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Newsletters Archive
AMI Newsletters             2006

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - Decemberr

AMI NEWSLETTER, January 2006


MEDIA AND CITIZENS DISCUSS ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A forum of media and citizens marked the start of a project called “Investigative journalism and access to information in Albania ,” aiming to assist journalists with better implementation of access to information law and investigative reporting. The forum took place in Lezha on January 25, with the participation of local media, local government, and citizens. The main aim of the forum was to get acquainted to the law on access to information and the manner the local administration implemented this law. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens' Advocacy Office, clarified the most important articles of the law, the manner it can be used by journalists, the general public and institutional transparency. After providing a brief history of this law from other countries' experience, he focused on the implementation in the country, including the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, Ombudsman.

Luan Dalipaj, Deputy Mayor of Lezha, focused on the work that was being done by the municipality for a better implementation of the law on access to information. He said that attempts to establish an office that would address exclusively this problem were under way. The present journalists also suggested some ways that would help a more efficient functioning of the office. The third lecturer, Lutfi Dervishi, a well-known journalist, after becoming familiar with the main problems journalists in this area face with regard to this law, gave some specific advice and examples that would improve their reporting for the community. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy. The project will continue with roundtables and training courses in other cities.

TRAINING ON INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM FOR LOCAL MEDIA

A training course on investigative journalism took place in Lezha on January 26-28, with the participation of representatives from local media. The issues addressed in the lecture of journalist Lutfi Dervishi were related to the different definitions on investigative journalism, the characteristics of investigation and the journalist's role in this process. He addressed the issue of writing a detailed investigation story, focusing on its planning. Specific steps included: picking the topic, planning the sources, searching, reporting, writing the story, checking the facts before publication, the actual publication, follow-up, etc. 

In addition, Dervishi conveyed a historical and international overview of the development of investigative journalism all over the world, bringing specific cases, such as investigation of the Al Cappone case, addressing the case and the manner he bought the newspaper that was accusing him, relations with journalists, etc. Focusing on the present situation regarding corruption in Albania , as cited by international reports, the lecturer offered ways of improving investigative journalism, such as teamwork, confrontational interviews, etc. He also discussed with the journalists the risks involved when doing investigative journalism, as well as the challenges it represents, such as deadlines, resources, legal problems, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy.

IREX RELEASES MSI 2005 REPORT

IREX published the annual report for Media Sustainability Index for year 2005 with reports on every country where this organization holds its activity. According to this report, the Albanian panelists engaged in the discussion on media situation identified as the main problems that Albanian media faces the lack of working contracts for 90 percent of journalists, non-transparent media ownership, low levels of professionalism, increased self-censorship trends, weak public broadcasting system, weak implementation of the broadcasting law, etc. However, on a more positive note, there are attempts being made for self-regulation of media community and amendments to decriminalize defamation law. Overall, the country has marked a slight improvement in the general index of media freedom compared to last year.


AMI NEWSLETTER, February 2006


BILL ON ELECTRONIC MEDIA PENDING IN PARLIAMENT

A bill aiming to amend the existing law on electronic media was proposed by the government to the Parliament, involving most media outlets in a vivid debate the whole month. This bill proposes to change the formula and composition of the regulatory authority on electronic media and that of the highest governing body of the public broadcaster, on the grounds that these bodies have been so far inefficient and politicized. This bill proposes to cut down the number of the regulator's members from seven to five, as well as reduce the 15 members of the Steering Council of RTSH to seven. In addition, the formula is different, aiming to elect professionals in these boards, abolishing the political balance formula enforced by the present law. This bill sparked a vivid debate among the media community, most of whom were concerned that such a bill should not come from the government, or the opinion of the interest groups whould be part of the amendment, as well. To this effect the Parliamentary Commission on Education and Public Information Means convened a hearing session of interest groups on February 23, in order to collect the feedback of the stakeholders in this law. Most of the speakers recognized the need to reform these institutions, expressing their dissatisfaction with the way they have functioned so far. However, in general demanded a guarantee that the amendment would lead to a better functioning of these bodies, which the amendment does not expressly guarantee. In addition, several formulas and proposals to change the amendment were brought before the Commission, which stated that it would reflect on the information it was presented with. The Commission drafted a resolution that stated the need to reform these bodies, due to their weak work and the dysfunctional manner they had worked so far. This resolution was drafted and passed in the parliament on February 27, without the participation of the opposition, which has presently boycotted its participation in parliamentary commission.

ALBANIAN SECRECY BILL THREATENS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

A bill aiming to amend the existing law on access to information was proposed by the government in early February. The bill—which is now before Parliament—creates a new category of classified information, called “restricted information.” According to a February 10 letter by Open Society Justice Initiative and the Center for the Development and Democratization of Institutions, the language of the bill is such that this category would include any information “whose unauthorized disclosure may cause harm to the normal activity of the state and the interests or effectiveness of state institutions.” The bill includes changes to Albania 's classified information regime that are intended to bring it in line with NATO's classification standards. However, the letter sent by these two organizations to the Speaker of the Albanian Assembly states that the bill's definition of “restricted information” is much broader than NATO's, and unrelated to national security matters. Hence, this letter seeks to stop passage of this bill in the parliament, claiming that if the bill passes the existing law would weaken even further.

NCRT ANNUAL PARLIAMENT REJECTED

The National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) presented its annual report for 2005 to the Parliament on February 20. Halil Lalaj, the chairman of the regulatory authority on electronic media, said that in last year NCRT has marked further progress in regulation of this area, focusing especially on the implementation of the law on audiovisual rights. Although he recognized the need to further fight piracy, he stated that progress was evident in the implementation of this law. On the other hand, he condemned the phenomenon of fiscal evasion, which has been present in the activities of a series of electronic media operators. Another problem noted in the report was the failure of national television stations to cover the percentage of territory as required by their license. This report was rejected by the majority on February 27, while the opposition did not vote. The report to the Parliament and its rejection took place in a climate of extended discussions on the government's proposal to dismiss the present regulatory body and the present Steering Council of the public broadcaster.

JOURNALISTS DISCUSS THE CHANGED CODE OF ETHICS

A group of journalists from the main media outlets in Tirana gathered in a roundtable discussion in Tirana on February 1, in order to discuss the changes made to the existing version of the Code of Ethics for journalists. The main aim of these changes was to update and complete the Code, in order to cover both electronic and print media. The new amendments also provided some specific guidelines beside the general principles of ethics, such as a section on accidents and disasters, separation of editorial content from advertising, elections, opinion polls reporting, letters to the readers' sections, plagiarism, etc. After brief presentations of the amended Code by Lutfi Dervishi, well-known journalists, and Ilda Londo, AMI research coordinator, the journalists addressed the changes that were made and how they fit in their everyday job and their working conditions. The general opinion was that the Code had covered many aspects of their ethical dilemmas, but suggestions were mainly along the lines that there were too many details in some sections and perhaps the Code was a bit ambitious against the backdrop of the journalists' working conditions in the country. Another concern the journalists raised was that of the lack of a mechanism to implement the Code, and the owners' and editors' greater influence with regard to self-regulation. Their suggestions were reflected into a newly changed version of the Code. This rountable discussion was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Casals & Associates, USAID, and OSCE.

ROUNDTABLE WITH EDITORS ON CODE OF ETHICS AND PRESS COUNCIL

Editors of the main print media and electronic media outlets based in Tirana convened on February 16 to make their suggestions and comments on the new version of the Code of Ethics and the possibilities of establishing a self-regulating mechanism for the community of journalists. Lutfi Dervishi, well-known journalists, presented the novelties of the new Code, including the changes that were reflected according to the journalists' opinions from the first roundtable. Gent Ibrahimi, lawyer, followed with his presentation of a draft statute of a self-regulatory mechanism. He explained briefly the manner of organization of this body, its funding method, the governing council, the members, etc.

After these presentations the editors gave specific comments and suggestions on manners of improving the Code, such as more accurate wording and need to further specify some concepts, or leave them out altogether. A major concern they expressed was related to the press council as a self-regulatory mechanism. Although they all agreed there was a need to establish such a body, their main worry consisted in the legitimacy of this body in a manner that the number of media that adhere to is as large as possible, in order for its decisions to enjoy a wide authority. After the discussions are reflected both on the Code of Ethics and the statute of the press council, the process will continue with other meetings with stakeholders. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Casals & Associates, USAID, and OSCE.

JOURNALIST MALTREATED BY LOCAL POLICE

Gerti Xhaja, journalist of the daily Gazeta Shqiptare, was maltreated by the police in Lushnja on February 18. During a routine control of the police in the café of his relatives, Xhaja attempted to photograph the police procedures. This led to the maltreatment of Xhaja, and his taking to the local police station, where he says that maltreatment continued. This act was promptly condemned by the Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, as well as by journalists' and human rights associations, such as League of Albanian Journalists, Association of Albanian Journalists, Forum for Free Media, Albanian Helsinki Committee, etc. For the moment the police officers identified as responsible have been suspended and an investigation is ongoing.

FORUM OF MEDIA AND CITIZENS ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A second forum of media and citizens continued the project called “Investigative journalism and access to information in Albania ,” aiming to assist journalists with better implementation of access to information law and investigative reporting. The forum took place in Lushnje on February 8, with the participation of local media, local government, and citizens. The main aim of the forum was to get acquainted to the law on access to information and the manner the local administration implemented this law. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens' Advocacy Office, explained with practical examples the essence of the law and how it can be used by journalists and the general public for a more in-depth and transparent reporting. Giving practical examples, the lecturer addressed the weaknesses and strength of the implementation of the law in everyday life, including the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, Ombudsman. Ristani also provided a brief history of this law from other countries' experience.

Maksim Kulla, Head of Human Resources at the Municipality of Lushnja , focused on the work that was being done by the municipality for a better implementation of the law on access to information. He clarified the problems that existed in the relations between citizens and journalists on one hand, and the city officials, on the other, briefly explaining the way of functioning of the press office. In his speech he also addressed the problem of meeting the citizens' attempts for information. The present journalists also suggested some ways that would help a more efficient functioning of the office.

The third lecturer, Lutfi Dervishi, a well-known journalist, after becoming familiar with the main problems journalists in this area face with regard to this law, gave some specific advice and examples that would improve their reporting for the community. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy. The project will continue with roundtables and training courses in other cities.

JOURNALISTS IN LUSHNJA TRAINED ON INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

A training course on investigative journalism took place in Lushnja on February 9-11, with the participation of representatives from local media. The issues addressed in the lecture of journalist Lutfi Dervishi were related to the issue of writing a detailed, in-depth investigation story. He addressed the issue of writing a detailed investigation story, focusing on its planning. Specific steps included: picking the topic, planning the sources, searching, reporting, writing the story, checking the facts before publication, the actual publication, follow-up, etc. 

In addition, Dervishi discussed on different definitions on investigative journalism, the characteristics of investigation and the journalist's role in this process. He provided a historical and international overview of the development of investigative journalism all over the world, mentioning specific cases. Focusing on the present situation regarding corruption in Albania , as cited by international reports, the lecturer offered ways of improving investigative journalism, such as teamwork, confrontational interviews, etc. He also discussed with the journalists the risks involved when doing investigative journalism, as well as the challenges it represents, such as deadlines, resources, legal problems, etc.

Another lecturer was Shkelqim Bylykbashi, Director of TV4+, who brought the local experiene in investigative reporting. He conveyed an overview of the media landscape in the district of Lushnja and focused on the financial opportunities and the willingness of media owners to investigate hot issues in this city. Examining specific cases of investigation from local journalists the lecturer and the participants discussed the techniques used in investigtions, along with the manners of using both official and unofficial sources. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy.


AMI NEWSLETTER, March 2006


MEETING WITH MEDIA DIRECTORS AND OWNERS ON CODE OF ETHICS AND PRESS COUNCIL

The directors, publishers, and owners of the main print media and electronic media outlets based in Tirana met on March 27 to discuss the new version of the Code of Ethics and the possibilities of establishing a self-regulating mechanism for the community of journalists. The new version of the Code was presented after reflecting changes suggested by two previous meetings with journalists and editors. Also, a brief presentation of a draft statute of a self-regulatory mechanism was made, including the potential manners of organization, its funding method, the governing council, the members, etc.

The participants were in general in favor of establishing a self-regulatory mechanism, judging that it was necessary in the present context of ethical violations. They also stated that the council should have as a broad participation as possible in order to work better. However, their opinions differed when it came to the punitive power of the self-regulatory mechanism. Some thought that the potential council should have more power than just a warning. Another problem some of the participants pointed out was that of the funding method of the organization, given that the journalists do not pay their membership fees in the existing associations. This process of discussing the establishment of a press council will continue with other meetings with stakeholders. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Casals & Associates, USAID, and OSCE.

OSCE SENDS ITS REMARKS ON AMENDMENTS PROPOSED TO BROADCASTING LAW

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media Miklos Haraszti addressed a letter to the Head of Parliament in Albania as well as to the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Media, with remarks on the proposed amendments by the government to the present law on public and private radio and television. The Representative expressed his interest in the steps taken to improve this area, stressing the fundamental importance of electing independent members in a transparent manner and free from government influence. Although the decrease in number of members as such is not that problematic, the legal mechanisms that will guarantee this independence should be considered carefully, the letter stated. According to Haraszti the proposed amendments have not entirely solved this concern and as such they should be further revised. The amendments in question propose to change the formula and composition of the regulatory authority on electronic media and that of the highest governing body of the public broadcaster, on the grounds that these bodies have been so far inefficient and politicized. This bill proposes to cut down the number of the regulator's members from seven to five, as well as reduce the 15 members of the Steering Council of RTSH to seven. In addition, the formula is different, aiming to elect professionals in these boards, abolishing the political balance formula enforced by the present law. This bill sparked a vivid debate among the media community last month, most of who were concerned that such a bill should not come from the government, or the opinion of the interest groups should be part of the amendment, as well.

FORUM OF MEDIA AND CITIZENS ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

The third forum of media and citizens continued the project called “Investigative journalism and access to information in Albania ,” aiming to assist journalists with better implementation of access to information law and investigative reporting. The forum took place in Gjirokaster on March 9, with the participation of local media, local government, and citizens. The main aim of the forum was to get acquainted to the law on access to information and the manner the local administration implemented this law. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens' Advocacy Office, explained with practical examples the essence of the law and how it can be used by journalists and the general public for a more in-depth and transparent reporting. Giving practical examples, the lecturer addressed the weaknesses and strength of the implementation of the law in everyday life, including the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, Ombudsman. Ristani also provided a brief history of this law from other countries' experience.

Second speaker was Altin Fortuzi, professor at the Department of Journalism, University of Tirana . In his lecture he addressed the issue of writing a detailed, in-depth investigation story. Specific steps included: picking the topic, planning the sources, searching, reporting, writing the story, checking the facts before publication, the actual publication, follow-up, etc. A fter becoming familiar with the main problems journalists in this area face with regard to this law, he gave some specific advice and examples that would improve their reporting for the community.

Petrit Beqiri, spokesman at the Municipality of Gjirokastra , focused on the work that was being done by the municipality for a better implementation of the law on access to information. He clarified the problems that existed in the relations between citizens and journalists on one hand, and the city officials, on the other, briefly explaining the way of functioning of the press office. In his speech he also addressed the problem of meeting the citizens' attempts for information. The present journalists also suggested some ways that would help a more efficient functioning of the office. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy. The project will continue with roundtables and training courses in other cities.

HEAD OF STEERING COUNCIL OF PUBLIC BROADCASTER RESIGNS

Kico Blushi, chairman of the Steering Council of RTSH, the public broadcaster, presented his letter of resignation on March 16, in view of the parliament's decision to postpone the request of the Council for the firing of the present General Director of RTSH, Artur Zheji. The Parliament decided it would consider the Steering Council's request for dismissal of Zheji after presentation of the annual report of the public broadcaster to the Parliament. This decision prompted the presentation of the letter of resignation of Blushi, who claimed that the public broadcaster is still hostage to the parties and government and has not succeeded in fulfilling its public mission.

JOURNALISTS IN GJIROKASTRA TRAINED ON INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

A training course on computer assisted reporting in the framework of investigative journalism took place in Gjirokastra, with the participation of representatives from local media. The objective of the training was to enable journalists to use the latest techniques of online journalism and Internet. Trainer was Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert at Albanian Media Institute. She focused on using Internet explorer as a source for reporting, introducing several search engines and information sites of relevance to journalists' work. In this context the main topics addressed during the training were online research, using and maintaining e-mail, advanced MS-Word skills, search engines, research methods, using tables and graphs, translation techniques, etc. The course was a constant combination of theory with practice and it followed the forum held in this city. The course also marked the completion of a series of fora and training courses on several cities in the country. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy.

MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES DISCUSS PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

A roundtable on presumption of innocence and media role took place in Tirana on March 15, with the participation of media representatives and human rights NGOs. The main aim of the roundtable was to draw attention to the importance of respecting the constitutional principle of presumption of innocence from media and other public actors. On a more general note, the concern of the organizers was also the preservation of human dignity and of human rights in general. The first speaker was Njazi Jaho, of Albanian Helsinki Committee, who spoke on the constitutional and legal meaning of the presumption of innocence. Afterwards Mentor Kikia, representing the Forum of Free Opinion, spoke on the media role and coverage when it came to presumption of innocence. The third speaker, Sokol Berberi, from the Center for Parliamentary Studies, addressed the issue of legal responsibility of state actors regarding presumption of innocence. The participants discussed then on the main issues that arose from the speeches. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, the Center for Parliamentary Studies, and the Forum of Free Opinion.

DISCUSSION ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF RELIGIOUS ISSUES

A roundtable on media reporting on religious issues was organized in Tirana on March 6, with the participation of representatives of religious communities and media. The main aim of this discussion was further awareness of media on the importance of religious issues and their complexity. The first panel of speakers addressed the issue of trends and problems observed in the media coverage of religious issues, including the perspective of religious communities. To this aim the speakers were Iris Luarasi, professor at the Faculty of Journalism, University of Tirana , Dorian Demetja, representative of the Muslim Community, Vlash Plepi, representative of the Orthodox Community, and Adri Nurellari, adviser to the Prime Minister.

The second panel of speakers addressed the issue of media coverage of religious affairs in the prism of past and present history. The speakers were Gjergj Sinani, professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tirana , Ferid Duka, Deputy Director of the Institute of History , and Henri Cili, director of daily “Standard” newspaper. After a brief discussion, this topic was also addressedby other representatives of religious communities and media, such as Gjergj Meta, representative of the Catholic community, Ben Andoni, deputy editor-in-chief of weekly ABC newspaper, Rrapo Zguri, professor at the Faculty of Journalism, Mentor nazarko, Director of Information at TVA, and Xhavit Shala, Director of the Institute of National Security. This program was organized by the USAID/World Learning Project for the Promotion of Existing Values of Religious Harmony in Albania , in cooperation with the Department of Journalism, University of Tirana

FILM FESTIVAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS HELD IN TIRANA

The first edition of the Albanian Human Rights Film Festival was organized in Tirana on 16-18 March at the Marubi Film and Multimedia School . The main objective of this festival was to raise awareness on human rights and especially children rights through brief documentaries, films, or other artistic works. The films also addressed the street children issue, capital punishment, Roma minorities' situation, racial discrimination, disabled persons, child trafficking, etc. The festival was organized and supported by the International Human Rights Education Consortium, the Albanian Helsinki Committee, Utica College, UNICEF, Albanian Human Rights Group, US Embassy in Albania, Albanian Media Institute, and Marubi Film and Multimedia School .

FORA OF MEDIA AND CITIZENS ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION CONTINUE

Another forum of media and citizens carried on the project called “Investigative journalism and access to information in Albania ,” aiming to assist journalists with better implementation of access to information law and investigative reporting. The forum took place in Vlora on March 30, with the participation of local media, local government, and citizens. The main aim of the forum was to raise awareness of the law on access to information and the manner the local administration implements this law, along with potential improvement. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens' Advocacy Office, explained with practical examples the essence of the law and how it can be used by journalists and the general public for a more in-depth and useful reporting for the community. The lecturer also provided a brief description of the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, Ombudsman. Ristani also provided a brief history of this law from other countries' experience.

Dhimitraq Furrxhi, Director of Education and Culture Department at the Municipality of Vlora , focused on the efforts the municipality was doing in order to better implement the law on access to information. He clarified the problems that existed in the relations between citizens and journalists on one hand, and the city officials, on the other. In his speech he also addressed the problem of meeting the citizens' attempts for information.

The third lecturer, Lutfi Dervishi, a well-known journalist, after becoming familiar with the main problems journalists in this area face with regard to this law, gave some specific advice and examples that would improve their reporting for the community. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy.

TRAINING IN VLORA COMPLETES PROJECT ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION LAW AND INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

A training course on investigative journalism took place in Vlora with the participation of representatives from local media. The tiopics addressed in the lecture of journalist Lutfi Dervishi were related to the issue of writing a detailed, in-depth investigation story. He dwellt on the issue of writing a detailed investigation story, focusing on its planning. Specific steps included: picking the topic, planning the sources, searching, reporting, writing the story, checking the facts before publication, the actual publication, follow-up, etc. 

In addition, Dervishi discussed on different definitions on investigative journalism, the characteristics of investigation and the journalist's role in this process. He provided a historical and international overview of the development of investigative journalism all over the world, mentioning specific cases. Focusing on the present situation regarding corruption in Albania , as cited by international reports, the lecturer offered ways of improving investigative journalism, such as teamwork, confrontational interviews, etc. He also discussed with the journalists the risks involved when doing investigative journalism, as well as the challenges it represents, such as deadlines, resources, legal problems, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Balkan Trust for Democracy.

DISCUSSION ON THE REFORM OF JOURNALISM DEPARTMENT

The future of the Department of Journalism in Albania was discussed in a roundtable on March 1, with the participation of academia, media representatives, NGOs, education experts, etc. The main objective of this roundtable was to consider the potential strategies for development of this branch and the models of curricula that can be adopted in view of the general university's reform and the implementation of the Bologna process. The main speaker was Dietmar Hertz, Deputy Rector of the University of Erfurt, Germany. Having in mind the European and American models of journalism schools, the main speaker proposed a change in the curricula that would be more oriented to professional skills, as well as completing the curricula by introducing a Master of Arts degree. However, some of the representatives of the Journalism Department expressed their concern, especially with the lack of stability of curricula, which led to a state of experimentation and confusion for the students. In addition, they said that the present infrastructure of the department should be accounted for, and cooperation with other bodies would be essential in order to change and implement the new curricula. This roundtable discussion was organized by OSCE Presence in Albania .

STATE ADVERTISING PUBLISHED IN SPECIAL BULLETIN

The notifications and advertising coming from government units from now on will be published in a special bulletin instead of going to print media as advertising, the Council of Ministers decided. These notifications, which include job position announcements, tender announcements and other information of public nature, will be published in two daily newspapers only the first day. Afterwards they will be found in a government bulletin that will be published on a regular basis and distributed all over the country.

LATEST DAILY NEWSPAPER EMERGES

“Shqip” is the most recent daily newspaper in the Albanian print media market. This paper contains 48 pages and is published seven days a week. Being the latest arrival in the market it takes the number of daily newspapers to 23, a number which includes two party newspapers, two economic ones, and two sport newspapers.

ICRC PRESENTS ITS ACTIVITIES TO MEDIA

The International Committee of Red Cross presented its past and future activities to social journalists on March 31 at an activity organized at the Albanian Media Institute. The main aim of this activity was to raise awareness on the activity of this organization and the assistance it provides in different fields and geographical areas. To this aim a series of leaflets and other informative materials were distributed to present journalists from the main media outlets in Tirana. Afterwards a series of questions and answer followed, where journalists asked questions on those aspects of work of ICRC that were of interest to them.


AMI NEWSLETTER, April 2006


AMENDED BILL ON BROADCASTING TO BE DISCUSSED IN THE PARLIAMENT

The Parliamentary Media Commission passed the amendments made to the Bill on Broadcasting, which will be discussed and voted in a plenary session in the Parliament on May 2. The amendments in question propose to change the formula and composition of the regulatory authority on electronic media and that of the highest governing body of the public broadcaster, on the grounds that these bodies have been so far inefficient and politicized. The final changes to the bill included the nomination of candidates to the regulatory authority from interest groups such as the associations of electronic media, print media associations, electric engineering associations, Chamber of Lawyers, and one from the parliamentary groups. The same groups would also nominate members for the Steering Council of the public broadcaster. This right also belonged to human and children rights NGOs and the National Cinematography Center . The nominations should be no less than two and no more than three for each member, and should pass in a consensual way by the Parliamentary Media Commission. This bill was passed in the commission without the presence of the opposition, which opposed these changes.

ALBANIA JOINS THE AUDIOVISUAL OBSERVATORY

Albania joined the European Audiovisual Observatory, the Council of Europe's information body for the audiovisual industries, based in Strasbourg . In an interview given to one of the Albanian televisions Mr.Wolfgang Closs, the Observatory's Executive Director, welcomed this new country on behalf of all the Observatory's members. He stated that Albanian media authorities and the Albanian professionals would now benefit from the reports, facts and figures provided by the Observatory in the fields of television, cinema, video/DVD and multimedia. Closs also expressed the hope that this information would provide the Albanian audiovisual sector with a solid European context in which to plan its strategic developments for the future.

SEMINAR ON IMPROVING REPORTING ON RELIGION

A two-day seminar took place in Albanian Media Institute premises on April 19-20 on the topic of Improving Religion Reporting in Albanian media, with the participation of 35 journalists, from both print and electronic media, from the capital and the main districts in the country. The agenda of the program was an intensive one, including lecturers from the civil society, experienced journalists and columnists, and representatives of the religious communities in Albania .

First lecturer was Ledio Bianku, international law expert. In his lecture he focused on different facets of freedom of expression as related to religion, such as the pluralist concept of freedom of opinion; pluralism demanding tolerance in the relations of individuals and communities with each other; and plurality and tolerance that seeks a legal regulation for preserving the social equilibria in a democratic society. Second speaker was Virgjil Kule, journalist, World Learning. He presented an analysis of media coverage of religious problems, interreligious issues and relations government-religion in the period December 2005 – April 2006. The monitoring focused on the statistical figures on articles published in print media. He concluded that there is a large number of articles on religious issues and there is a vivid public interest in this regard.

Next lecturer was Artan Fuga, Professor at University of Tirana , who addressed the issue of alternative faiths and religion, the present situation in the country and the media role in this regard. The concept of religious tolerance compared to religious harmony in the area of religion was another feature that was examined in his lecture. Afterwards, Piro Misha, Director of Book and Communication House and well-known analyst, provided a historical overview of the religious affiliation of Albanians. He paid attention to the situation of religion during the Communist period and its aftermath. Afterwards he focused on the secular nature of Albanian state and the separation of religion from the public sphere.

In the end, a discussion panel was organized with representatives of religious communities and journalists. After each of them made an official introduction of the relations each community has with the media, this panel was organized as a discussion and debate of representatives of religious communities and the participating journalists. The seminar was organized in the framework of the project implemented by World Learning for International Development and the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of USAID.

SEMINAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING

A training course on human rights reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on April 10-12, with the participation of 12 journalists from Tirana-based print and electronic media. The main objective of the course was to introduce social journalists to different facets of human rights issues, in order to improve their reporting skills in this regard. First lecturer was Gent Ibrahimi, lawyer and Director of the Institute of Legal and Public Studies, who focused on the question of freedom of expression, the general international standards and Albanian ones, on freedom of information, the Albanian legislation provisions in this regard, and their implementation. The other lecturer was Ledio Bianku from the European Center . In his lecture he focused on human rights, the concept they entail and its evolution, and more specifically on the European Convention for Human Rights and Albanian state's obligations in this regard. The last lecturer was Xhezair Zaganjori, member of the Constitutional Court . He discussed the European Court of Human Rights, its role and functions, bringing specific Albanian cases in order to have a practical discussion with the participants. This training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Tirana.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING ON INTERVIEWING

Interviewing techniques training was the topic of the professional skills training that took place at the Albanian Media Institute on April 10-14, with the participation of 15 print journalists from Tirana and other cities. The main objective of the course was to provide journalists with advanced professional skills regarding interviewing techniques, since this is the basic everyday work done by journalists. Trainer was Benet Koleka, Reuters correspondent and professor at the Faculty of Journalism.

In the course he guided the participants through the main steps involved in the process, such as researching the topic or interviewee, determining the main lines of the interview, as well as prepare for unexpected course of the interview or risks that might come up. The kinds of questions asked, the background of the interview, importance of body language, and warning to avoid personal convictions were some other topics covered during the course. Journalists also had sessions of reporting on field, where they were able to practice and improve the skills learned in the course. This course marked the beginning of a project aimed at improving professional skills of journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Network Media Program.

PUBLIC BROADCASTER SUBMITS ANNUAL REPORT TO PARLIAMENT

RTSH, the Albanian public broadcasting service, presented the 2005 annual report of activities to the Parliamentary Media Commission on April 18. According to this report the public broadcaster is not competitive vis-à-vis the major commercial players in the broadcasting market at the moment. The deputy head of the RTSH Steering Committee stated that the public broadcaster has not had the necessary development to face up to the challenge posed by its commercial competitors, adding that RTSH was not always able to fulfill its public mission as stipulated in the law. One major issue discussed at the meeting was also the payment of debts third persons owe to RTSH, a debt that has been accumulated and not paid, adding to the already difficult financial of the public broadcaster.

MINORITY MEDIA ARE TRAINED ON NEW TECHNOLOGY

A training course on media and new technology marked the beginning of a follow-up project on minority media. The training was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on April 26-28, with the participation of journalists from minority media. They represented journalists and activists from the Greek, Macedonian, Roma, and Vlach minorities. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants to the basic skills of new technologies and how this could help them in reporting for their community. Trainer was Mitrulla Thodhori, IT engineer. After receiving feedback on the greatest needs of the participants in this regard, the course was tailored accordingly. Some of the main topics addressed were the advance of new technologies and their impact and assistance to media in general, Internet and main media websites, catalogues, databases, their usage in reporting for the community. Special attention was paid to digitalization of pictures, sound, and video, usage of digital photos, and to different kinds of online media. The participants were encouraged to constantly test the knowledge gained in practice. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

2005 EDITION OF “ALBANIAN MEDIA MONITOR” IS PUBLISHED

Albanian Media Monitor 2005” came out this month, monitoring the most important trends, phenomena, and events of the Albanian media for 2005. This book contains several reports, observations, documents and laws related to media developments that took place last year, such as a calendar of media events, reports on television developments and trends, on the regulatory authority of electronic media, the recent debates on media situation and on the court cases involving media representatives. This publication features also some research on television and its independence in the country, a study on the union of journlists, the annual report of the National Council of Radios and Televisions, the developments with the Albanian public service broadcaster, as well as a report on media ethics. The book was published by the Albanian Center of Media Monitoring with the support of UNESCO.


AMI NEWSLETTER - May 2006


AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON BROADCASTING APPROVED BY THE PARLIAMENT

The amendments to the law on broadcasting, related to the change of formula for members of the regulatory authority on electronic media and the Steering Council of public broadcaster passed in the Parliament on May 12. The amendments in question propose to change the formula and composition of the regulatory authority on electronic media and that of the highest governing body of the public broadcaster, on the grounds that these bodies have been so far inefficient and politicized. The final changes to the bill included the nomination of candidates to the regulatory authority from interest groups such as the associations of electronic media, print media associations, electric engineering associations, Chamber of Lawyers, and one from the parliamentary groups. The same groups would also nominate members for the Steering Council of the public broadcaster. This right also belonged to human and children rights NGOs and the National Cinematography Center . The nominations should be no less than two and no more than three for each member, and should pass in a consensual way by the Parliamentary Media Commission.

The formula for the Steering Council of public broadcaster is similar, except that seven members will be elected, and there is also a representative of the government and one from the faculty staff of the University of Tirana . In the meantime, the Parliament has suspended the members of both the regulatory authority and Steering Council, while the law pends to be decreed by the President. The law passed without the voting of the opposition, which proposed a formula that was based on political bipartisanship in both bodies.

In addition, a new amendment was passed on this law, which excludes the owners of television companies from public tenders. The so-called Lesi amendment has been pending in the parliament for more than a year, and its main aim is to eliminate any possible relation between public tenders for media owners and favorable media coverage on the government by the respective media. This amendment is expected to apply for print media, as well, after a new discussion and voting.

REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON DIGITAL TELEVISION

A regional conference on the topic “Digital television in Central and Eastern Europe : policies, development, and public debate,” took place in Tirana on May 26-27. Participants included media experts, researchers, and regulatory authorities' representatives from countries of Central and Eastern Europe , as well as from some West European countries. The aim of the conference was to discuss the main issues of switchover to digital television, its advantages and problems, the impact on general public, and state intervention in this field. Some of the main topics addressed in the course of the event were the distribution of media content in the digital era, the public debate on digital switchover, legal regulation versus competitive market, the technical infrastructure an an opportunity and threat for competition, as well as the impact of digital switchover on the media landscape. The discussions evolved around the way digital switchover will affect the public and the media scene, accessibility of content, diversity of services, the new emerging business models, government policies, European experience, etc. In addition to distinguished speakers, researchers from each of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that were present, introduced the situation of digital television development, as well as ongoing policies and public debate in their countries. This conference was organized by the Albanian Media Institute in the framework of activities of the South East Network for Professionalization of the Media (SEEENPM.)

WORKSHOP ON TESTING ACCESS TO INFORMATION LAW

A workshop on testing access to information law in assisting reporters took place at the Albanian Media Institute on May 17-18, with the participation of eight journalists from mainstream print media. This workshop marked the start of a new project called “The role of Albanian Media in improving implementation of access to information law.” The aim of the workshop was to introduce journalists to this law and ways of receiving official information, as well as the reaction of state institutions in meeting these requests for information. This information will be tested in practice, since the participants have filed requests on information in different areas. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens' Advocacy Office, explained with practical examples the essence of the law and how it can be used by journalists and the general public for a more in-depth and transparent reporting. Giving practical examples, the lecturer addressed the weaknesses and strength of the implementation of the law in everyday life, including the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, etc. Ristani also provided a brief history of this law from other countries' experience. Artur Lazebeu, spokesperson at the Ombudsman's Office, briefed the participants on the work of the Ombudsman's Office in raising awareness on the law and monitoring its implementation in practice. He also presented the main complaints received by the people in the office, and the procedure they followed in each of the cases.

Third speaker was Lutfi Dervishi, well-known journalist, who spoke on the manner of implementation of the law in everyday reporting, especially in the context of investigative stories. Bringing specific cases, he instructed the participants on drafting a request for information and following the steps to construct an investigative story with the information gathered. Afterwards, the participants discussed and determined story ideas for investigative reporting that would include requesting information from state institutions. The filing of these requests and the ensuing procedures will constitute a test both on journalist's application of the law in investigating, as well as on the authorities' implementation of the law. The workshop was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

MANAGEMENT TRAINING FOR GREEK MINORITY NEWSPAPERS

A training course on managing a local minority newspaper was organized in Gjirokastra on May 4-6, with the participation of 12 editors, directors, and managers of Greek minority newspapers, located in Gjirokastra and Saranda. This training responded to a needs assessment survey carried out last year among minority media outlets, where management training ranked among the top priorities. Trainer Iris Luarasi, professor at the Department of Journalism, University of Tirana , explained the role of manager, what makes a good manager, and definition of the mission statement of an organization. Marketing strategies, tactics, and action plans were other topics. The participants were introduced to more practical and specific steps of their work, such as conducting an efficient meeting, main keypoints in conducting staff meetings and developing strategic planning. In the last day the participants were introduced to the notion of benchmarking and to SWOT analysis, which they practiced by dividing in workgroups. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

IMPROVING REPORTING ON THE BALKANS

A two-day training course started on May 31 marked the start of the project “Improving international affairs reporting in Albanian media.” The project will include a series of courses on different topics in international affairs. The project started with introduction of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Tirana, His Excellency Mr. Hans Peter Annen. The topic of the first course was related to reporting on the Balkans and their process of integration in the EU. First speaker was Ilir Meta, ex-Prime Minister and currently head of the Socialist Movement for Integration. In his lecture he briefed the 15 participants on the recent history of relations with neighboring countries, with an emphasis in the context of developments in Serbia and Kosovo. Stressing the fragile balance of these relations, the lecturer also addressed the EU policies on integration of the Balkan countries, concluding that Albania was lagging behind the other countries in this process. He explained the outcome of the summits in Thessaloniki and Strasbourg and their impact in integration, which is also slowed down by other factors, such as events after 9/11, energy problems, relations with Russia , etc. Finally, he tackled the issue of the unresolved status of Kosovo and that of Bosnia , which have their own impact in EU integration.

Second speaker was Rexhep Mejdani, ex-President of Albania , who provided a history of the Balkans and his view on the prospective that awaits the peninsula. His overview of the history included the notion of the nation state since the Treaty of Westphalia, the rise of nation states, explaining the main elements that hold together this entity, such as language, religion, ethnicity, and culture. In his lecture Mejdani distinguished positive patriotism from nationalistic chauvinism, providing different concepts of the nation. Then he explained the process of establishment of Balkan states after the dismantling of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, following with the death of Jugoslavia and its impact on the Balkans to our present day. The lecturer then discussed with the participants the ramifications of the distant and recent history in the future status of the peninsula. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany .

COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING AND ONLINE JOURNALISM TRAINING

A training course on Computer Assisted Reporting and online journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on May 2-6, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of computer assisted reporting, as well as provide them with the basic knowledge in online journalism. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, presented the participants to CAR methodology, its present development, and the main tools used in this regard, mainly using Internet efficiently as an information source in reporting. In her lecture she focused on search engines in Enternet and their specific features, catalogues and databasis, the diverse search strategies, and the practical usage of Internet in today's reporting. Other topics included advanced usage of MS Office packange and e-mail, working with tables and collection and selection of data, charts, etc. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainer provided practical examples for the participants. Finally, participants were introduced to and tested online journalism and its main elements. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

MEETING WITH ANALYSTS ON CODE OF ETHICS AND PRESS COUNCIL

A meeting with the most distinguished analysts of Albanian media took place on May 19, in order to discuss the recent changes to the Code of Ethics of Albanian journalists and the possibility of establishing a press council or some form of self-regulatory mechanism. The new version of the Code was presented after reflecting changes suggested by three previous meetings with journalists, editors, and media owners and managers. Also, a brief presentation of a draft statute of a self-regulatory mechanism was made, including the potential manners of organization, its funding method, the governing council, the members, etc. Afterwards, the participants expressed their opinions on the potential plan to establish a self-regulatory mechanism. These ideas will be reflected in a final meeting with the participation of all stakeholders in this area. This meeting was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Casals & Associates, USAID, and OSCE.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING TRAINING COURSE

A training course on investigative journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on May 8-12, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. The topics addressed in the lecture of journalist Lutfi Dervishi were related to the investigative role of the journalist, presenting different methods of gathering information. He also provided a brief history of investigative journalism, bringing practical examples both from Albania and abroad. Further on, the lectures continued with instruction on how to draft and follow an investigative story, including both advantages and risks of this genre of journalism. Part of the lectures involved an introduction to the Law on Access to Information and how it helps investigative journalists, as well as a brief introduction to the code of investigative reporting. Finally, the trainer addressed the topic of computer assisted investigative reporting, safe sources of information, using databases and search engines, etc. The course was a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical examples, enabling the participants to test the knowledge they gained. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

COURSE ON CORRUPTION REPORTING

A training on reporting on corruption was held at the Albanian Media Institute on May 29-31, with the participation of print and electronic Tirana-based media journalists. Given the pervasive phenomenon that corruption constitutes in Albanian life, public debate, and hence media coverage, the course introduced journalists with information on the main areas of corruption and on different angles of reporting on it. Lecturers were Artan Hoxha, from Institute of Contemporary Studies, Fatbardh Kadilli, adviser to the Council of Ministers on anti-corruption policies, and Blendi Kajsiu, analyst. The speakers presented the participants with the main trends of corruption in the country, the most recent international reports on the situation, the government efforts and plans to stall this phenomenon, the different angles and phenomena that media coverage can cover in this respect, etc. This training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Tirana.

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM TRAINING

A training course on investigative journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 22-24, with the participation of 15 journalists, five of whom were from local media. The course aimed at training journalists in the main investigative methods, tools, and skills. In this regard, some of the main issues addressed were the concept of an investigative story and its planning, the differentiation of sources of information, interviewing techniques, ethical dilemmas in writing a story, etc. Another topic the participants were introduced to was the law on access to information and its use in practice when writing an investigative report, filing requests and searching for information. In addition, trainer Lutfi Dervishi also tackled the law on information classified as state secret, its main provisions and their impact in reporting when asking information from the authorities. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

WORKSHOP ON MIGRATION AND TRAFFICKING

A workshop titled “Messages on Migration and Counter Trafficking” took place in Tirana on 18-19 May, with the participation of media outlets, journalists, government representatives, civil society activists, etc. This workshop was organized after a needs assessment survey and aimed to discuss the first steps needed in launching a public information strategy and get the media on board as a partner on disseminating the ideas behind these issues. The importance of this topic was addressed in the opening words by His Excellency Mr. Richard Jones, Ambassador of United Kingdom in Tirana, Mr. Maurizio Bussati, Head of Mission, IOM Tirana, and Ms. Iva Zajmi, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Albania. The main speakers included International Organization on Migration staff, who tackled the main points in the area based on their experience in the country and abroad. The participants then worked in different groups in order to determine the best steps and procedures to be taken in drafting and disseminating a public information campaign. This activity was organized by IOM and Albanian Media Institute, with the support of British Embassy in Tirana.


AMI NEWSLETTER, June 2006


AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON BROADCASTING APPROVED BY THE PARLIAMENT for the second time

The amendments to the law on broadcasting, related to the change of formula for members of the regulatory authority on electronic media and the Steering Council of public broadcaster passed in the Parliament for the second time on June 26. This law was returned to the Parliament by the President, who decided not to decree the law, due to some anti-constitutional provisions he claimed the law had. The opposition is firm in its stance to reject this law, while the majority repeated its guarantee that nominations from the opposition will be voted by the majority. In addition to parliament discussions, the amendments to this law were also discussed in a meeting of negotiating work group in Brussels .

The amendments in question propose to change the formula and composition of the regulatory authority on electronic media and that of the highest governing body of the public broadcaster, on the grounds that these bodies have been so far inefficient and politicized. The final changes to the bill included the nomination of candidates to the regulatory authority from interest groups such as the associations of electronic media, print media associations, electric engineering associations, Chamber of Lawyers, and one from the parliamentary groups. The same groups would also nominate members for the Steering Council of the public broadcaster. This right also belonged to human and children rights NGOs and the National Cinematography Center . The nominations should be no less than two and no more than three for each member, and should pass in a consensual way by the Parliamentary Media Commission.

The formula for the Steering Council of public broadcaster is similar, except that seven members will be elected, and there is also a representative of the government and one from the faculty staff of the University of Tirana . In the meantime, the Parliament has suspended the members of both the regulatory authority and Steering Council, while the law pends to be decreed by the President. The law passed without the voting of the opposition, which proposed a formula that was based on political bipartisanship in both bodies.

In addition, a new amendment was passed on this law, which excludes the owners of television companies from public tenders. The so-called Lesi amendment has been pending in the parliament for more than a year, and its main aim is to eliminate any possible relation between public tenders for media owners and favorable media coverage on the government by the respective media. This amendment is expected to apply for print media, as well, after a new discussion and voting.

REPORTING ON EU TRAINING

The second training course aimed at improving international affairs reporting addressed reporting on EU affairs and took place on June 22-23, with the participation of fifteen journalists from print and electronic mainstream media. The first lecturer was Ledio Bianku, international right expert, the European Center . His main focus was EU and Albania 's path to integration, in view of the recent signing of the Stabilization Association Agreement from Albania , with the respective obligations that follow from this act. He started with a brief description of the EU legal foundations, with an emphasis on the concept of sovereignity. Another topic addressed in the course of the training was Euro as a common currency, its positive and negative effects. Finally, EU structures and their coordinating role constituted another topic of discussion, in view of the new obligations Albanian government faces after signing the SAA. Discussed new measures included the efforts to harmonize the Albanian legislation and the coordinating role and function of the Ministry of Integration.

The second lecturer was Albert Rakipi, Director of the Institute of International Relations , who focused on main aspects of EU since its establishment, providing a brief history. On another level, Rakipi addressed the issue of values of European Union. One of the main ideas was that EU was a unique market, but not a unique cultural identity. Another aspect addressed in the course of the lecture was EU enlargement with members from Central and Southeastern Europe , focusing on their problems in the different membership stages, comparing them to the range of problems of our countries. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany .

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON ROMA

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 19-23, with the participation of eight journalists from both mainstream and local media. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Panorama.” The supplement focused on issues of Roma minority reporting and their coverage by both minority and mainstream media. The participants worked as a team and covered different stories addressing topics related to the Roma minority, their living conditions, the economic problems they experience, the existing statistics of Roma minority, government strategy on Roma, profiles of successful Roma people, etc. In order to assist their reporting, three key speakers were invited to address this topic: Lindita Xhillari from the Center for Promotion of Human Development, focused on the situation of minorities in Albania and introduced the main trends deriving from research their center has completed in this area. The second key speaker was Ledi Bianku, international rights expert, who addressed the existing legislation on minorities and their rights. Third speaker was Blendi Kajsiu, analyst, who presented the findings of a research on mainstream newspapers regarding coverage of minorities in general and Roma in particular. This project was supported by Swedish Helsinki Committee and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

COURT REPORTING TRAINING COURSE

A training on court reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 19-21, with the participation of print Tirana-based journalists. Given the importance of appropriate reporting on this delicate section of society, the aim of the course was to introduce journalists to the basic principles of court system in the country and beyond, as well as the main elements to consider when reporting on courts and judicial system. Lecturers were Njazi Jaho, from Albanian Helsinki Committee, Ledio Bianku, European Center , and Xhezair Zaganjori, Constitutional Court . The speakers presented the participants with the main judicial bodies in the country, the way they work, presumption of innocence as a must for reporters, the different angles and phenomena that media coverage can cover in this respect, etc. This training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Tirana.

PHOTOJOURNALISM TRAINING COURSE FOR REPORTERS

A workshop on photojournalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 26-30, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. The main aim of this course was to introduce journalists to the basic elements of photojournalism and visual side of reporting in general. In the first three days trainer Albes Fusha discussed with the participants the elements that distinguish good photos from bad ones, taking specific examples from media coverage, participants' portfolio, and world photojournalism experience in general. Building a photostory and the different facets to consider in the process was another topic that the participants discussed and carried out on field. Attention was also devoted to the relation between reporters and editors and positions when it came to photojournalism. In the next two days trainer Mitrulla Thodhori provided an overview of the technical elements of photography, the basic software for working up photos, formats and their specific natures, etc. The course was a combination of theory, practical examples from well-known photographs, and practice from participants themselves. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

HEALTH REPORTING FOR YOUTH

A training on health reporting for young people took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 15-16, with the participation of fifteen correspondents of mainstream media based on main cities. The aim of the training was to raise awareness among journalists that cover health reporting in order to foster a healthy lifestyle for the youth. The speakers were Genci Mucollari, Andi Shkurti, Irida Agolli, and Arjan Harxhi, from Aksion Plus, an organization that is active in health and youth issues. The main topics covered in the course of the training were the philosophy of damage control for drug users, HIV/AIDS and human rights, role of media in improvement of information, kinds of drugs and how to report on them. Other issues related to health reporting for young people that were addressed included the generation gap, relations and communication among youth and adults, teenagers and sexual health, etc. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNFPA.

ONLINE JOURNALISM TRAINING

A training course on online journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 5-9, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of computer assisted reporting, as well as provide them with the basic knowledge in online journalism. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, presented the participants to CAR methodology, its present development, and the main tools used in this regard, mainly using Internet efficiently as an information source in reporting. In her lecture she focused on search engines in Enternet and their specific features, catalogues and databasis, the diverse search strategies, and the practical usage of Internet in today's reporting. Other topics included advanced usage of MS Office packange and e-mail, working with tables and collection and selection of data, charts, etc. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainer provided practical examples for the participants. Finally, participants were introduced to and tested online journalism and its main elements. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING COURSE

A training course on investigative reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 12-14, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. The topics addressed in the lecture of journalism professor Iris Luarasi were related to the definition of investigative reporting and the debates that evolve on this genre. The lecturer also provided a brief history of investigative journalism, its origins, famous cases, and the current stage of development. Further on, the lectures continued with instruction on how to draft and follow an investigative story, including both advantages and risks of this genre of journalism. The role of the editor and the media outlet predisposition were also discussed by the lecturer and participants, having in mind the present context of Albanian media when it came to this kind of reporting. The course was a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical examples, enabling the participants to test the knowledge they gained. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

PRESENTATION OF THE AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW ON DEFAMATION

The amendments to the law on defamation were presented to a group of mempers of Parliament on June 6. These amendments resulted from previous round tables and discussions with members of the previous parliament. In these discussions the media lawyers, media experts, and the Parliamentary Commision on one hand, and the journalists from the other, had the chance to give their input on the potential amendments needed for the law on defamation. In the final round table the members of Parliament agreed in principle on every article and the amendments made to the law. These amendments will be introduced to the Parliament as a bill. Both the Penal Code and the Civil Code contain articles on defamation and slander that are considered regressive in the framework of the freedom of expression. While neighboring countries have improved this aspect of their legislation, Albania is lagging behind, as underlined in the annual report issued by the European Commission. These discussions are a joint initiative of the Albanian Media Institute and the Justice Initiative in New York , with the support of the Open Society Justice Initiative.


AMI NEWSLETTER, July 2006


MEDIA TRAINING ON EU INTEGRATION PROCESS STARTS

Although European integration is a very salient issue after Albania signed the Stabilization Association Agreement, very few people are aware of the complexity of this process. In this context, the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of British Embassy, initiated a training project that aims to provide journalists with the basic aspects that this process entails. The first training course took place in Tirana on July 18-21, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aspects of the integration process were legislation, foreign policy, integration issues, and economical aspects that involve the impact of the integration process. The participants became familiar with the nature of legislation in EU versus member states, the attempts made in harmonizing Albanian legislation to EU standards, and the comparison of the present stage legislation to required standards.

Another topic of interest for participants was the foreign policy issues and the process of relations between Albania and EU in the last years, the changes in the political dialogue, the present position of the Albanian state in this context, Albania 's negotiating power in the region, the historical role of ASA, etc. In addition, the participants were briefed on the role of the Ministry of Integration in this process, the coordination efforts among government bodies, the plan for ASA implementation, the economic benefits and risks expected, the importance of further strengthening of independent institutions in the country, etc. Finally, the Interim Agreement was another major topic, briefing the journalists on the main aspects of this economic agreement, its impact on domestic business, the expected effects, the limitations and benefits that may derive, and Albania 's capacity to fulfill this agreement. Lecturers included high officials from the Ministry of Integration, Ministry of Economy, Commerce, and Energetics, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and international law experts. These courses will continue with other groups of journalists in Tirana and other cities.

ATTEMPTS TO DECRIMINALIZE DEFAMATION CONTINUE

In the framework of the initiative to decriminalize defamation and amend Criminal and Civil Codes provisions on insult and libel, Albanian Media Institute and Open Society Justice Initiative sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Juctice on July 21. This memorandum followed a meeting of representatives of these organizations earlier this month with the minister and other persons of his cabinet. The aim of the memorandum is to explain in detail the two-year ongoing attempts to amend the provisions on defamation. These attempts have been warmly welcome by international organizations concerned with freedom of expression and amending defamation law has been a recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. The amendments to defamation received the support of 23 MPs of the last legislature, but due to elections in 2005 could not make it to the plenary voting. Parallel to the amendments to the defamation, Albanian Media Institute is also engaged in the possibility of revising the Code of Ethics for journalists and establishing a self-regulatory mechanism.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON DRUG ABUSE

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on July 3-7, with the participation of eight journalists from both mainstream and local media. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Korrieri.” The supplement focused on issues of reporting on drug abuse and risk behavior, targeting especially young generation. The participants worked as a team and covered different stories addressing topics related to risk behavior and drug abuse, such as profiles of drug users, the impact of drug use in society, statistics that exist in this area, the attempts to control the damage, etc. In order to assist their reporting, several speakers were invited to address this topic: Genc Mucollari, from Aksion Plus, focused on drugs prevention and its impact on financial, political, and social costs for the individual, the community, and society. The speaker also discussed with the participants the philosophy of damage control and the human rights and media role. The second key speaker was Sokol Morina from the Ministry of Health, who introduced the National Strategy for Reduction of Drug Usage, followed by Dhimitraq Stratoberdha of the Institute of Public Health , who addressed the concepts of medical and public health in the media, as well as the strategic plans that are being implemented in reducing drug usage. On the second day Andi Shkurti from Aksion Plus introduced to the participants the different social theories and their impact through media awareness and education, broaching the terminology used in these cases and the existing stereotypes. The last speaker was Ilda Londo, media researcher at the Albanian Media Institute, who discussed with the participants cases of media coverage of drug use, coupled with the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists. This project was supported by UNFPA and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS ON COURT REPORTING

A roundtable discussion brought together 20 journalists and representatives of the judiciary system at the Albanian Media Institute on July 12, in order to discuss the citizens’ access to information in this area and search for possible ways to improve the situation. Journalists were mainly court and crime reporters, while the rest of participants included spokespersons of courts of different instances, public relations’ officers, representatives from the People’s Advocate Office, etc. The first speaker in this roundtable was Njazi Jaho from the Albanian Helsinki Committee, who tackled the concept of presumption of guilt in Albanian legislation and the main problems in media coverage of this aspect.

Other topics that were discussed included awareness of the law on access to information, existing limitations of the court institutions, their internal regulations on granting information classified as secret. Ilir Aliaj, director of the Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions, discussed these problems with the participants, bringing also examples from experience in this area in other countries.Journalists expressed their concern that procedures for accessing information from court proceedings or data from the Commercial Register are often hindered by bureaucratic procedures and delay journalists or public. In additon, the public relations’ officers identified some problems in media coverage related to the correct terminology used, accurate information, use of anonymous sources, etc. This activity was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

REPORTING ON NATO

A training course aimed at improving NATO reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 5-6, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The course was organized in the framework of the visit of NATO's Secretary General in Albania . The first lecturer was Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Minister of Defense and ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He gave the participants a brief historical overview of the establishment of NATO, the historical context that led to its establishment, as well as the structure of the organization. Then he focused on the shift of doctrine after the Cold War and on the process of Albanian integration into NATO. More specifically he focused on the different stages Albania has been in this process, several aspects of integration, coordination activity, and membership plan.

The second lecturer was Arjan Starova, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Transatlantic Club. He addressed the role of NATO in preserving Euro-atlantic values, NATO enlargement and the membership criteria, as well as its increasing military power. After tackling the concepts of “defense” and “safety,” Starova focused on the Adriatic Charter III as a positive agreement on the path to NATO membership. Finally, he explained the increasing efficiency of NATO after events in Bosnia and especially in Kosovo, as well as the geopolitical role of this organization in the future. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany .

TRAINING ON COVERAGE OF PRESS CONFERENCES

A training course on coverage of press conferences was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 24-28, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. Although a routine activity for journalists, press conferences are an important task for them that should be carried out with professionalism. In order to train the participants on the main aspects to have in mind in these cases lecturers were Aleksander Furrxhi, BBC correspondent and Arben Muka, DW correspondent. Some of the steps the lecturers tackled during the trainng were prior research and gathering information on the press conference topic, persons, or organization, preparing the basic questions that are relevant to the topic, foresee questions that might come up in the course of the conference, etc. The trainers also tackled the specific nature of press conferences as events, cases when to attend, what makes a good active participation, and how to report on press conferences. Usage of media kits and other materials available at the conference was also discussed with the participants. In the fourth training day the journalists attended a press conference that took place at the Ministry of Integration, in order to test some of the knowledge gained during the course. This course was part of an extensive training on professional skills, organized by Albanian Media Institute and supported by Network Media Program.

WORKSHOP ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

A workshop on access to information and investigative journalism brought together media and local government representatives in Korca on July 25-26. The main aim of the workshop was to get acquainted to the law on access to information and the manner the local administration implemented this law, as well as the way it can be used for investigative reporters. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens’ Advocacy Office, explained with practical examples the essence of the law and how it can be used by journalists and the general public for a more in-depth and transparent reporting. Giving specific examples, the lecturer addressed the weaknesses and strength of the implementation of the law in everyday life, including the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, Ombudsman. Ristani also provided a brief history of this law from other countries’ experience.

Second speaker was Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer. In his lecture he addressed the issue of writing a detailed, in-depth investigation story. Specific steps included: picking the topic, planning the sources, searching, reporting, writing the story, checking the facts before publication, the actual publication, follow-up, etc. After becoming familiar with the main problems journalists in this area face with regard to this law, he gave some specific advice and examples that would improve their reporting for the community.

Mitro Medelko, representative of the Prefecture of Korca, focused on the work that was being done by this body for a better implementation of the law on access to information. He clarified the problems that existed in the relations between citizens and journalists on one hand, and the city officials, on the other, briefly explaining the way of functioning of the press office. In his speech he also addressed the problem of meeting the citizens’ attempts for information. The present journalists also suggested some ways that would help a more efficient functioning of the office. This workshop was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

RADIO PROGRAMS PRODUCED IN MONTENEGRIN

A group of reporters and representatives from the Montenegrin minority gathered to produce two radio programs of approximately 20 minutes in their language. The main aim of these programs is to promote media coverage of minorities in the country and provide a different voice for the minorities within the media landscape. In this context, the first program was devoted to the introduction of this minority group, attempts to protect their rights and organize themselves, cooperation with other organizations, as well as youth education. The second program focused on the culture of this group, tackling such subjects as language, customs, the folk music ensemble, the community life, etc. The participants were guided in these productions by Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle correspondent. These radio programs will be aired by Radio Shkodra and Radio Tirana, the public service radio. The production of the programs was implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING TRAINING

A training course on Computer Assisted Reporting took place in Shkodra on July 13-15, with the participation of 12 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of computer assisted reporting, as well as provide them with the basic knowledge in online journalism. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, presented the participants to CAR methodology, its present development, and the main tools used in this regard, mainly using Internet efficiently as an information source in reporting. In her lecture she focused on search engines in Internet and their specific features, catalogues and databasis, the diverse search strategies, and the practical usage of Internet in today's reporting. Other topics included advanced usage of MS Office packange and e-mail, working with tables and collection and selection of data, charts, etc. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainer provided practical examples for the participants. Finally, participants were introduced to and tested online journalism and its main elements. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNESCO.


AMI NEWSLETTER, August - September 2006


JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATIONS SIGN CODE OF ETHICS AND AGREE ON ESTABLISHMENT OF A PRESS COUNCIL

The chairmen of the main journalists' associations in the country agreed to sign the revised Code of Ethics for Journalists on September 27 as well as signed an agreement on the establishment of a council of ethics that would monitor the implementation of this Code. In a symbolic act, Armand Shkullaku, chairman of the Association of Professional Journalists, Ylli Rakipi, Head of the League of Professional Journalists, Mero Baze, chairman of the Forum of Free Media, and Aleksander Cipa, chairman of the Journalists' Trade Union, signed the Code and the Agreement, showing their support for this attempt to media self-regulation. They also invited every media outlet in the country to adopt the Code and accept the authority of the council of ethics in this area. Present were the editors-in-chief of the main media outlets in the capital.

The new Code is a thorough revision of the first one, adopted ten years ago. The present version reflects the changes in the journalism profession and abidance by the main international principles in this regard. These revisions were made by a group of experts after consideration of other countries' ethical codes and several meetings with journalists, editors, directors, and owners. This project was implemented by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of CASALS/ USAID, and OSCE Presence in Albania . 

OSCE WELCOMES ESTABLISHMENT OF MEDIA ETHICS COUNCIL IN ALBANIA

The OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, and the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania , Ambassador Pavel Vacek, welcomed the creation of the Albanian Council on Media Ethics. "Such instruments of self-regulation as press councils and codes of ethics are very well suited to increase professionalism in the media, while preserving editorial independence," said Miklos Haraszti."As they are used by the media and in the interest of the media, their level of acceptance should be high. It is important to create these instruments of self-regulation with an inclusive approach. I am pleased to see this happen in Albania ."

The Council on Media Ethics will comprise seven recognized public figures and serve as an ethics coach and a non-official court on disputes between the public and media. Ambassador Pavel Vacek added: "The OSCE Presence supported this initiative of the media community from the very beginning. The Council is a very useful body that will help further develop the ethical and professional standards of the Albanian media. We will continue to work with the Council in the future."

NEW REGULATORY AUTHORITIES ELECTED AND DEBATED

The Parliament elected the new members of the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) and the Steering Council of the public broadcaster on July 29, in accordance with the new amendments to the law on broadcasting. The opposition refused to participate in this process and after a one-month political crisis deriving from several issues of conflict with the ruling majority, both sides reached an agreement that included among others a new change in the formulas of composition of the regulatory authorities on electronic media. While the new amendments in the law claimed to shift the focus of selection criteria on professional qualities of the members rather than on a political balance of composition of these bodies, the new political agreement seems to head back to a greater guarantee for a politically balanced membership. According to this agreement, signed on August 30, the NCRT members would be seven instead of five and the two new members, coming from civil society, would be selected by the opposition members. Similarly, the Steering Council would expand from seven to eleven members and the new members would have to be agreed upon both by the opposition and the ruling majority.

However, this agreement has encountered difficulties in its practical implementation, since the Parliamentary Commission on Media is arguing over two different drafts submitted by the majority and opposition MPs respectively. These drafts differ on the areas of selection of members of regulatory bodies and the decision-making process in this regard. In order to solve these problems, this commission has established a work group of six MPs, where majority and opposition are equally represented. On the other hand, Fatos Lubonja, the newly elected chairman of the Steering council has added to this crisis by resigning from his post, in view of the amendments made to the law by the two political parties, stressing that this agreement was made having in mind parties' interests alone. He claims that the new changes have violated the law, as well as the principle of representation the law has stipulated for this regulatory body. Unlike the Steering Council, NCRT has already started work, by supervising the implementation of anti-piracy provisions and even imposing fines on some operators. These developments follow several months of intensive debate on the changes made in legislation on broadcasting and recomposition of regulatory bodies of electronic media.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON ROMA

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on September 4-8, with the participation of eight journalists from both mainstream and local media. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Korrieri.” The supplement focused on issues of Roma minority reporting and their coverage by both minority and mainstream media. The participants worked as a team and covered different stories addressing topics related to the Roma minority, aiming to bring out the aspects and voices thAt do not get any media coverage. The supplement included successful Roma stories and the different attempts made within the community to improve their living conditions and their social status. In order to assist their reporting, three key speakers were invited to address these topics: Lindita Xhillari from the Center for Promotion of Human Development, focused on the situation of minorities in Albania and introduced the main trends deriving from research this center has completed in this area. The second key speaker was Rajmonda Duka from the Open Society Foundation, who explained the results from the monitoring of the implementation of the national strategy on Roma. Third speaker was Blerina Tepelena, Head of the Section on Roma Strategy Monitoring at the Ministry of Social Work and Equal Opportunities, who presented the government's point of view and efforts to implement the national strategy on Roma. This project was supported by Swedish Helsinki Committee and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

TRAINING ON COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING

A training course on computer assisted reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on September 13-15, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of computer assisted reporting, as well as provide them with the basic knowledge in using this methodology as a tool for investigative reporting. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, presented the participants to CAR methodology, its present development, and the main tools used in this regard, mainly using Internet efficiently as an information source in investigative reporting. In her lecture she focused on search engines in Internet and their specific features, catalogues and databasis, the diverse search strategies, and the practical usage of Internet in today’s reporting. Other topics included advanced usage of MS Office packange and e-mail, working with tables and collection and selection of data, charts, etc. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to investigative journalists, the trainer provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

REPORTING ON USA

The training course that focused on improving reporting on United States took place at the Albanian Media Institute on September 19-20, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first speaker was Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Minister of Defense and ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. His lecture focused on Middle East and challenges of US foreign policy in that region. He started with a general landscape of the Middle East, focusing on the so-called Evil Axis: Iran , Syria , Lebanon . Special attention was paid to the confused situation in Iraq and the US role in solving this conflict, providing a brief historical background before and after 9/11. Afterwards the lecturer briefly focused on some Middle East countries and their role in international policy, such as Libya , Palestine , Israel , Jordan , Iran , Iraq . He particularly focused on the recent events in Lebanon and on Israel 's attack. In this context, the lecturer provided a brief history of the Palestine issue and on the situation after Arafat's death. Special attention was paid to the conflict between USA and Iran .

The second speaker was Mimoza Kondo , US expert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her main focus was on the global interests of the USA , addressing especially President Bush's problems with EU and the Arab world. She paid special attention to US-Albania relations, focusing on the very satisfactory relations between the two countries, deriving from signs of good will such as sending peacekeeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan . In addition the lecturer focused on multilateral alliances where both countries are involved, such as Adriatic Charter. She also addressed Albania 's involvement in the Millennium fund, aimed at assisting developing countries. The resolution of the status of Kosovo and USA 's role in the overall negotiations was widely discussed by the participants and the lecturer. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany .

TRAINING ON FOSTERING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE FOR YOUTH

A two-day training on fostering a healthy way of living among teenagers was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 21-22, with the participation of fifteen correspondents of Tirana-based electronic mainstream media. The aim of the training was to raise awareness among journalists that cover youth reporting in order to foster a healthy lifestyle for teenagers and young people. The speakers were Genci Mucollari, Andi Shkurti, Irida Agolli, and Arjan Harxhi, from Aksion Plus, an organization that is active in health and youth issues. The main topics covered in the course of the training were the philosophy of damage control for drug users, HIV/AIDS and human rights, role of media in improvement of information, kinds of drugs and how to report on them. Other issues related to health reporting for young people that were addressed included the generation gap, relations and communication among youth and adults, teenagers and sexual health, etc. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNFPA.

HUMAN RIGHTS TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION

A team reporting training was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 11-15, with the participation of ten journalists from the main Tirana-based newspapers. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Gazeta Shqiptare.” The supplement focused on salient human rights issues in the country, such as return of property, the elections' register, sexual orientation and work opportunities, street children, etc. other topics covered in the supplement included the right to practice faith and its compatibility with the laic state, the high school dropout rate in the countryside, etc. In order to assist their reporting, three key speakers were invited to address these topics: Xhezair Zaganjori, member of the Constitutional Court , focused on European Convention of Human Rights and other relevant legislation in this area, paying special attention to the attempts to amend Albanian legislation in this regard. The second key speaker was Njazi Jaho from the Albanian Helsinki Committee, who addressed the notion of presumption of innocence as a human right and as one of the main principles that journalists should have in mind. Third speaker was Dajana Kumbaro, UNICEF, who provided a brief overview of the main international instruments that are supposed to protect human rights, with a special focus on children's rights. This project was supported by the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS ON CRIME AND COURT REPORTING

A roundtable discussion brought together 25 journalists and representatives of the judiciary system at the Albanian Media Institute on September 25, in order to discuss the citizens’ and journalists’ access to information in this area and search for possible ways to improve the situation. Journalists were mainly court and crime reporters, while the rest of participants included spokespersons of state police at different levels, public relations’ officers, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, etc. The first speaker in this roundtable was Njazi Jaho from the Albanian Helsinki Committee, who discussed the concept of presumption of guilt in Albanian legislation and the main problems in media coverage of this aspect. He also focused on the role of the training programs of the international missions for the police of different levels in the country.

The second speaker was Ilir Aliaj, director of the Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions, who discussed on the awareness of the law on access to information, existing limitations of the police districts and the structure within these institutions, and their internal regulations on granting information classified as secret. Journalists expressed their concern that procedures for accessing information from police activities are often hindered by internal regulations. They also stated the problems they sometimes had with spokespersons, mistakes in the press releases, or delays in releasing communication for the journalists. After discussing with the journalists these aspects, the present public relations’ officers identified some problems in media coverage related to the correct terminology used according to all the procedures, the preservation of confidentiality, etc. This roundtable was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

TRAINING ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING REPORTING

Two training courses were organized at the Albanian Media Institute on human trafficking reporting on September 25-28, with the participation of 15 journalists from Tirana-based and local media respectively. The main objective of these courses was to inform the participants on the phenomenon of trafficking and the profile of victims, introduce the journalists to specific cases of human trafficking, and raise awareness of this phenomenon, having in mind international standards and the need to respect privacy. The main speakers in the course of the training included representatives from the government, such as Iva Zajmi, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and National Coordinator of Anti-Trafficking, representatives from the relevant NGOs, such as Miriam Neziri and Silvana Mjeda from IOM, Adem Tamo from the Center of Human Development, and journalists or photojournalists, such as Lutfi Dervishi, Armand Babani, and Mark Marku. The trainings were a combination of information on the situation of human trafficking in the country and in the region, the international and national legislation in this regard and the surveys done in this aspect in several areas in the country with more professional aspects of media ethics when reporting in these cases, bringing specific cases of articles that cover these issues and their problematic sides against the background of the Code of Ethics. These training courses were organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the British Embassy in Tirana and the International Organization for Migration.

WORKSHOP ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

A workshop on access to information and investigative journalism brought together media and local government representatives in Saranda on September 29-30. The main aim of the workshop was to get acquainted to the law on access to information and the manner the local administration implemented this law, as well as the way it can be used for investigative reporters. The first lecturer, Arben Ristani, from Citizens' Advocacy Office, explained with practical examples the essence of the law and how it can be used by journalists and the general public for a more in-depth and transparent reporting. Giving specific examples, the lecturer addressed the weaknesses and strength of the implementation of the law in everyday life, including the bodies that ensure this implementation: administrative complaint, court complaint, Ombudsman. Ristani also provided a brief history of this law from other countries' experience.

Second speaker was Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer. In his lecture he addressed the issue of writing a detailed, in-depth investigation story. Specific steps included: picking the topic, planning the sources, searching, reporting, writing the story, checking the facts before publication, the actual publication, follow-up, etc. After becoming familiar with the main problems journalists in this area face with regard to this law, he gave some specific advice and examples that would improve their reporting for the community.

Kastriot Qelepiri, representative of the Municipality of Saranda , focused on the work that was being done by this body for a better implementation of the law on access to information. He clarified the problems that existed in the relations between citizens and journalists on one hand, and the city officials, on the other, briefly explaining the way of functioning of the press office. In his speech he also addressed the problem of meeting the citizens' attempts for information. The present journalists also suggested some ways that would help a more efficient functioning of the office. This workshop was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

TRAINING ON LOCAL NEWS REPORTING

A training course on reporting local news was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 4-8, with the participation of 15 journalists from both mainstream and local media. The main reason for organizing this training is that Albanian media in general, and especially print media, devotes little space to local events. The basics of local news reporting in local press was the focus of this course, where Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer, was the lecturer. He addressed the main difference in nature between local news reporting for the local press and the local news reporting for the mainstream media, paying specific attention to the target group. Then he discussed with participants where to find news, their value and criteria, distinguishing between pseudoevents and the true events. Sources and preparing for the news through the map of ideas was an exercise that provided the participants with the opportunity to learn local news criteria by doing them. Special attention was paid to interviewing and writing profiles for a local newspaper, as well as the specifics of editing and writing a local news page in a newspaper. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

DEBATE ON HISTORICAL TURNS AND MEMORY COMEBACKS

The Institute of Dialogue and Communication and the Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with the Center of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona organized a debate on the topic of Historical Turns and the comebacks of memory with well-known intellectuals from Albania and other countries in the region and Western Europe . The debate, which took place on September 16 in Tirana, evolved around different dilemmas that societies have to face in historical moments, while encountering their past anew, such as should the truth be sought at all cost, should the past be reconstructed in order to serve present political needs, or what would be a fair relation between the need to forget social dramas of the past and the need to remember or discover the truth. Some of the topics covered in order to debate on these questions included the reconstruction of the past, historical myths as legitimating tools, amnesia or amnisty, the idea of collective responsibility, media and memory, etc. Some of the distinguished speakers included Prof. Paul Garde, professor at the University of Provence, Piro Misha, Director of Institute of Dialogue and Communication, Tirana, Kepa Aulestia, director of Vocento media group, Spain, Josep Ramoneda, director of the Center of Contemporary Culture, Barcelona, Veton Surroi, well-known intellectual, Prishtina, G. M. Tamas, a philosopher and well-known dissident, Romania, and Blendi Kajsiu, analyst, Tirana.

JOURNALISM AWARDS ON CHILDREN REPORTING

The journalism awards on best reports on children for 2006 were distributed on September 15 in Tirana from the Center for Protection of Children's Rights in Albania . This ceremony marked also the start of a process that aims to establish a tradition of awarding best reports on children on an annual basis. Three were the winners for this year: Holta Zhiti from Top Channel, Arben Muka from Deutsche Welle, and Denisa Xhoga from Metropol. The main aim of these awards is to raise awareness among journalists to improve reporting on children's rights and devote more space to children in the media, as well as pay special attention to ethical issues in this regard. This award was suported by Olaf Palme International Center and SIDA.


AMI NEWSLETTER, October 2006


RSF ISSUES THE WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX

Reporters Sans Frontieres issued the world press freedom index for 2006, confirming Northern European states as countries where there are no records of threats, censorship or physical intimidation to journalists. Similarly to last year, this annual report continued witness a setback of certain Western democracies, mainly the US for the claims of “national security” to question any media opposition on “war to terrorism, as well as Japan, Denmark, and France who scored a poorer record of press freedom compared to a year ago. In the same way, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to rise in the press freedom index, leaving behind EU members such as Greece and Italy. Albania’s position continued to drop by 18 places this year, ranking 80,th counting among the main problems to press freedom self-censorship, difficult access to public information and retention of criminal defamation law.

In this context, the Trade Union of Albanian Journalists reacted after the release of this report, stating that Albanian journalists find themselves in a critical social situation, facing delays in receiving their salaries and lack of social security payment and health benefits in most of the media outlets. However, the Union greeted the increasing number of journalists that are being paid social security compared to last year. The Union called for the initiation of the process of approving and signing of a collective agreement for journalists, the strict abidance by the Code of Ethics, and the establishment of a fair and competitive business environment.

CEI JOURNALISTS FORUM HELD IN TIRANA

The Central European Initiative Journalists’ Forum “The role of media in preparation for EU accession” was organized in Tirana on October 6-7 in the framework of the Albanian presidency of the CEI. The Forum brought together about 40 journalists, editors, NGO representatives from the CEI countries. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Besnik Mustafaj, and the Director of the CEI, Harald Kreid, greeted the Forum at its opening, too. The main focus of the forum was the discussion of the different issues and topics involved in the process of EU accession through a media angle. Since CEI comprises both old and new EU members and candidate countries, the exchange of different experiences on the several stages of accession and their impact on the societies of the countries were central to the discussions of the Forum. Some of the topics discussed by the participants were media and public perceptions on EU accession, media ownership and media transparency, harmonizing media legislation in the framework of EU standards, public broadcasting and its future in EU and in new democracies, the impact of globalization and digitalization, the role of media in post-accession context, and the free movement of journalists in CEI area and in the EU. This Forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute and the Central European Initiative in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania.

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC BROADCASTER DISMISSED

The Steering Council of the public broadcaster dismissed Artur Zheji, General Director of Albanian Radio and Television (RTVSH) on its meeting of October 27, with six votes in favour and none against. The voting came after Mero Baze, the most recently elected member of the Steering Council, published an open letter demanding the dismissal of Zheji as the first measure needed for starting the progress and reform of RTVSH. In this letter, while recognizing the professional merits of Zheji as a journalist and analyst, Baze claimed that the way Zheji had managed RTVSH so far had been inefficient and abusive, referring to last year’s reports from the Supreme State Audit and several protests made by the Trade Union of RTVSH employees. The letter also claimed that similarly to other previous directors of public broadcasters, Zheji had not managed to escape from the political influence, failing to transform RTVSH in a truly public broadcaster. After the dismissal, Zheji publicly regarded these accusations as false ones, claiming that he had worked in an honest and professional manner, in spite of hindrances of several kinds he faced during his term. Presently the Steering Council has made public the call for applications for General Director of RTVSH.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA SELF-REGULATION IN SHKODRA

A seminar on media self-regulation was organized in Shkodra on October 19-20, bringing together 30 journalists from print and electronic media based in Shkodra and other neighboring cities. The main aim of this seminar was to increase journalists’ awareness and commitment to media ethics and self-regulation. In order to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of media self-regulation and the foreign experience in this area the main speakers were Luitgard Hammerer from Article 19 and Ronan Brady from National Union of Journalists in Ireland. They focused on media self-regulation and its role in guaranteeing freedom of expression, its relation to defamation law, the experience of media self-regulation in old and new democracies, etc. Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer and editor of the new Code of Ethics, introduced the basic aims and principles of the revised Code of Ethics, while Ilda Londo, media researcher, explained the structure and functioning of the newly established Council of Ethics in Albania. Apart from discussing the different issues of media self-regulation in the Albanian context, the participants also engaged in an ethical case-study. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute and Article 19 with the support of the Stability Pact.

JOURNALISTS DISCUSS ALBANIAN EU ACCESSION PROCESS

Although European integration is a very salient issue after Albania signed the Stabilization Association Agreement, very few people are aware of the complexity of this process. In this context, the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of British Embassy, is implementing a training project that aims to provide journalists with the basic aspects that this process entails. The second training course took place in Tirana on October 9-13, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aspects of the integration process were legislation, foreign policy, integration issues, and economical aspects that involve the impact of the integration process. The participants became familiar with the nature of legislation in EU versus member states, the attempts made in harmonizing Albanian legislation to EU standards, and the comparison of the present stage legislation to required standards.

Another topic of interest for participants was the foreign policy issues and the process of relations between Albania and EU in the last years, the changes in the political dialogue, the present position of the Albanian state in this context, Albania’s negotiating power in the region, the historical role of ASA, etc. In addition, the participants were briefed on the role of the Ministry of Integration in this process, the coordination efforts among government bodies, the plan for ASA implementation, the economic benefits and risks expected, the importance of further strengthening of independent institutions in the country, etc. Finally, the Interim Agreement was another major topic, briefing the journalists on the main aspects of this economic agreement, its impact on domestic business, the expected effects, the limitations and benefits that may derive, and Albania’s capacity to fulfill this agreement. Lecturers included high officials from the Ministry of Integration, Ministry of Economy, Commerce, and Energetics, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and international law experts. These courses will continue with other groups of journalists in Tirana and other cities.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON HEALTHY LIVING FOR TEENAGERS 

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 16-20, with the participation of eight journalists from both mainstream and local media. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Gazeta Shqiptare.” The supplement focused on issues of reporting on the age of adolescence and the main problems this group of people faces. The participants worked as a team and covered different stories addressing topics related to generation gap, psychological help offered at schools, sexual education as “a must” for healthy lifestyle, teenagers’ initiatives in civic efforts, etc. In order to assist their reporting, several speakers were invited to address this topic: Irida Agolli, from University of Tirana, focused on self-esteem and intimacy in adolescence. The second key speaker was Artan Fuga from University of Tirana, who addressed the importance of the notion of communication with and among teenagers. Arjan Harxhi, from Tirana University Hospital Center, discussed with the participants issues related to teenagers, sexual health, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS infectionOn the second day Migena Reci from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports, introduced the government social programs concerning the youth. The last speaker was Ilda Londo, media researcher at the Albanian Media Institute, who discussed with the participants cases of media coverage of teenagers, coupled with the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists.  This project was supported by UNFPA and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

IMPROVING REPORTING ON UN

The training course that focused on improving reporting on the United Nations Organization took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 25-26, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first speaker was Rexhep Mejdani, ex-President of Albania. His lecture focused on the way the notion of international right has evolved during the years, on the role and function of the UN, and on the way the Security Council functions, and its main role and duties in the framework of UN. He also provided a historical background and overview of the establishment of UN and the way it has evolved since its founding.

The second speaker was Xhezair Zaganjori, ex-Ambassador of Albania to Germany and member of the Constitutional Court. His main focus was on the peacekeeping missions of the UN, their structure and functioning manners, addressing specific examples of these interventions, such as missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Special attention was also paid to UN’s special agencies and their roles. He also addressed on the analysis and functions of several bodies within the UN, such as the General Assembly, Economic-Social Council, the Supervisory Council, the International Court of Justice, and the General Secretariat. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany.

TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON COURT REPORTING

A team reporting training was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 16-20, with the participation of ten journalists from the main Tirana-based newspapers. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Metropol.” The supplement focused on salient issues related to court reporting in the country, such as the relations between lawyers and defendants, potential changes in legislation, the processes held in absence, minors and pre-detention, taking the cases to the Eureopan Court of Human Rights, etc. In order to assist their reporting, three key speakers were invited to address these topics: Njazi Jaho from the Albanian Helsinki Committee, who addressed the notion of presumption of innocence as a human right and as one of the main principles that journalists should have in mind when engaging in court and crime reporting. The second key speaker was Xhezair Zaganjori, member of the Constitutional Court, who focused on European Convention of Human Rights and other relevant legislation in this area, paying special attention to the functions and role of the European Court of Human Rights. Third speaker was Agim Neza, advisor to the General Prosecutor, who provided a brief overview of the main issues related to the judicial system in Albania and its relations with the media, based on his long experience in this area. This project was supported by the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

ROUNDTABLE ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A roundtable on access to information, the legal situation and its implementation from media and citizens was organized on October 18, with the participation of 40 journalists from print and electronic media from Tirana-based and local media outlets. The first key speaker was Artur Lazebeu from the Press Office of the People’s Advocate, who adressed the practical implementation of the law on access to information in local and central public administration, focusing on the existing legislation, its implementation, the role of spokespersons, and the importance of raising awareness among citizens for this important issue. Lutfi Dervishi, from Citizen’s Advocacy Office, continued the discussion shifting attention to the importance of using the law on access to information when reporting on corruption and organized crime, bringing specific examples from local and national media in this regard to discuss with the present journalists. Third speaker was Ilir Aliaj, director of the Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions, who covered the topic of reporting on local elections in the media by using the law on access to information, the current level of awareness on this law among citizens and media, and ways to improve the situation. The participants brought their own experience in this area, as well as discussed with the lecturers potential ways of improving the situation. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNESCO.

TRAINING ON OPINION POLLS REPORTING

Even though with delay, opinion polls are gradually entering Albanian life, exerting a significant influence both in political and public debate and in decision-making. In view of this situation, a training on opinion polls reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 24-28, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media from the capital and other cities. Trainer was Zyhdi Dervishi, professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tirana. The main aim of this course was to instruct journalists on the overall process that leads to opinion polls, how to read the results and then report them to the public. In this context, the main topics discussed during the training were the main advantages and limitations of polling as a methodology, the main problems noticed in the country when it comes to opinion polls and their reporting, sampling and different factors to keep in mind when selecting a sample, and media coverage of opinion polls and ways to improve it. The training was a combination of theory and practice, engaging the participants in practical exercises of drafting questionnaires for different polls, reading the results, analyzing the background behind polling, etc. This course was part of an extensive training on professional skills, organized by Albanian Media Institute and supported by Network Media Program.

ARTICLE 19 ENCOURAGES DECRIMINALIZATION OF DEFAMATION IN ALBANIA

Article 19 addressed a letter to the Minister of Justice of Albania this month, following a meeting this organization’s representatives had with him and other politicians related to media regulation this month. While greeting the political support the Minister showed in principle to amend the defamation law, Article 19 argued in its letter against the “legal case” that the Minister presented in the meeting for retention of decriminalization. The letter stated that an appropriate balance must be made between individual dignity and the right to freedom of expression. The letter also reminded that Albania is a party to the Eureopan Convention on Human Rights and as such international law takes precedence over Albanian constitution and defamation laws should be amended accordingly. In spite of retention of defamation as a criminal law in several old democracies in Eureope, these laws are rarely used and safeguards to guarantee freedom of expression are in place, which is not the exact case in Albania. Hence, Article 19 encourages Albania to follow the practice of other countries in the region, which have decriminalized defamation and in practice ordinary citizens have had no difficulty enforcing their rights through civil law. This meeting came after the efforts to decriminalize defamation law continue through a joint effort of Albanian Media Institute and Justice Initiative, New York.


AMI NEWSLETTER, November 2006


IMPROVING REPORTING ON GLOBALIZATION

The seminar that focused on the development of globalization in the world, its impact on Albania, and its future, took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 6-7, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first lecturer was Kastriot Islami, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs. He started by presenting a general overview of the phenomenon of globalization and its geopolitical component, and continued by explaining its various stages, such as universalism, globalization, etc. The lecturer addressed such essential concepts as the global village, geopolitics, and followed with the impact of globalization on Albania. He also paid special attention to the UN and the ongoing debate on the existing institutions. Other topics the lecturer discussed with the participants included the kinds of globalization, such as industrial, financial, political, cultural, etc.

The second lecturer was Albert Rakipi, director of Albanian Institute for International Studies. He focused his lecture mainly on the factors that brought about globalization, such as the economic aspect, free movement of people, Internet and communication, which brought to the shortage of distances. The lecture also addressed the cultural aspect of the globalization, the Huntington thesis on the clash of civilizations, etc. Other issues addressed were the thesis of the no-global movement, the preservation of the national identity. Finally, the lecturer focused on the good and bad effects of globalization on the Albanian culture. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany.

JOURNALISM TRAINING ON ALBANIAN EU ACCESSION PROCESS CONTINUES

Although European integration is a very salient issue after Albania signed the Stabilization Association Agreement, very few people are aware of the complexity of this process. In this context, the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of British Embassy, is implementing a training project that aims to provide journalists with the basic aspects that this process entails. The third training course took place in Shkoder on November 14-17, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aspects of the integration process were legislation, foreign policy, integration issues, and economical aspects that involve the impact of the integration process. The participants became familiar with the nature of legislation in EU versus member states, the attempts made in harmonizing Albanian legislation to EU standards, and the comparison of the present stage legislation to required standards.

Another topic of interest for participants was the foreign policy issues and the process of relations between Albania and EU in the last years, the changes in the political dialogue, the present position of the Albanian state in this context, Albania’s negotiating power in the region, the historical role of ASA, etc. In addition, the participants were briefed on the role of the Ministry of Integration in this process, the coordination efforts among government bodies, the plan for ASA implementation, the economic benefits and risks expected, the importance of further strengthening of independent institutions in the country, etc. Finally, the Interim Agreement was another major topic, briefing the journalists on the main aspects of this economic agreement, its impact on domestic business, the expected effects, the limitations and benefits that may derive, and Albania’s capacity to fulfill this agreement. Lecturers included high officials from the Ministry of Integration, Ministry of Economy, Commerce, and Energetics, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and international law experts. These courses will continue with other groups of journalists in Tirana and other cities.

NEW DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC BROADCASTER ELECTED

The Steering Council of the public broadcaster elected Petrit Beci as General Director of Albanian Radio and Television (RTVSH) on its meeting of November 10, with six votes in favor and none against. After ten persons presented their candidatures for this post, the voting came down to two names, and in the second round Beci won all the cotes of the Steering Council. This change came after the dismissal last month from this post of Artur Zheji, who had been general director of RTVSH for three years. Meanwhile, the Steering Council has also approved the changes in other posts, such as Deputy General Directors of RTVSH, directors of public radio and public television, as well as directors of information. The newly elected administration faces the difficult task of improving the performance of the public broadcaster and taking it closer to fulfilling its public mission. 

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON ADOLESCENCE 

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 13-17, with the participation of eight journalists from both mainstream and local media. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Panorama.” The supplement focused on issues of reporting on the age of adolescence and the main problems this group of people faces. The participants worked as a team and covered different stories addressing topics related to generation gap, changes in legislation affecting teenagers, teenagers’ methods of expression, such as slang, social assistance offered in this area, etc. In order to assist their reporting, several speakers were invited to address this topic: Ilda Poda, from the Ministry of Social Issues and Equal Opportunities, focused on government programs and strategies for development. The second key speaker was Arjan Harxhi, from Tirana University Hospital Center, who discussed with the participants issues related to teenagers, sexual health, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS infection. On the second day Mirela Shuteriqi, from Terre Des Hommes, Tirana, addressed the difficulties teenagers face nowadays, bringing specific examples from migration, juvenile justice, street children, etc. Edlira Haxhiymeri, from University of Tirana, focused on the situation and perception of teenagers in relation to themselves and vis-à-vis the others. The last speaker was Ilda Londo, media researcher at the Albanian Media Institute, who discussed with the participants cases of media coverage of teenagers, coupled with the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists.  This project was supported by UNFPA and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC REPORTING TRAINING

A training course targeted at economic reporters took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 20-24, with the participation of 12 journalists. The main aim of the course was to introduce participants to the chief traits of economic reporting and train them on acquiring different skills and using several angles in this area. Trainer was Ross Tieman, from Cayssialis Business Communication, France. The training combined lectures with discussions and practical examples and assignments by the participants, enabling them to test their improved skills on field. Some of the main topics addressed during the training were the aims of business journalism and the writing skills needed in economic reporting, the different manners of gathering evidence, the importance of research in this field, introduction of different business frameworks, translating business data and developments into understandable news, use of particular terms and language targeted at different readers and publics, etc. The journalists also held interviews with well-known entrepreneur and analyst, in order to test the knowledge gained during the course. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute and supported by International Institute for Journalism, Germany.

TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON CORRUPTION REPORTING

A team reporting training was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on November 6-10, with the participation of ten journalists from the main Tirana-based newspapers. The reporters produced a supplement that was published in daily “Shqip.” The supplement focused on salient issues related to corruption reporting in the country, such as the investigation on the income of high officials, the corruption in the judicial system, the problems with property issues and the causes that lead to corruptive affairs in the bodies that deal with these, the cases of corruption discovered in several state bodies, such as police, the electrical energy corporation, courts, etc. In order to assist their reporting, three key speakers were invited to address these topics: Artan Hoxha from the Institute of Contemporary Studies, who addressed the need to prevent the conflict of interest in different levels of the three state powers. The second key speaker was Fatbardh Kadilli, advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers, who explained the main trends and programs in the government’s strategy in the struggle against corruption. Third speaker was Didmir Bushati, research director at Agenda Institute, who provided a brief overview of the main issues related to corruption affairs in developing countries and the experience in Albania and abroad in this area. This project was supported by the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands and organized by the Albanian Media Institute.

COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING TRAINING FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS

A training course on computer assisted reporting for investigative journalists was organized in Pogradec on October 31-November 2, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of computer assisted reporting, as well as provide them with the basic knowledge in using it for investigative journalism. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, presented the participants to CAR methodology, its present development, and the main tools used in this regard, mainly using Internet efficiently as information source in investigative reporting. In her lecture she focused on search engines in Internet and their specific features, catalogues and databases, the diverse search strategies, and the practical usage of Internet in today’s reporting. Other topics included advanced usage of MS Office package and e-mail, working with tables and collection and selection of data, charts, etc. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to investigative journalists, the trainer provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNESCO.

TRAINING ON NARRATIVE JOURNALISM

Narrative journalism was the topic of a training course that took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 20-24, with the participation of 15 journalists from mainstream and local media. The main objective of the training was to improve the reporting skills of journalists dealing with feature stories and profiles, combining lectures and everyday practical assignments. Trainer was Altin Raxhimi, freelancer, who introduced the reporters to the history of narrative journalism and its main principles, the different approaches to narrating a story, the main work elements and observations, such as voice, body language, characters, irony and humor, compassion, etc. The trainer also worked with the participants in writing different feature stories for their work, using different narrating lengths and techniques, and in discussing the future of narrative journalism in the country. During the training several materials and handouts on narrative journalism were distributed to journalists, along with the indication of different web pages that are useful in writing feature stories. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

JOURNALISTS TRAINED ON IMPROVING REPORTING ON CHILDREN

Two training courses on children reporting were organized at the Albanian Media Institute on the dates November 1-3 and 8-10, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media, from Tirana and other cities. The main aim of these courses was to raise awareness on the children rights, their situation, and how they should be reported in the media. For this aim, lecturers introduced participants to a comprehensive overview of the Albanian legislation relevant to children and the media and other key international legal instruments and examined the current practices in representing children in the print and electronic media. In addition, ethical considerations were included in the framework in terms of media and children. The lecturers brought their expertise from different areas, mainly from media, justice and legislation, and civil society. The first lecturer was Florian Pustina, expert lawyer on international right of children, who focused on an overview of the international documents that deal with children rights, also including a history of the development of this right and the needs to fairly address children coverage. Second lecturer was Artur Lazebeu from People’s Advocate Office, who introduced to journalists the work his office had been doing on the area of children’s rights, explaining the legal background and bringing specific examples, as well as discussing the future of this office in this field. On the second day, Steven Ashby, director of Save the Children, introduced to the participants the main aspects of work of this organization, and the importance of familiarity of journalists with children’s rights and the need to observe ethical professional standards in this direction.

Afterwards Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer and one of the main persons involved in revising the Code of Ethics of Albanian journalists, summarized the main aspects of the Code to journalists, focusing especially on the section devoted to a fair and ethical coverage of children by journalists. Fourth lecturer was Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle correspondent, who focused his lecture on the cooperation between media and NGOs in covering events that focus on children, touching upon delicate ethical issues such as privacy and sensitivity of children. On the third day Arben Ristani, lawyer, informed the participants on the main legal provisions in Albanian legislation related to children and the importance for these journalists to become familiar with this aspect, in order to avoid any violation and suffering. Afterwards, Holta Kotherja, director of the Legal Clinic for Minors, shared with the journalists her own experience in working with minors, providing specific cases addressed in the media and focusing on the way these children are affected psychologically by media coverage. These training courses were organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of Save the Children.

REPORTING ON ORGANIZED CRIME TRAINING

A training course on improving reporting on organized crime took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 13-17, with the participation of journalists from mainstream media. The main aim of the training was to improve the journalists’ coverage of organized crime in the media, focusing on several particular aspects of this genre. Trainer was Jason Kandel, reporter of Daily News, Los Angeles. Some of the main topics addressed during the course was finding the sources, building trust relations with them, and discussing several methods of following-up on previous stories. Interviewing skills, accessing official documents and sources, and pursuing investigative journalism were other topics discussed. The course involved both discussing and bringing specific examples and doing practical on-field assignments. The course was organized by the US Embassy in Tirana.

NGOS CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS

A coalition of NGOs started a two-week campaign on November 25 related to the rights of women. The campaign will comprise several events, activities, and aims to raise awareness on the need to denounce and struggle against domestic violence and any other forms of violation experienced by women. Special focus of the campaign will be the need to assist to victims of trafficking as well as urge and educate women on the importance of denouncing domestic violence. Some of the organizations participating in the campaign include “Useful to Albanian woman,” “House for Protection and Culture of Women,” and Albanian Media Institute.

TRAINING ON COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING   

A training course on computer assisted reporting and investigative journalism took place in Durres on November 14-16, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of computer assisted reporting, as well as provide them with the basic knowledge in using it for investigative journalism. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, presented the participants to CAR methodology, its present development, and the main tools used in this regard, mainly using Internet efficiently as an information source in investigative reporting. In her lecture she focused on search engines in Internet and their specific features, catalogues and databases, the diverse search strategies, and the practical usage of Internet in today’s reporting. Other topics included advanced usage of MS Office package and e-mail, working with tables and collection and selection of data, charts, etc. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to investigative journalists, the trainer provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNESCO.


AMI NEWSLETTER, December 2006


FOURTH COURSE ON TRAINING OF JOURNALISTS ON ALBANIAN EU ACCESSION PROCESS

The fourth course of training of journalists in the main trends and aspects of Albania’s accession process into the EU took place at the Albanian Media Institute on December 4-8, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aspects of the integration process on which this course focused were legislation, chief institutions, integration issues, and economical aspects that involve the impact of the integration process. The participants became familiar with the nature of legislation in EU versus member states, the attempts made in harmonizing Albanian legislation to EU standards, and the comparison of the present stage legislation to required standards.

Another topic of interest for participants was the establishment of particular institutions and the changes that Albania needs to make in order to adapt to the requirements in the context of EU accession. In addition, the participants were briefed on the role of the Ministry of Integration in this process, the coordination efforts among government bodies, the plan for ASA implementation, the economic benefits and risks expected, the importance of further strengthening of independent institutions in the country, etc. Finally, the Interim Agreement was another major topic, briefing the journalists on the main aspects of this economic agreement, its impact on domestic business, the expected effects, the limitations and benefits that may derive, and Albania’s capacity to fulfill this agreement. Lecturers included high officials from the Ministry of Integration, international law experts, and high officials heavily involved in the process of negotiations with EU. These courses will continue with another group of journalists in Gjirokastra, in the framework of the project supported by the British Embassy.

TRAINING ON REPORTING ON TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS

The seminar that focused on improving reporting on transatlantic relations took place at the Albanian Media Institute on December 18-19, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first lecturer was Ferit Hoxha, ex-Ambassador of Albania to France and expert on transatlantic relations. He started by presenting a general overview and history of relations between Europe and the USA, focusing on main events and moments of crisis that have shaped the relations between the two continents, on changes of policy course by the USA and divergences among European states vis-à-vis America and their differences on the vision of future Europe. The lecturer addressed then the changes in these relations against the backdrop of the end of Cold War and the new issues that arose afterwards. He also paid special attention to EU today, its main institutions and its limitations when it comes to transatlantic relations and foreign policies of member states. Then the lecturer focused on the role and perception of USA in the present world, its future vision and discussed with the participants its role as a changing superpower and its impact on the global scene.

The second lecturer was Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He closely focused on USA’s foreign policy in the last decade and the way this has shaped and sometimes divided EU member states’ foreign policies, and consequently has influenced the transatlantic relations. Several periods and the respective scenarios of transatlantic relations were addressed and discussed, with a focus on Albania’s foreign policy interests in the overall context. The lecturer focused on all the factors that influence the fragile balance of relations between Europe and USA nowadays, discussing with the participants Albania’s positioning in the overall scheme and the future direction these relations might take. Other topics the lecturer tackled were the nature of partnership between Europe and USA, the different scenarios noticed, and the rules of diplomacy in this partnership, pointing out the need to preserve and further strengthen this delicate balance. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Media-Im-Pakt, a part of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, IFA, Germany, and marked the completion of an extensive training project of journalists on foreign policy issues.

CRCA ANNOUNCES CHILD RIGHTS MEDIA AWARDS 2006

The Children's Human Rights Centre of Albania announced on January 4 the winners of the 2006 Child Rights Media Awards. This initiative of CRCA, supported by Palme Center and SIDA, aims at increasing better reporting of children issues and children rights in the mainstream print and broadcast media in Albania. The Child Rights Media Awards, are given for the second year to the journalists, based on three major categories: Child Rights Printed Media Award; Child Rights Radio Award; and Child Rights Television Award. The three Media Awards went to: Alban Dudushi, host of the well-known TV talk show "TOP SHOW," to Radio BBC World Service, Albanian Section, as the best Radio for Children Rights during 2006, and to Kamber Velaj, journalist at the daily newspaper ‘SHQIP’, as the best Journalist for Children's Rights during 2006 in the mainstream printed media.

TRAINING COURSE ON PHOTOJOURNALISM

A training course on photojournalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on December 20-22, with the participation of 10 reporters, from both mainstream print media and local ones. The main aim of the course was to introduce reporters to the main principles of photojournalism, an area that is little explored in present Albanian journalism. Trainer was Albes Fusha, well-known photographer. He started the training by reviewing the role of photos, layout, and graphics in present Albanian media scene. Then he focused on the main elements of the portrait in print media, such as artificial or natural light, elements to keep in mind for a successful portrait, what to notice in a person in order to carry out a portrait, etc. Other topics he addressed included the concept of a photo story based on contemporary photojournalism, digital photos, formats, resolution, ethical dilemmas in digital photography and photojournalism in general, etc. the course was a constant combination of theory and practice, matching theory and numerous examples from contemporary photojournalism, as well as enabling participants to test the knowledge gained on realizing portraits and photo stories. The professional skills training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy in Tirana.

SOCIAL PROTECTION OF JOURNALISTS IS DISCUSSED

The Albanian Center of Media Monitoring and the Union of Albanian Journalists organized a roundtable on the protection of journalists and media employees while on duty as an essential condition on freedom of press. This roundtable gathered members of several journalists’ associations, journalists from mainstream media, representatives of civil society, etc. The roundtable marked the completion of a series of roundtable discussions on this topic held in major cities in the country, such as Vlora, Shkodra, Korca, and Gjirokastra. These discussions have focused on the present situation of protection of journalists and have gathered feedback from the journalists’ community on what is needed to improve the situation. The final roundtable focused on the model of the collective work contract of journalists drafted by the Union of Albanian Journalists. The main speakers in this roundtable were Hamdi Jupe, director of the Albanian Media Monitoring Center, Aleksander Cipa, chairman of the Union of Albanian Journalists, and Ilir Dhima, publisher of the magazine “Tribuna Juridike.” This activity was supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

WORKSHOP ON INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

The German Embassy in Tirana and the Albanian Media Institute held a workshop on investigative journalism on December 11-15, with the participation of journalists from all media kinds, print, TV, radio, and online. The main aim of this workshop was to work with journalists that would produce investigative reports for each working area. These reports were submitted to a group of Albanian and German journalists in the form of a competition. The winners will be able to attend a two-week internship near some well-known German media outlet, such as Deutsche Welle for radio, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, ZDF TV, etc. The group of experts worked with the story ideas of the participants in separate workgroups, providing advice and holding discussions focused on methods and skills of investigative reporting. This activity was organized by the German Embassy in Tirana and the Albanian Media Institute.

RADIO PROGRAMS PRODUCED ON TEENAGERS’ PROBLEMS AND ISSUES

A group of reporters from the public radio gathered to produce six radio programs of approximately 20 minutes each. The main aim of these programs is to promote media coverage of teenager’s problems and to promote a healthy living of this age group. In this context, the programs focused on such issues as generation gap, education of teenagers on healthy lifestyle, sexually transmitted disease, the relations with parents and peers, drug addiction and its prevention, juvenile justice, youth education and opportunities, etc. The participants were guided in these productions by Zamira Koleci, Radio Tirana director and well-known radio journalist. These radio programs will be aired by Radio Tirana, the public service radio. The production of the programs was implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNFPA.

SEENPM General Assembly decides to register SEENPM as an association in Tirana

The South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM) held its Tenth General Assembly (GA) meeting in Tirana on 15-16 December, 2006. Fifteen out of the eighteen member centers attended the event, hosted by the Albanian Media Institute. The General Assembly, the main decision making body of this regional network of media NGOs, adopted a new statute in order to register SEENPM as an association in Albania. The delegates elected the following members to the board of SEENMP: Remzi Lani, Albania (chairman), Ilona Móricz (Hungary), Bela Ajzenberger (Serbia), Boro Kontic (Bosnia), and Ognian Zlatev (Bulgaria). According to the adopted statute, SEENPM employed Sandor Orban (Hungary), as executive director for coordinating the network’s media development, professional training, advocacy, and fundraising activities.The General Assembly also discussed interim reports on SEENPM activities for January-November 2006. These documents were presented by president Ilona Moricz whose terms expire once all projects, launched under the old SEENPM structure, are completed. At the meeting delegates tackled project and fundraising plans to be executed in 2007.

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