For years, young people from multiple countries have been producing an international magazine from Skopje.
Seventeen years ago, the first issue of VOICES magazine was published from the center of Skopje. The idea was born in the medical school "Dr. Panche Karagjozov" after the military conflict in 2001. At that time, tensions between the cultures were still high and the school was concerned about the children would grow apart.
A connection was needed, Johanna Krautkraemer from VOICES told Skopje.IN.
For this reason, VOICES, which bears the motto "Magazine for all young people around the world", is trilingual - Macedonian, Albanian and English.
“Today, we are working on it (the magazine) from the office of Volunteers Centre Skopje (VCS). We publish VOICES online, and we print a few editions per year. Moreover, we expanded our activities to a podcast, VOICES to Hear”, Krautkraemer explains.
The magazine is mainly produced by international volunteers coming from Germany, Poland, Finland, France, Turkiye, and other countries who work in the VCS.
“We write articles, design them, and publish everything on social media. In addition, there are external writers who contribute articles as well", Krautkraemer says.
She explains that everyone is welcome to write for VOICES and adds that “you don’t need to be an experienced writer to join our team”.
Every month, they choose an editor, responsible for managing all the tasks and putting the magazine together in the end.
“Of course, the staff from VCS also supports us with all the tasks, whether in the organization, editing of articles, or designing”, she adds.
There are certainly challenges in producing the trilingual magazine.
“We are international volunteers, but none of the three languages is our native language”, Krautkraemer adds.
They write in English because that is the language they all learned at school.
The other languages, Macedonian and Albanian, are contributed either by external writers or by translating English articles, Krautkraemer adds.
“For me, writing in English is normally okay, even though I feel like my writing style differs from when I write in German. Sometimes, it is hard to be as precise as I want to be, especially in the tonality. For the other languages, there can be a lot of guessing involved; for example, when I publish in Macedonian and don’t understand anything”, she adds.
The topics are various, except for politics and hate speech. Krautkraemer says: “There is a lot of freedom and we just write about what we are interested in”.
They write about culture, sports, science, etc.
“For example, during the last two months, I wrote about elitism in ballet and did an interview about drag culture in Skopje”, Krautkraemer points out.
The feedback from their readers, both on the articles and the design, is usually positive, she explains.
“Sometimes it can also provoke a discussion about a topic, which is a great thing because it starts a conversation. Someone also told me that the magazine gives them motivation. Whether the topic of an article is about that or if it is just about passionate young people of any kind, there can be something that can be transferred to their real lives. I really appreciate feedback, both positive and constructive criticism. Otherwise, I would just talk into a void”, Krautkraemer is decisive.
Asked if she thinks that there is a lack of media space for young people nowadays, which is their primary focus, Krautkraemer doesn't think that there is no space, as she adds since media is more accessible than ever.
“There might be more space than before; the question is how we fill it”, she adds.
“Social media is overflooded with everything, it is not meant to be just for traditional media, like newspapers or magazines. It can be quite hard to gain visibility with a project like VOICES. Even though we are young people and publish an online magazine, it can be lost in all the noise. More established media houses have it easier this way. But there, I see an underrepresentation of young people. That’s why I think youth magazines can bring more perspectives to the media landscape”, Krautkraemer is decisive.
The entire content can be seen on their website: https://voiceskopje.org/