and shared by the political actors in Macedonia,
  • Monitoring and analysing media coverage of the political actors and the narratives they create and share.

A key variable in both segments of analysis is the harmful narrative. Additional variables relate to the political actors and the media and media professional reporting.

While the analysis of the political parties and their leaders is focused on determining the dominant harmful narratives, rhetorical strategies and techniques, media monitoring should give an answer to whether the media adhere to the professional and ethical standards for accurate, fair and impartial information or, on the other hand, they unquestioningly follow the agenda dictated by the political actors.