Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
News & info
Workshops on access to information with local media
Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with the regulator, the Audiovisual Media Authority, started a series of training courses aimed to improve coverage of children in local media. In this context, three courses were organized respectively on July 15-16 in Elbasan, on July 21-22 in Shkodra, and on July 27-28 in Vlora. The training courses focused on improving reporting of children in audiovisual media. Participants were local journalists working in local televisions and as correspondents for national media. The main aim of the courses was to introduce journalists to the main topics, angles, and ethical considerations to have in mind when reporting on minors. Lecturers were professors at Department of Journalism, media experts and well-known journalists, and representatives of NGOs dealing with children issues.
Some of the main topics addressed during the course included discussion of new topics that have not been covered on children, legislation in place protecting children, legal issues to have in mind when reporting on children, ethical considerations when interviewing them, etc. Specific attention was paid to audiovisual media legislation requirements and the existing bylaws and regulations on coverage of children in audiovisual media. Participants discussed with lecturers specific examples and challenges they had had during their work.
Training courses on improving reporting of children
Constitutional court rules in favor of removing ownership limitations for national broadcasters
The Constitutional Court issued a press release on May 13, stating that it had granted the request of the Association of Albanian Electronic Media to abolish media ownership limitations in place for the national commercial broadcasters. The request was brought before the Constitutional Court on April 19 by the Association of Electronic Media, which argued that the limitation imposed is not constitutional, as it affects equality before law and the right to property.
This development comes after attempts made last year by MP Balla, and later to some degree also supported by AMA, which sought to repeal the entire limitations on ownership of media shares, namely Article 62 of the Law on Audiovisual Media. After clear opposition from international bodies, the Parliamentary Commission on Media rejected the proposed amendment. The current court decision paves the way for licensing of the existing commercial platforms in their form, along with the national broadcasters that also own part of the platforms.
Two articles from draft laws of the ongoing judiciary reform sparked the concern and a joint statement from four media associations. The Union of Albanian Journalists, the Association of Professional Journalists, the League of Albanian Journalists, and the Association of Electronic Media drafted and signed a joint statement on August 17 condemning the current proposed draft of provisions that affect media. More specifically, the concerned article was in the draft law on Special Anticorruption Prosecutor' Office and read that "every inappropriate influence exercised against special prosecutors and their activity on concrete cases by public authorities, media or in any kind of way and any other person which might have an impact on prosecutors' independence during their work activity shall be considered illegal and will be punished by law... This illegal activity is punishable by three years in prison". A similar article was contained also in the Law on Organization and Functioning of Prosecution' Office.
The four organizations in their joint statement expressed their concern on these articles, considering them "as an attempt aiming at shutting down free media and creating a censorship situation". They considered the articles as an open threat to freedom of expression and called on the parliament to remove the articles from these draft laws. The Chair of the ad hoc Parliamentary Committee on Justice System Reform, Fatmir Xhafaj confirmed that the articles would be reformulated in order to eradicate any doubts over the right to free speech. He explained that the aim of the articles was not to limit the media freedom but rather to eliminate any possible sources of pressure on this judiciary body.
In a meeting that took place in the parliament with the representatives of the four associations, the Albanian Media Institute, and BIRN Albania, three versions of the reformulated drafts were presented and explained, which were considered acceptable by all members present in relation to guaranteeing freedom of expression.
In July the Albanian Media Institute continued the series of workshops on access to information and local government in the framework of a project that aims to improve transparency and accountability of local government and local public institutions through a more active role of local media and citizens, supported by Lëviz Albania. In this context, four one-day workshops were organized in the cities of Berat on July 7, Gjirokastra on July 13, Saranda on July 20, and Burrel on July 26. Participants in the workshop included journalists from local media and correspondents for national media outlets. The participants became familiar with the rights they are entitled to official information by the law passed in September 2014 and how they could use it to the advantage of their work.
The training included information on the main aspects of the FOIA law, the rights of citizens in applying for information on official documents, and the obligations of state authorities to respond. More specifically, the participants were instructed how to draft information request in the proper manner, in order to avoid direct refusal of official authorities to grant information on grounds of a poorly drafted or invalid request. The next step will be testing of the practices of local government in responding to requests for information, which will be an effort to measure the openness of local government, as well as identify the weak links and good practices in this aspect of governance.
Survey on public broadcaster`s content and reputation
The Department of Journalism at the University of Tirana has conducted a survey on the offer and reputation of the public broadcaster RTSH, upon the request of the General Directorate of RTSH. The methodology used comprised several techniques, such as survey and interview with audience for RTSH programs, survey of public opinion in general, focus group discussion with experts, analysis of several aspects of RTSH work from journalism professors, interviews and survey with internal RTSH staff, etc. The findings of the survey were presented in an event organized on July 18, with the participation of academicians, RTSH staff, and respective civil society organizations. The representatives of the Department of Journalism considered this a study that offers numerous data and indicators that RTSH management can use in order to reform its program offer in order to become more competitive in the market as well as to improve its public mission.