In credible media content, it is a must that the produced video, photograph, text, or social media post includes the name and surname of the media professional or external associate of the media outlet who prepared the content. In some cases, especially when creating video content, professional media outlets list all involved individuals who participated in its creation — the journalist, cameraman, editor, narrator, etc. In cases where there is more than one author who participated in creating such content, it is appropriate for all of them to be listed.
This is especially important for media editorial teams that adhere to professional journalism standards. It is common for the names and surnames of the authors to appear at the very beginning or end of a specific text or photograph, while in video stories, it is usual for the authors to be mentioned in the final seconds or at the very beginning of the recording.
Professional journalism standards have only a few exceptions where attribution might be avoided. In rare cases, when a certain editorial team needs to respond to specific accusations targeted at them or provide clarifications for published media content that has sparked significant reactions among the public, it is common to issue an editorial statement in response, accompanied by explanations regarding such accusations and reactions. In the event of an attack or belittling of a media worker, it is also common for the journalistic text not to be signed with the individual's name and surname. Instead, it clearly states that the entire editorial team of the media outlet stands behind it.
In exceptionally explicit cases, when dealing with a specific text, video, or photograph of enormous public interest that reveals important societal issues, the author of such content may remain undisclosed upon its publication, with a clear indication within the published content that the editorial team is aware of the author's identity but is choosing not to disclose it. This exception can be applied solely when the author of such content is not a member of the editorial team, could be easily exposed, and might face severe consequences to the extent that the life of this “informer” could be endangered, especially in countries with non-democratic governing models. Journalistic standards in such cases allow for an exception.
Informing the public about the author behind the media content they read or watch is of exceptional importance. By providing the author's name and surname, the public can verify the author's credibility, their professional journalistic or expertise history, any shifts in their perspectives from previous publications, or satisfy similar needs, during, before, or after engaging with the content. It is crucial that the credibility of the person behind the text can be checked through signed autorship. If someone disagrees with certain content, any member of the public can react to the content by sending a letter to the editorial team. In cases where there are contentious issues regarding non-compliance with the journalistic rules prescribed in the Code of Ethics, one can request an assessment of the content from the Council of Honour at the Association of Journalists of Macedonia or the Council of Media Ethics of Macedonia. In some cases, the author may be taken to court for violations of certain legal provisions. Consequently, signed authorship signifies not only a credible text but also a responsibility to respect the established rules of the game in the journalistic profession or in accordance with the laws.
Conversely, media content lacking a signed author or bearing a pseudonym as an author, or featuring a non-existent author with a false name and surname indicated in the text, photograph, or video, serves as cases where we should begin to doubt the truthfulness, credibility, and expertise of what is conveyed in such media content. The least we should do with unsigned authorship is to question whether someone intends to manipulate us and approach the (dis)information presented in such media content with caution. What is important for us as responsible individuals in such cases is to further explore the topic, search the internet for other texts, photographs, or videos that may provide clarification, supplementation, or comprehensive data on regarding what is presented in unsigned media content.
Moreover, this practice applies not only to internet portals, television, and print media but also to social media posts on the internet. In fact, the danger of content manipulation is highest on social media today.Therefore, before reading a particular headline or watching a video, it's key to take a moment to determine who is publishing it. Do not trust profiles with unsigned authors or authors with non-existent names and surnames, as this is a way to protect ourselves from manipulation.