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Newsletters Archive
AMI Newsletters             2007

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

AMI NEWSLETTER, January 2007


OSCE ADVISES CAUTION ON DIGITAL BROADCASTING LAWS AND URGES DECRIMINALIZATION OF DEFAMATION

Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, urged Albanian parliamentarians on January 30 to ensure that media regulation takes into account the abundance of channels that digital television transmission enables as they prepare licensing regulations. "Albania has shown a strong political will to shape media laws in accordance with international standards. Where regulation is necessary, I call on you to do it in the least intrusive manner. The results will not only benefit the press, but also the voters and politicians," he said.

These remarks were made during a visit of a group of Albanian MPs to OSCE’s office in Vienna, where the issues discussed were on media freedom, defamation, libel, access to information, media self-regulation and the need to ensure sufficient separation between media and authorities. Haraszti also called on the Albanian Assembly to consider proposed changes to anti-defamation provisions and amendments to the electronic media law as outlined in legal reviews commissioned by his office.

WORLD PRESS PHOTO OPENS IN TIRANA

World Press Photo exhibition opened for the first time in Tirana on January 16, with the participation of the President of the Republic Alfred Moisiu. The exhibition of the winning press photos of one of the largest annual contests of press photography will be open for three weeks in Tirana. Until the end of January the exhibition had a record number of 2500 visitors, indicating a significant interest in photojournalism. The opening of the exhibition was supported by the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands.

PROJECT ON IMPROVEMENT OF ETHICAL STANDARDS AND MEDIA POLICIES STARTS

A seminar on media self-regulation organized in Durres on January 29-30 marked the start of a project aiming to improve ethical standards in the media and media policies. The main aim of this seminar was to increase journalists’ awareness and commitment to media ethics and self-regulation. After the approval of the New Code of Ethics and the establishment of the Council of Ethics in September 2006 both the Code and the Council that will supervise its implementation need to become more familiar for the local media based outside the capital. In this context, Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer and editor of the new Code of Ethics, discussed with the participants the notion of ethics in journalism and the necessary criteria for developing ethical journalism. In addition, the lecturer introduced the basic aims and principles of the revised Code of Ethics, illustrating them with specific examples from Albanian media. The participants discussed their own ethical dilemmas by bringing specific examples related to public interest cases, relations to sources of information, advertising and ethics, etc. On the second day, Ilda Londo, media researcher, explained the structure and functioning of the newly established Council of Ethics in Albania, providing a background on the origins of this body, the notion of self-regulation and different forms of achieving this process, as well as the challenges of the Council of Ethics in the country. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of CASALS.

TRAINING COURSES ON ALBANIAN EU ACCESSION PROCESS CONCLUDE

The fifth and last course of training of journalists in the framework of the project “EU Accession Interpreted” took place in Gjirokastra on January 9-13, with the participation of 15 local 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 representatives from the Ministry of Integration, international law experts, representatives of think-tanks and ex-officials heavily involved in the process of negotiations with EU. This course marked the completion of a series of courses organized to provide more in-depth understanding of EU accession process for the media in the framework of the project supported by the British Embassy.

NEW PROJECT ON ETHICS AND CHILDREN DISCUSSED BY STAKEHOLDERS

Editors-in-chief, reporters, and NGO representatives gathered on January 26 at the Albanian Media Institute to discuss the start of a project aiming to introduce ethical guidelines in coverage of children by Albanian media. Apart from the detailed professional guidelines in children’s coverage, the project will also carry out a gap analysis on national and international legislation in this area. A series of meetings with stakeholders will be organized to get feedback on the drafted rules and to establish a monitoring practice or body of the implementation of these rules. After becoming familiar with the project objectives, working group, and tools to achieve objectives, the participants discussed this initiative and made suggestions on the right way to carry out this project, organized by Albanian Media Institute and supported by UNICEF.

REPORTING ON NATO

A training course aimed at improving NATO reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on January 23-25, with the participation of 10 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first lecturer was Ferit Hoxha, Secretary General at Ministry 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 Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Minister of Defense and ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. 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,” Hajdaraga 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. On the third day, analyst Remzi Lani addressed NATO’s role since the Cold War and the potential scenarios for its future, focusing on NATO’s restructuring and enlargement and its new role after 9/11. He paid special attention to the Riga Summit and the issues discussed there, such as terrorism, relations with Russia, future enlargement, the trial of Afghanistan, etc. Then the lecturer discussed with the participants NATO’s role in the region and the Kosovo crisis, carrying out a geopolitical analysis of the Balkan countries. Finally, the lecturer addressed the future of NATO and its enlargement, making the distinction between the American and French concepts regarding the future of the organization. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy. 

ONLINE JOURNALISM TRAINING

A training course on online journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 10-12, with the participation of 10 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 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 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 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 U.S. Embassy.

TV JOURNALISM TRAINING CONCLUDES PROFESSIONAL SKILLS TRAINING PROJECT

A training course on TV journalist’s preparation took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 15-19, with the participation of 15 TV journalists, both from mainstream and local media. The topics addressed in the lecture of journalist Stefan Gajo, director in photo department of Albanian Radio Television, were related to the figurative equivalence in preparing the news. He treated on the first two days of the training all the issues and problematic situations from the first beginning of the preparation to the transmitting the news. He also provided the participants with presentations, bringing practical examples both from Albania and abroad, addressing such issues as geography, number of potential plans, stand-ups, editing of different plans, press conference shooting backgrounds, use of microphones, telemagazines, etc.

On the third and fourth day of the training, Franko Egro, journalist and general director of “Koha” TV, presented to the participants the essential elements of TV stories and news, such as content elements, main professional principles, simplicity in conveying the message, focus on the topic in question, writing an editorial, information sources, interviewing techniques, etc. He discussed these elements with the participants by analyzing news editions from different TV stations. On the last day, Diana Kalaja, Deputy General Director of public broadcaster addressed the topic of management, teamwork, establishing a crew, etc. This course marked the completion of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, implemented by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

PUBLICATION ON GENDER AND MEDIA

“Stereotyping: Representation of women in print media in South East Europe” is a publication featuring articles on media coverage of gender roles and issues. The book, published in English, is a collection of research papers on specific features of media coverage of women, gender roles, and gender relations, including articles from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia. These articles attempt to offer insight into the ways in which print media in these countries portray gender roles and relations, trying to provide an overview of the tactics and strategies of gender representation in print media in South East Europe. Research in the book is both qualitative and quantitative and aims to offer a broad variety of perspectives on the subject. The book was published in the framework of a project implemented by Mediacentar Sarajevo, with the support of Balkan Human Rights Network, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Neighborhood Program, Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina, and South East Network for the Professionalization of the Media.


AMI NEWSLETTER, February 2007


MEDIA BEHAVIOUR MONITORED DURING LOCAL ELECTIONS

According to OSCE/ODIHR’s monitoring mission of February 18 local elections in Albania in general, voters were provided with extensive election-related information in the media; yet the media mainly focused on the two largest parties, with smaller parties receiving less coverage than their legal entitlement. The OSCE/ODIHR monitored the main broadcast and print media outlets, assessing the time and space allocated to candidates and parties running for the elections, as well as the tone of the coverage. During the official campaign period, public broadcaster TVSH allocated 28 per cent of its political and election prime-time news coverage to the Democratic Party in power, mostly positive or neutral in tone. The Socialist Party, in opposition, received 29 per cent, also mainly positive or neutral.

The coverage of the two main parties by private broadcasters TV Arbëria, Top Channel, Vizion + and News24 was similar to that of TVSH. TV Klan adopted a different approach, giving the SP 28 per cent of coverage and the DP 21 per cent. The broadcaster often presented state officials as government representatives, even when they were participating in campaign events. TV Klan allocated some 23 per cent of its political coverage to the Government, more than any other outlet monitored. Compliance of media by the Electoral Code is overseen by the Central Elections’ Commission’s Media Monitoring Board (MMB). Based on the MMB’s reports, the CEC ordered a number of media to “correct” imbalances in their coverage. However, there were no sanctions imposed on those media deemed as not abiding by the Code.

TRAINING ON IMPROVING REPORTING ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

A training course aimed at improving reporting on European integration was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 7-9, with the participation of 10 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first lecturer was Ilda Zhulali, Director of EU Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who explained the main foreign policy trends and efforts from Albanian government regarding European integration, focusing on several regional agreements and assistance programs. 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.

The second lecturer was Kastriot Islami, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, who focused on EU enlargement and the main challenges it represents. After providing a brief overview of developments related to EU enlargement, he focused on four main challenges related to enlargement, namely demographics, economy, social model, and institution building. In the course of his lecture he addressed such problems as immigration, demographic policy changes, sustainable economic development, the European social model and its future, the establishment of efficient institutions, the test of the EU constitution, etc.

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, addressed by Ditmir Bushati, director of Agenda Institute and ex-member of Albanian negotiating group. In his lecture he focused on the challenge of establishment and strengthening of credible and efficient institutions in the country in the framework of the efforts on EU integration. 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. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.

COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING TRAINING

A training course on computer assisted reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on February 12-14, with the participation of 10 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. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, introduced 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 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 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 U.S. Embassy.

TRAINING COURSE ON PHOTOJOURNALISM

A training course on photojournalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on February 5-7, 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, focusing especially on the different formats of photographing, editing for different purposes and media, etc. the trainer followed with an introduction to the basics of digital photography, providing examples from news photography in Albania and in the world. Other topics he addressed included the concepts of photo news and photo story, illustrating the different genres with an archive of Magnum agency. The participants were able to test the knowledge gained during the course in practice, by shooting different images of a general theme titled “Urban photo.” The professional skills training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy 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 January 31- February 2, with the participation of 10 journalists from print and electronic media, both from mainstream and local ones. 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 was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.

JOURNALISTS PROTEST AGAINST THE ARREST OF THEIR COLLEAGUE

The staff of daily newspaper Tema staged a protest in front of the District Court of Tirana on February 26, showing their disapproval for the arrest of Celo Hoxha, editor of opinions’ section in the newspaper. Hoxha, was arrested on an order issued by the General Prosecutor on charges of forging the signature of one of the candidates for Mayor of Tirana in the February 18 elections. Hoxha, apart from journalist, is also Secretary General of one of the parties running in these elections. However, his colleagues in Tema newspaper claimed that the arrest was on political, and not juridical basis, and demanded his immediate release.


AMI NEWSLETTER, March 2007


SEMINAR ON IMPROVEMENT OF ETHICAL STANDARDS AND MEDIA SELF-REGULATION IN LEZHA

A seminar on media self-regulation was organized in Lezha on March 1-2 in the framework of a project aiming to improve ethical standards in the media and media policies. The main aim of this seminar was to increase journalists’ awareness and commitment to media ethics and self-regulation. After the approval of the New Code of Ethics and the establishment of the Council of Ethics in September 2006 both the Code and the Council that will supervise its implementation need to become more familiar for the local media based outside the capital. In this context, Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer and editor of the new Code of Ethics, discussed with the participants the notion of ethics in journalism and the necessary criteria for developing ethical journalism. In addition, the lecturer introduced the basic aims and principles of the revised Code of Ethics, illustrating them with specific examples from Albanian media. The participants discussed their own ethical dilemmas by bringing specific examples related to public interest cases, relations to sources of information, advertising and ethics, etc. In addition, Ilda Londo, media researcher, explained the structure and functioning of the newly established Council of Ethics in Albania, providing a background on the origins of this body, the notion of self-regulation and different forms of achieving this process, as well as the challenges of the Council of Ethics in the country. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of CASALS.

PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES MEDIA OF LINKS TO MAFIA, MEDIA REACTS

Prime Minister Sali Berisha declared in March 28th’s government meeting that media in Albania is linked to mafia groups, which use the media in order to demonize certain government representatives and actions, especially its battle against corruption. The same charges were made by the Minister of Justice next day in Parliament, who reacted against opposition’s attacks on this issue. After these declarations there was an outcry of media editors and owners, demanding for specific facts and names that Prime Minister had to supply, as well as provide the prosecuting authorities with the necessary information in order to start any lawsuits. In their statements they doubted first of all the existence of mafia in the country and then indicated that if the Prime Minister has any facts on this issue it is his duty to present the information to the judicial authorities.

HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ANALYZES MEDIA SITUATION

According to the 2006 Human Rights Report of the US Department of State on Practice of Human Rights in Albania, the media was active and largely unrestrained in the country, but there were serious problems with the use of the media for political purposes. Publishers and newspaper owners continued to dictate news stories to serve their political and economic interests and sometimes blocked stories that ran counter to those interests. The report states that journalists continued to practice self-censorship, and there was little transparency in the financing of the media. The independent print media were active but were constrained by limited professionalism, lack of finances, and political pressure. According to the report, while stations generally operated free of direct government influence, most owners believed that the content of their broadcasts could influence government action toward their other businesses. Many journalists complained that the absence of employment contracts frequently hindered their ability to report objectively. On a more positive note, there was no libel suits brought against journalists, different from last year.

TRAINING ON TRANS-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION

A training course aimed at improving reporting on Trans-Atlantic integration was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 19-21, with the participation of 10 journalists from both print and electronic media. The first lecturer was Ditmir Bushati, of Agenda Institute and ex-member of Albanian negotiating group. In his lecture he focused on the challenge of establishment and strengthening of credible and efficient institutions in the country in the framework of the efforts on EU integration. 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.

In order to have a better understanding of the overall context of Trans-Atlantic integration, Ledi Bianku, expert of international law, briefed the participants on the main principles of international law, EU law, and USA law, pointing to the way policies are affected by or affect legislation. 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, as well as discussed the main relevant aspects of international law.

The third lecturer was Florian Xhafa, expert on EU enlargement, who focused on the main challenges it represents. After providing a brief overview of developments related to EU enlargement, he paid special attention to the Interim Agreement, 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. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.

INITIATION OF MEDIA BRIEFING SERIES ON INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS RELATED TO MEDIA

Albanian Media Institute started a media briefing series on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences. The documents cover areas not directly related to media, but affecting this area. The first briefing series took place on March 16 at AMI and concerned the issue of protection of copyright. The participants were briefed on the main international documents that cover the issue of copyright and intellectual property, such as Convention of Berne, Convention of Rome, TRIPS Agreement, the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, etc. The documents also included some of the main EU directives in relation to copyright. In addition to presenting the main international documents affecting copyright, journalists also became familiar with the main areas and principles of copyright law in Albania, the work done by the Directory of Brands and Patents, and the efforts to establish an office for protection of copyright. The participants brought several examples of violation of copyright in the media scene, but not only, discussing the way the implementation of international documents applied in these cases. This media briefing series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of CASALS.

FILM FESTIVAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS HELD IN TIRANA

The second edition of the Albanian Human Rights Film Festival was organized in Tirana on 14-17 March at the Marubi Film and Multimedia School. The main objective of this festival was to raise awareness on human rights and special needs persons through projection of brief documentaries, films, or other artistic works. The films also addressed the street children issue, prostitution, trafficking of organs, gender issues, 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, German Embassy in Albania, Albanian Media Institute, OSCE, IFA, British Council, SIDA, and Marubi Film and Multimedia School.

DISCUSSION ON MEDIA ETHICS AND SELF-REGULATION IN FIER

A seminar on media ethics and self-regulation was organized in Fier on March 12-13, with the participation of local journalists, editor, and media owners. The main objective of this seminar was to raise awareness among journalists on media ethics, pinpoint the main problems in this area and increase their commitment to self-regulation as a tool for achieving media ethics and accountability. After the approval of the New Code of Ethics and the establishment of the Council of Ethics in September 2006 both the Code and the Council that will supervise its implementation need to become more familiar for the local media based outside the capital. In this context, Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer and editor of the new Code of Ethics, discussed with the participants the notion of ethics in journalism and the necessary criteria for developing ethical journalism. In addition, the lecturer introduced the basic aims and principles of the revised Code of Ethics, illustrating them with specific examples from Albanian media. The participants discussed their own ethical dilemmas by bringing specific examples related to public interest cases, relations to sources of information, advertising and ethics, etc. In addition, Ilda Londo, media researcher, explained the structure and functioning of the newly established Council of Ethics in Albania, providing a background on the origins of this body, the notion of self-regulation and different forms of achieving this process, as well as the challenges of the Council of Ethics in the country. The participants were also briefed on the different needs and contexts of establishment of self-regulation bodies in other countries and gave their own feedback on this practice. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of CASALS.

ONLINE JOURNALISM AND BASIC TRAINING ON WEBMASTER SKILLS

A training course on online journalism and basic skills for webmaster took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 26-30, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. One of the main topics of the course was introducing reporters to wire news and the way they could use these services for their own work, focusing also on the specific details of news writing for newspapers and for wires. Other issues addressed during the course were information sources and ethical dilemmas in wired news, adaptation of different formats, the increasing role of Internet in reporting and the ethical issues that follow, etc. News writing for Internet or online media was also discussed in the training, providing also opportunities for the reporters to practice these kind of stories. In addition the participants were introduced to the basic skills for webmasters, including the main elements of an online media page and their usage. The participants then tested the knowledge of the course by creating an Internet page. This training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of NAB.

PHOTOJOURNALISM EXHIBITION

An exhibition of photos from reporters in the main dailies in the country was opened at the Albanian Media Institute on March 29. These works were assignments the reporters had carried out in the framework of two photojournalism courses that took place earlier. The photos carried an urban theme, displaying views of places and people in Tirana, aiming to apply in practice the main principles and skills that they learnt in the two photojournalism courses. The courses aimed to teach reporters the use of photojournalism in telling stories as an unusual and unexplored path of journalism in the country. The exhibition opening was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the US Embassy.

CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A forum aiming to discuss the proposed amendments of Law on Access to Information took place on March 6 in Tirana, gathering some of the civil society representatives. The main objective of this forum was to discuss the proposed amendments that Open Society Justice Initiative and Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions had prepared to present to the Parliament. One of the main proposals in this bill is to reduce the time allowed to receive information from public authorities to 10 working days instead of the present 40-day deadline. Another proposal was related to the establishment of public information offices in every institution and to the determination of specific remuneration procedures for violation of the law. In addition, the proposal urges for a clear definition of “official documents” in order to avoid any ambiguity and establish the higher public interest as the main criterion for disclosing official information. This forum was organized by Open Society Justice Initiative and Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions.


AMI NEWSLETTER, April 2007


BILL ON DIGITAL BROADCASTING DISCUSSED IN PARLIAMENT

The bill on digital broadcasting was introduced in the parliament on April and was returned to the Parliamentary Commission on Media after the discussion in plenary session on April 25. This bill caused much controversy since its introduction, since the opposition members of the Parliamentary Commission on Media claimed that they were not familiar with the draft and the hasty procedure that the majority followed did not allow for time to consult with the relevant stakeholders. Moreover, they claimed that this was in violation of the action plan signed with the European Union and the Council of Europe, sidestepping their recommendations to discuss the matter with all interest groups before drafting any bill.

The introduction of the bill was also opposed by the operators of the existing digital terrestrial platform, which has been in the market for three years now. While recognizing the need to draft such a law, the representatives of the platform objected setting the experimental period to 6 months, saying it was very short. In addition, they demanded that the bill should consider their existence and operation in the market for a few years now and not act as if starting from scratch in this area. Meanwhile, a new bill was introduced by one of the members of the commission, which set the licensing term to five and eight years for local and national broadcasters respectively. The other groups of interest also participated in the hearing sessions of the Parliamentary Commission on Media in this topic and gave their opinions in this regard.

Comments were also provided by the OSCE for Freedom of Expression in Vienna, who considered the bill as generally in line with international standards and found that it did not pose any imminent threat to freedom of media in digital broadcasting. However, the comments called for non-discriminatory regulation and further clarity of several terms and of the broadcasting quotas in terms of European works.

SEMINAR ON IMPROVEMENT OF ETHICAL STANDARDS AND MEDIA SELF-REGULATION IN ELBASAN

A seminar on media self-regulation was organized in Elbasan on April 26-27, in the framework of a project aiming to improve ethical standards in the media and media policies. The main aim of this seminar was to increase journalists’ awareness and commitment to media ethics and self-regulation. After the approval of the New Code of Ethics and the establishment of the Council of Ethics in September 2006 both the Code and the Council that will supervise its implementation need to become more familiar for the local media based outside the capital. In this context, Lutfi Dervishi, freelancer and editor of the new Code of Ethics, discussed with the participants the notion of ethics in journalism and the necessary criteria for developing ethical journalism. In addition, the lecturer introduced the basic aims and principles of the revised Code of Ethics, illustrating them with specific examples from Albanian media. The participants discussed their own ethical dilemmas by bringing specific examples related to public interest cases, relations to sources of information, advertising and ethics, etc. In addition, Iris Luarasi, journalism professor, explained the structure and functioning of the newly established Council of Ethics in Albania, providing a background on the origins of this body, the notion of self-regulation and different forms of achieving this process, as well as the challenges of the Council of Ethics in the country. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of CASALS.

THIRD MEDIA BRIEFING ON INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

The media briefing series on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, continued with its third session on April 20. The participants were briefed on the main international documents that cover access to information, such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention of Human Rights, several declarations and recommendations of Council of Europe, UNESCO’s Bucharest Declaration, EU’s Data Protection Directive, etc. The participants also became familiar with the main aspects of Albanian legislation on this area and discussed with Ilir Aliaj, director of the Centre for Development and Democratization of Institutions, on the way the law is implemented, its main deficiencies and the recent attempts to amend the law in several aspects. This media briefing series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of CASALS.

TRAINING COURSE ON PHOTOJOURNALISM

A training course on photojournalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on April 23-27, with the participation of 11 reporters, NGO representatives, etc. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants 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 good photographs and on the different genres in this area, such as concept, silhouette, colour and black and white, texture, etc. Special attention was paid to learning to make portraits, focusing especially on the different formats of photographing, editing for different purposes and media, cropping, etc. The trainer followed with an introduction to the basics of digital photography, providing examples from news photography in Albania and in the world. Other topics he addressed included the concepts of photo news and photo story, illustrating the different genres with an archive of Magnum agency. The participants were able to test the knowledge gained during the course in practice, by shooting different images of a general theme titled “Urban photo.” The professional skills’ training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of NAB.

CONFERENCE ON POPULISMS

The Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona, in cooperation with Albanian Media Institute and Institute of Dialogue and Communication, Tirana, organized a conference on populism in the present world in Barcelona on April 16-17. The conference brought together a number of experts who compared specific experiences to offer a common conceptual framework with which to understand populism in today’s world. The speakers in the event addressed several facets and aspects related to populism, focusing on populism’s impact and effect presently, such as on a wide variety of political tendencies, ranging from the extreme right to the radical left, from economic liberalism to equalitarianism, from nationalism to anti-globalisation movements. Speakers in the conference included well-known writers, academics, professors, diplomats, and think-tank directors from different European countries. This meeting took place within the framework of ongoing collaboration with the Institute of Dialogue and Communication and the Albanian Media Institute of Tirana (Albania), through which the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona has set out to promote and strengthen cultural exchange in the heart of the new Europe.

ALBANIAN OFFICE FOR COPYRIGHT IS ESTABLISHED

A roundtable on copyright legislation and its implementation in various aspects in Albania was organized on April 26, with the participation of lawyers, artists, associations dealing with copyright, journalists, etc. The main topics addressed during the roundtable were the role and competencies of several state organizations, offices, or branches dealing with copyright issues, their work so far and the challenges ahead. A special session was devoted to the role of the customs’ and tax offices in knowing and assisting implementation of copyright legislation. Professional associations and organizations concerned with observation of copyright laws shared their experience in this area in the recent years, giving several recommendations for improving the situation. Other speakers included professors of copyright and intellectual property, as well as judges that had dealt with this issue in court. The roundtable, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth, and Sports, also introduced the establishment of the Albanian Copyright Office, under the auspices of this ministry.


AMI NEWSLETTER, May 2007


BILL ON DIGITAL BROADCASTING PASSES IN PARLIAMENT

The bill on digital broadcasting was passed in the Parliament on May 28. The bill has been extensively discussed for two months now and it was approved only by the majority, as the opposition left the room and refused to vote. The opposition claims that the bill was passed without reflecting the opinions of the interest groups and those of the opposition. It also opposes or does not meet the EU recommendations on the bill, the representatives of the opposition parties said. On the other hand, the majority claims that the present law reflects all EU recommendations and suggestions from stakeholders. The law is being considered by the President and will enter into force if he decrees it in the next ten days. Nikolle Lesi, MP, has called upon the President not to decree the law, as he claims it does not reflect some important amendments that the law must contain.

The bill was voted after being introduced in the parliament on April and returned to the Parliamentary Commission on Media after the discussion in plenary session on April 25. This bill caused much controversy since its introduction, since the opposition members of the Parliamentary Commission on Media claimed that they were not familiar with the draft and the hasty procedure that the majority followed did not allow for time to consult with the relevant stakeholders. Moreover, they claimed that this was in violation of the action plan signed with the European Union and the Council of Europe, sidestepping their recommendations to discuss the matter with all interest groups before drafting any bill.

The introduction of the bill was also opposed by the operators of the existing digital terrestrial platform Digitalb, which has been in the market for three years now. The operator considered this law a political attack, aiming to root out government criticism among the media.

ROUND TABLE ON MEDIA’S ROLE IN EU INTEGRATION

“The role of media in EU Accession: The Spanish experience,” was the topic of the round table organized on June 1 with the participation of Albanian media editors-in-chief and reporters, civil society representatives, and high-rank officials. The main aim of the roundtable was to discuss the media role in the complex process of integration, exchanging in this manner Albanian and Spanish experiences in this area. For this purpose the panel of experts in the roundtable was included Manuel Montobbio, Ambassador of Spain to Albania, Remzi Lani, Director of Albanian Media Institute, Majlinda Bregu, Minister of European Integration, Diego Carcedo, International President of Association of European Journalists, Xavier Batalla, Diplomatic Correspondent of “La Vanguardia,” and Juan Fernandez Elorriaga, Former Correspondent of “Cambio 16,” “El Pais,” and EFE Agency in the Balkans. The roundtable was organized by the Spanish Embassy in Tirana through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation in cooperation with the Albanian Media Institute.

OPPOSITION DEMANDS DISMISSAL OF NCRT

The opposition representatives in the parliament demanded the dismissal of National Council of Radio and Television, claiming that it has acted according to a political bias and it has worked applying double standards. This proposal came after the submission of the NCRT’s annual report in the parliament and especially after some decisions made by NCRT to free the broadcasting spectrum in some areas of the country of unlicensed broadcasters. Main TV stations like Top Channel and Vizion+ were forced to remove their antennas in cities like Shkodra or other areas in the country, since they were broadcasting in areas for which they did not have a license. The operators have protested against these decisions, considering this a political process and one meant to restrict media freedom.

CONSULTATION FORUMS ON MEDIA AND CHILDREN

In the framework of a project aiming to establish professional guidelines in media’s coverage of children the first consultation forum with media editors-in-chief, editors, and reporters of social issues took place on May 22. Guest speaker was Ian Prince, Executive Producer in Children’s BBC. He shared with the participants the BBC practice in the area as the best known ethical practices in the field. He also shared tips and several ways of approaching and covering children, as well as providing space to them in the media. The participants also became familiar with the assessment of gaps in the applicable legislation with regard to media and children, as well as with the set of professional guidelines developed by the workgroup in this aspect. Afterwards many journalists brought their own practice when covering children, presenting many ethical problems and dilemmas. Specific attention was paid to the issue of what constitutes public interest and how the children’s interest can be sacrificed at times for raising awareness on the children’s problems and having a positive end result.

The second consultation forum took place on May 23, involving media representatives and social workers and psychologists. The meeting aimed to discuss the problems that social workers see from their own perspective in coverage of children in the media and map potential solutions. For this purpose, apart from becoming familiar with the assessment of gaps in the applicable legislation regarding media and children and the set of professional guidelines, the participants also discussed the main tasks and responsibilities of social workers and the child protection system in the country. The forum provided a way for an exchange of experiences, views, and opinions among these two groups equally important to children. The forums will go on with other stakeholders in this project organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

TRAINING COURSE ON EU INTEGRATION

A course on EU integration was organized at Albanian Media Institute on May 28-31, with the participation of fifteen reporters from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to improve knowledge of Albanian reporters on EU matters, institutions, history, functioning, etc. The specific of this course was that it also included first hand experience with representatives of old EU member state such as Spain. Speakers were Rexhep Mejdani, former President of Albania, Manuel Montobbio, Ambassador of Spain, Sokol Nako, Former Minister of Integration, Ilda Zhulali, EU Directorate from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Juan Fernandez Elorriaga, Former Correspondent of “Cambio 16,” “El Pais,” and EFE Agency in the Balkans, Xhezair Zaganjori, Member of Constitutional Court,  Diego Carcedo, International President of Association of European Journalists, and Xavier Batalla, Diplomatic Correspondent of “La Vanguardia. The main topics presented and discussed during the training included the notion of establishing a common Europe, Spanish foreign policy in the EU context, the specific features of Stabilization and Association Agreement and its implementation in Albania, the scenario of Balkans in the road towards EU integration, European law and European institutions, the role of media in Spanish and Portuguese transitions, etc. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute and Spanish Embassy in Tirana through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS ON AUDIOVISUAL POLICIES

The media briefing series on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, continued with its fifth session on May 21. The participants were briefed on the two main international documents that focus on audiovisual policies, namely the EU Directive Television without Frontiers and the Council of Europe Convention on Transfrontier Television. The presentation and discussion focused on such issues as broadcasting quotas, protection of minors, right of reply, advertising and sponsoring, teleshopping, and broadcasting of major events. Specific attention was also paid to the revision of these documents in the wake of technological developments and their impact on content and its distribution, discussing the expected changes in this regard. The participants also became familiar with the extent these documents are reflected in the relevant Albanian legislation on this area and discussed with Andrea Nathanaili, Director of Programming at the National Council of Radio and Television, which is the regulatory and supervisory body of the electronic media in the country. This media briefing series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of USAID.

PUBLICATION ON RADIO JOURNALISM

The book “Radio Reporter,” by Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle reporter and published by Albanian Media Institue, is conceived as a manual for radio reporters and editors, including theoretical and practical knowledge in this area. The book includes a brief history of development of radio as a medium in the world and in Albania, an overview of the current situation of radio in the country, as well as an assistance file in terms of radio licenses, legal regulation in this area, etc. The manual focuses extensively on the specific nature of information in the radio, addressing such issues as information sources, interviewing, vox-pop, press conference, radio features, information programs and their different formats, the specificity of community radio and local radio, etc.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS ON LABOUR RELATIONS

The media briefing series on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, continued with its fourth session on May 4. The participants were briefed on the main international documents that cover labour relations and international labour standards, such as the basic conventions of International Labour Organizations, the follow-up reports on implementation of international labour standards, the different policies related to labour standards, social protection, social dialogue, and employment policies, etc. The participants also became familiar with the main aspects of Albanian legislation on this area and discussed with Aleksander Cipa, head of the Albanian Journalists Trade Union, on the way the law is implemented and its main deficiencies, bringing examples from their own experience in this case. This media briefing series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of USAID.

SEMINAR ON IMPROVEMENT OF ETHICAL STANDARDS AND MEDIA SELF-REGULATION IN ELBASAN

A seminar on media self-regulation was organized in Korca on May 10-11, in the framework of a project aiming to improve ethical standards in the media and media policies. The main aim of this seminar was to increase journalists’ awareness and commitment to media ethics and self-regulation. After the approval of the New Code of Ethics and the establishment of the Council of Ethics in September 2006 both the Code and the Council that will supervise its implementation need to become more familiar for the local media based outside the capital. In this context, Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle reporter, discussed with the participants the notion of ethics in journalism and the necessary criteria for developing ethical journalism. In addition, the lecturer introduced the basic aims and principles of the revised Code of Ethics, illustrating them with specific examples from Albanian media. The participants discussed their own ethical dilemmas by bringing specific examples related to public interest cases, relations to sources of information, advertising and ethics, etc. In addition, Ilda Londo, media researcher, explained the structure and functioning of the newly established Council of Ethics in Albania, providing a background on the origins of this body, the notion of self-regulation and different forms of achieving this process, as well as the challenges of the Council of Ethics in the country. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of USAID.

BOOKLET ON MEDIA AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

The booklet “Media and Children’s Rights,” drafted by Mediawise with the support of UNICEF, was translated and published in Albanian. This booklet aims to assist media professionals reporting on children. The publication covers different situations of covering children, such as education, juvenile crime, sexual abuse and exploitation, family and children, child labour, child discrimination, child protection and healthcare, etc. The booklet also offers tips on a professional and non-traumatic approach to children, such as on interviewing, approaching children in specific situations, involving children in the media, etc. In addition, there are several appendixes related to children, such as summaries on Convention on Rights of Children, IFJ guidelines, useful international contacts, etc. This booklet, published by AMI with the support of UNICEF, will be distributed to journalists covering social issues and other interested actors.


AMI NEWSLETTER, June 2007


HEAD OF REGULATORY AUTHORITY RESIGNS

ledi Bianku, head of the National Council for Radio and Television, stated in June 28 that he would resign from his duty. He said that given the numerous work engagements and the heavy workload, he felt he could not properly devote to fulfilling the role of the head of the regulator for electronic media. He was elected chairman of the council last July, after a controversial amendment to the law on electronic media regarding the election of members of regulatory authority, followed by an equally debated nomination and election of the council’s members. After Bianku’s resignation the council has only four members out of seven that it is supposed to have. In addition, recently it has faced criticism on its decisions to remove antennas of some TV stations that it claimed to broadcast out of the area they were licensed for.

PRESIDENT OF ALBANIA DECORATES DEUTSCHE WELLE

The President of Albania awarded the golden Medal of Gratitude to the Albanian section of Radio Deutsche Welle on June 28. The President appreciated the special contribution of this radio in the consolidation of a positive image of Albania and its contribution in conveying information on the values and culture of Albanians, in addition to serving as a bridge between the two countries. Present at the awarding ceremony were Hans Peter Annen, the German ambassador to Albania, Erik Betterman, the General Director of Deutsche Welle, Verica Spasovska, director of the Central and Southeast Europe branch, Adelheid Feilcke-Tiemann, director of foreign relations, Fabian Schmidt, director of the Albanian program of Deutsche Welle, as well as reporters from this radio. The Albanian section of Deutsche Welle has been functioning for 15 years.

FREEDOM HOUSE REPORTS ON ALBANIAN MEDIA

According to the annual report of Freedom House, the media situation in Albania for the last year continued to be characterized by the lack of transparency in financial matters, audience/circulation, and ownership. In addition, unilateral changes in the composition of the media regulatory bodies from a balanced political representation to civil society representation elected by the Parliament have opened the way to the election of pro-government representatives on these bodies. On a more positive note, the attempts to decriminalize libel and defamation continue and the links and access to public tenders by media owners have been cut off. The report states that in spite of steps taken to make media more responsive to the public, political pressure and unclear ownership structures prevailed in 2006.

MONITORING AND ROUNDTABLE ON CORRUPTION REPORTING

Albanian Media Institute carried out a monitoring analysis of the main daily newspapers for one month, focusing on the coverage of corruption and specific cases represented. The analysis was of a quantitative and qualitative nature, identifying the main trends, the existing problems, and offering recommendations that aimed to improve the situation. The findings of this monitoring were presented and discussed in a roundtable on June 20, with the participation of about 30 journalists, members of civil society, representatives from government bodies, etc. The roundtable addressed the role of the media in uncovering and describing corruption in specific cases and as a phenomenon, discussing best practices and ethical violations. The duty of the media vis-à-vis the public in this aspect was also addressed, bringing some good, though few examples of investigative journalism. The need to further develop this journalism genre was emphasized by the participants, along with the need for a better cooperation among journalists, PR of the government bodies, and NGOs. The monitoring and roundtable were organized by AMI with the support of USAID.

TRAINING COURSE ON INTERNATIONAL REPORTING

A training course on international reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 25-29, with the participation of 15 reporters and editors from both print and electronic mainstream media. The course aimed to address the main topics of interest in international affairs reporting for the Albanian public, focusing on the main principles of reporting on these issues and providing as much background information to the reporters as possible. Some of the topics addressed in the course of the training were Kosovo issue, focusing on the positions of USA, Russia, EU, and the regional context, the relations between the West and Russia, EU enlargement and the future of Turkey and Western Balkans, the transatlantic relations, the global warming and geopolitics of energy, NATO in the global context, terrorism and its impact, etc. A series of well-known diplomats and experts introduced the topics, such as Besnik Mustafaj, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rexhep Mejdani, ex-President of Albania, Kastriot Islami, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ferit Hoxha, General Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Piro Misha, director of the Institute of Dialogue and Communication. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of NAB.

“MEDIA DEONTOLOGY” PUBLISHED

The latest arrival in the Albanian journalists’ library is the book “Media Deontology” by Claude-Jean Bertrand. This publication constitutes the main basic collection of media accountability system and tools, being a unique and comprehensive guide in the area of professional dilemmas in this aspect. Apart from addressing the significant distinctions within the content disseminated in the realm of the media and the main principles and values that permeate this zone, the author also addresses the deontology of the journalist’s profession. This part deals in particular with the codes of ethics, their peculiarities in the media they are applied to, and their implementation and interpretation in practice. The book also lists a vast range of tools that make up the so-called media accountability system, serving the public interest and further professionalism of the media. Apart from offering this system, the author also offers a critique of this system and analyzes the main hindrances for a smooth functioning of this system. The publication of this book was realized by AMI with the support of USAID.

CONSULTATION FORUMS ON MEDIA AND CHILDREN

In the framework of a project aiming to establish professional guidelines in media’s coverage of children, Albanian Media Institute continued the organization of forums with stakeholders on June 14-15. The first forum involved media representatives and youth organizations. The participants became familiar with the assessment of gaps in the applicable legislation with regard to media and children, as well as with the set of professional guidelines developed by the workgroup in this aspect. In addition, Julinda Gjika, the head of the Youth Parliament, presented the structure of this organization, the main problems they had perceived when covering youth and children in the media, as well as tips on how to improve in this regard. Afterwards the journalists discussed with the representatives of the Youth Parliament their own practice when covering children and youth, presenting many ethical problems and dilemmas. Specific attention was paid to the need for a closer bond among these two groups, along with the stress for a greater involvement from each party in improving reporting on children and youth.

The second consultation forum took place on June 15, involving media representatives and judges, prosecutors, and other persons familiar with cases of juvenile justice and crime. The meeting aimed to discuss the problems that the representatives of the judicial system see from their own perspective in coverage of children in the media and map potential solutions. For this purpose, apart from becoming familiar with the assessment of gaps in the applicable legislation regarding media and children and the set of professional guidelines, the participants also were introduced by Asim Vokshi, judge in the Tirana Court, to the main limitations imposed to the judges because of duty when communicating to the media and the hindrances it poses for the reporting of these cases. The forum provided a way for an exchange of experiences, views, and opinions among these two groups equally important to children. These forums are organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

“MEET THE PRESS” – A TV DEBATE

A debate on media ethics was broadcast in the public broadcaster on June 25. This debate was a program where well-known journalists and analysts discussed ethical behavior and reviewed ethical and unethical coverage of current news events. Lutfi Dervishi (who is one of the authors of the Albanian Code of Ethics) moderated the show with the title "Meet the Press" and well-known journalists and analysts Mark Marku, Ermal Hasimja, Sami Neza and Aleksander Cipa participated. This was a 45-minute open and free discussion, which focused on the main problems of the implementation of the Code of Ethics, on discrepancies between theory and practice, on unfair competition etc. The debate was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of USAID.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON COMMUNICATIONS

The media briefing on electronic communications took place on June 22 at the Albanian Media Institute and marked the conclusion of the briefing series on international documents that affect media. The participants were briefed on the regulatory framework for the electronic communications sector and the main documents that provide the rules in this area, such as Framework Directive, Access and Interconnection Directive, Universal Service Directive, Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, etc. Representatives from the Regulatory Entity of Telecommunications introduced the participants to the main principles of regulation in this area and the expected impact on the consumer. In addition, they explained the main provisions that exist in Albanian law in this area, their implementation and the current situation in the market. Afterwards the participants and lecturers discussed the expected changes with the impending adaptation of the EU regulatory framework into Albanian law in this area, as well as the main existing hindrances and difficulties in the country for the implementation of this regulation. The media briefing series was organized by AMI with the support of USAID.

PUBLICATION OF COLLECTION OF ESSAYS ON MEDIA ETHICS

“Discussion on Ethics: A collection of essays and articles on contemporary journalism’s ethics,” is the latest AMI publication. This publication consists in a collection of essays and articles from well-known personalities in contemporary journalism, or pieces that address controversial media coverage in important moments of history from the ethical point of view. The book is intended to tackle ethical dilemmas that emerge in journalism as viewed from several angles, describing as many topics and situations as possible, including privacy versus public interest, protection of sources of information, freedom of speech and bad laws, reporting on religion, defamation laws and their effects on journalism, new technologies and their ethical implications, self-censorship, politics and ethical journalism, etc. This collection brings the personal experience in ethical crossroads from different parts of the world, aiming not at offering solutions, but providing points of views and perspectives that would serve for a reflection on further professional development. The publication of this book was realized by AMI with the support of USAID.

INTERNSHIPS OF MINORITY MEDIA JOURNALISTS IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee has initiated the facilitation of minority media reporters’ internships in the mainstream media. In June, two reporters from Greek minority media worked for two weeks as interns in two daily newspapers, Albania and Korrieri. After being appointed the editor-in-chief as a mentor, the minority media reporters worked as reporters on a daily basis, producing articles that covered aspects of minority life in the country. These internships will continue and will involve journalists from all minority media in the country.

ALBANIAN PHOTOGRAPHER RECEIVES OSCE AWARD

Gent Shkullaku, a well-known photograph in Albanian press, received the second prize in the competition organized by OSCE on the topic “Earth and water, protecting our fragile environment.” Shkullaku was given the prize by the Ambassador of Spain in Tirana on June 25, in view of Spain’s presidency of OSCE this year. The competition took place among 1724 photos presented by 36 photographers from OSCE member states. The photo in question pictured a petrol tank with an enormous amount of oil, burning in the coastal city of Shengjin.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING FOR VLACH MINORITY MEDIA

After a research organized by AMI, the problems of newspaper management, sales, advertising, and marketing are among the main existing problems. In addition, minority media ranked training and assistance on using new technologies, Internet, etc, as a basic need. For this reason, AMI started a series of in-house training for minority media, the first course of which started in June 14, lasting four days. The training was conducted by Mitrulla Thodhori, IT specialist, and consisted in helping persons who take care of Vlach publications in improving their professional skills, such as helping them to solve problems or gaps in usage of their facilities as computer, printer, connecting to the Internet etc., installing the more updated software they need and also expanding their knowledge with the recent ones, coaching them on how to use this software, etc. The whole course was built on an as-needed basis, responding to the needs and requirements of the minority media. The training also included distribution of software CD and useful materials. The training was supported by Swedish Helsinki Committee.

WORKGROUP ON MEDIA ETHICS AND CHILDREN EXPERIENCE DANISH BEST PRACTICES IN CHILDREN AND MEDIA

In the framework of a project aiming to establish professional guidelines in media’s coverage of children, a group made of media editors, persons involved in the Code of Ethics’ drafting, the National Council of Radio and Television, and the Albanian Media Institute, carried out a study trip in Denmark on June 5-8, in order to become familiar with the best practices in the areas of media and children in this country. During their stay, they visited several organizations dealing with children and media, such as Media Council for Children and Young People, Save The Children Denmark, Radio and Television Board, the National Council for Children, etc. In addition, the group visited the most important media outlets in Denmark, such as largest daily Jyllands-Posten, public broadcaster DR-Danish Broadcasting Corporation, and daily Kristeligt Dagblad. The study trip was organized by Albanian Media Institute and Danish School of Journalism, with the support of UNICEF.


AMI NEWSLETTER – July 2007


HEAVY FINE ON THE BIGGEST ALBANIAN MEDIA GROUP

On 13 July 2007 Albanian tax authorities charged Top Media, the largest media group in Albania, with a huge fine of EUR 13 million for fiscal fraud. According to the tax police the various companies that are part of Top Media had not been audited for several years and their payments had been minimal and were not in accordance to the company’s known revenues. Moreover, tax police claimed Top Media has not been fully cooperative during the inspections because the company has withheld documents and refused to give access to the tax police to their offices. In a round table with stakeholders and opinion makers, the company denied the claims, arguing that due access was given to the tax authorities and it was them that did not behave lawfully and did not respect the report’s deadlines. They declared that the fine was premeditated and that the move was aimed at silencing the criticism against the government and the Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

This is the first fine of these dimensions given in Albania. Members of the Albanian Union of Electronic Broadcasters, The Union of Journalist and the League of Professional Journalists reacted immediately after the news about the fine was made public and signed a petition against the fine. In a protest against the heavy fine most TV stations in Albania went blank in a synchronized manner for 15 minutes, apart from broadcasting a message on the need to protect free speech. In addition, hundreds of Albanian journalists and citizens protested on 16 July in front of the office of the prime minister, blowing horns and whistles, accusing this fine imposed by the government as an attempt to gag free speech at the country’s principal and most popular television station. The fine was condemned also by numerous Albanian non governmental organizations and several international institutions and organizations.  Due to the substantial opposition that the fine has encountered the government seems to have reconsidered the position and to have currently withdrawn from forcing the fine. 

LOCAL ROUNDTABLE ON MEDIA INDEPENDENCE

A roundtable on the issues of media ownership, transparency, and independence was organized in Shkodra on July 18, with the participation of 25 media directors, editors, and journalists from the region. The keynote speakers were Remzi Lani and Lutfi Dervishi, media analysts. The discussion with the participants focused on the issues of media ownership and the way it affects media content, as well as on the situation and need to render sources of media ownership and funding more transparent. The relation of media owners to journalists was of a particular concern in the discussion, in view of the lack of regular work contracts and the general climate of instability in the labour market. In addition, the participants shared their concern that local media finds itself under heavier pressure than central media, since the local government as a rule is more sensitive to criticism and reacts more severely.

On the other hand, the problems of transparency of ownership are more sensitive also for the local media, which, receiving little attention, risks being less transparent and financed by unclear sources. The need for greater solidarity among journalists and for a better organization in protecting their rights was also discussed in this framework. This roundtable was organized in the framework of a project on media independence, implemented by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union. These roundtable discussions on the topic will continue in other regional media centres.

PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES ON CHILDREN’S COVERAGE FINALIZED AND MADE PUBLIC

The professional guidelines on media coverage of children were finalized and made public during a press conference on July 25, attended by representatives of the mainstream media in the capital. The finalization of these professional rules for an ethical coverage was made after discussions and suggestions made by the participants in the consultation forums with representatives of the media, judicial system, social workers and child psychologists, and youth organizations. The rules were drafted by a work group after consulting the main codes of ethics and special rules on covering children from the main established democracies in Europe and beyond. In spite of the lack of a self-regulation body to monitor the implementation of these guidelines, in general the media has expressed an agreement on the need to improve coverage of media children and greater protection for children. These rules will also be part of the curricula of the Department of Journalism at the University of Tirana, raising awareness among aspiring journalists on the need to protect and better cover children. This project has been implemented by the Albanian Institute with the support of UNICEF.

EBU ASSISTS PUBLIC BROADCASTER WITH THE STRATEGY FOR ITS REFORM

European Broadcasting Union has assisted TVSH, the Albanian public broadcaster, in drafting the Development Strategy for the years 2008-2010. This document aims to achieve the full transformation of TVSH into a public broadcaster. So far, TVSH has not fulfilled its mission as a public broadcaster and has been viewed by the media community as highly influenced by political developments in its content. In addition, the strategy will address the need for reform in face of the mounting competition with commercial TV stations, which have developed significantly in the meantime. The strategy was also presented to the Prime Minister on July 17, who recognized the need for TVSH to adapt to the evolving needs and technologies. The strategy will be made final in August.

WORKSHOP ON CORRUPTION REPORTING

A workshop on corruption reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 18-20, with the participation of political reporters from the mainstream media in the country. The topic of corruption is one of the main topics of the political and media debate in Albania, recognizing the special role of the media both in discovering corruption affairs through investigative journalism, and also in shaping public perceptions on this phenomenon. In order to address the situation and the media role, the first speaker was Kreshnik Spahiu from the Albanian Coalition Against Corruption. He described the situation of corruption in the country, bringing rankings of reports from international organizations dealing with this issue, as well as surveys of public opinion in this area. Spahiu then continued with the analysis of the main sectors in the country in light of their corruption, such as the judicial sector, the health one, etc, describing the roots of corruption and discussing with participants any solution. The second lecturer was Ditmir Bushati, director of Agenda Institute, who focused on corruption and its effect on democracy, both from international perspective and national one. He described the anti-corruption strategies and their effect on consolidation of democracies, focusing on four levels, such as ideology, institutions, civil society and culture. Anti-corruption was also analyzed vis-à-vis fundamental human rights, with specific examples from Albania and the region.

The third lecturer was Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle correspondent, who addressed the role of the media in uncovering and describing corruption in specific cases and as a phenomenon, discussing best practices and ethical violations. The duty of the media vis-à-vis the public in this aspect was also addressed, bringing some good, though few examples of investigative journalism. The need to further develop this journalism genre was emphasized by the participants, along with the need for a better cooperation among journalists, PR of the government bodies, and NGOs. This workshop was organized in the framework of a project on media independence, implemented by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

CHAIR OF ITALIAN PRESS FEDERATION VISITS ALBANIA

Franco Sidi, President of the National Federation of the Italian Press, visited Albania in mid July, aiming to exchange contacts and experiences with the Albanian media. During this visit he held meetings with editors and directors of the main media in the country, representatives of the Albanian Media Institute, the Prime Minister, and civil society representatives. After receiving information in these meetings on the main media developments in Albania recently, the legal reforms and current situation, Sidi explained the mission and functioning of the organization he chairs, as well as its role on the independence of Italian media.

INTERNSHIPS OF MINORITY MEDIA JOURNALISTS IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee continued the facilitation of minority media reporters’ internships in the mainstream media. In July, three other reporters from Greek minority media worked for two weeks as interns in three daily newspapers, Shqip, Koha Jone, and Gazeta Shqiptare. After being appointed the editor-in-chief as a mentor, the minority media reporters worked as reporters on a daily basis, producing articles that covered aspects of minority life in the country. These internships will continue and will involve journalists from all minority media in the country.

TRAINING ON NATO REPORTING

A training course on NATO reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on July 11-13, with the participation of journalists from the mainstream print and electronic media. The course aimed at raising awareness on the main issues of NATO integration and NATO’s mission, and at discussing ways of reporting these issues in the media. The first lecturer was Shaban Murati, ex-Ambassador of Albania to Sweden and expert of international affairs, who 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 Albert Rakipi, director of Institute of International Relations, who addressed NATO’s role since the Cold War and the potential scenarios for its future, focusing on NATO’s restructuring and enlargement and its new role after 9/11. He paid special attention to the Riga Summit and the issues discussed there, such as terrorism, relations with Russia, future enlargement, the trial of Afghanistan, etc.

The third lecturer was Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Minister of Defense and ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. 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,” Hajdaraga 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 training course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Tirana.

PUBLICATION ON MEDIA AND ANTI-CORRUPTION

“Media and anti-corruption agenda” is the latest publication on the media scene. This is a book written by Gerti Shella, a TV journalist, who analyses television, politics and civil society from the communication point of view. The study was made in cooperation with Artan Fuga, well-known academic in the areas of philosophy and communication in the country. The book is an analysis of TV productions, focusing on three fundamental problems of contemporary democracy, such as role of media in anti-corruption coverage, parameters of confrontation in the media of civil society and politics, and the semantic and media approach in the anti-corruption agenda. The study also develops ten indicators that enable an objective assessment of the media actors, focusing on the performance of media and civil society vis-à-vis public interest, their articulation of the problem, the generation of ideas, etc.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING FOR GREEK MINORITY NEWSPAPER

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee organized an in-house training for one of the main Greek newspapers in the south. A four-day training based on technical assistance took place on 23-26 July at the paper’s newsroom in Saranda. This training aimed to help journalists of “I foni tis Omonias” newspaper on technical problems they meet during they every day work. Some of the main topics covered by this training were: installing, configuring and teaching in using Internet and e-mail; some elementary knowledge on design and layout; assistance on using the PC and maintaining them; installing new programs and giving those different programs CD-s; other questions-answers sessions. These in-house training will go on with other minority media.

REGIONAL INVESATIGATIVE JOURNALISM AWARDS

The Regional Centre for Media Training and Studies, based in Gjirokastra, proclaimed the awards for investigative journalism after a competition for the journalists in the region. Since the announcement for the competition on December 2006 the jury examined 65 portfolios submitted by journalists working in the region. The pieces submitted addressed cases of abuse and corruptive affairs. This project aimed at exposing the phenomenon of corruption in the South of the country and in raising awareness among public opinion on this issue. The competition covered the districts of Gjirokastra, Saranda, Fier, and Permet and distributed seven awards. The project was supported by USAID.

CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A forum aiming to discuss the proposed amendments of Law on Access to Information took place on July 11 in Tirana, gathering media and civil society representatives. The main objective of this forum was to discuss the proposed amendments that Open Society Justice Initiative and Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions had prepared to present to the Parliament. One of the main proposals in this bill is to reduce the time allowed to receive information from public authorities to 10 working days instead of the present 40-day deadline. Another proposal was related to the establishment of public information offices in every institution and to the determination of specific remuneration procedures for violation of the law. In addition, the proposal urges for a clear definition of “official documents” in order to avoid any ambiguity and establish the higher public interest as the main criterion for disclosing official information. This forum was organized by Open Society Justice Initiative and Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions.


AMI NEWSLETTER, August-September 2007


NEW MEMBERS OF REGULATORY BODIES ELECTED

The Parliament elected the new members of National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) and Steering Council of TVSH, the public broadcaster. The voting of September 24 resulted in the election of three new members of NCRT and four new members in Steering Council. Parliament also elected Mesila Doda, Deputy Chair of NCRT, as chair of this council, after the resignation of former chairman Ledi Bianku three months ago. This voting finally realized the full constitution of these regulatory bodies after the agreement of the ruling majority with the opposition to change the formulas of members of these bodies. Even though the agreement dates back from August 2006, the voting on this issue took place a year after, sometimes causing difficulties in the activity of these bodies.

OSCE ALBANIA SUBMITS NEW ANNUAL REPORT

OSCE Presence in Albania submitted its annual report on Albania to the OSCE Permanent Council on September 20, addressing also the issue of media developments. The report stated that although the law on digital broadcasting was commended both by the European Commission (EC) and the CoE, the NCRT’s ability to implement the Law without an updated analogue frequency plan, remains a concern. Also, a comprehensive review of the electronic media law has been launched with international assistance. The report focuses on the changes of formulas of regulatory bodies of media and the action of regulatory bodies to shut down illegal transmitters. In addition, the report addresses another media related controversy, which arose when a leading media group - known for its non-licensed digital broadcasting - was targeted with tax inspections and was later fined some 11 million EURO for tax evasion. Finally, the OSCE reports that the period has also brought about major changes in the ownership of particularly the electronic media, some not being sufficiently transparent and being followed by investigations or litigation by parties.

LOCAL ROUNDTABLE ON MEDIA INDEPENDENCE

A roundtable on the issues of media ownership, transparency, and independence was organized in Korca on September 7, with the participation of 25 media directors, editors, and journalists from the region. The keynote speakers were Remzi Lani, media expert, and Aleksander Cipa, head of the trade union of Albanian journalists. The discussion with the participants focused on the issues of media ownership and the way it affects media content, as well as on the situation and need to render sources of media ownership and funding more transparent. The relation of media owners to journalists was of a particular concern in the discussion, in view of the lack of regular work contracts and the general climate of instability in the labour market. In addition, the participants shared their concern that local media finds itself under heavier pressure than central media, since the local government as a rule is more sensitive to criticism and reacts more severely. The need for greater solidarity among journalists and for a better organization in protecting their rights was also discussed in this framework. This roundtable was organized in the framework of a project on media independence, implemented by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union. These roundtable discussions on the topic will continue in other regional media centres.

MONITORING ON PRIME TIME NEWS EDITIONS

A monitoring on prime time news editions of TVSH, the public broadcaster, and Top Channel, one of the most popular TV stations, was carried out for the month of April 2007. The findings of this monitoring were presented to the editors of these TV stations separately and then in a press conference on September 27. The prevailing topic was politics, which occupied 25% of broadcasting time for TVSH, and 15% for Top Channel. The stations devoted a similar percentage of coverage to economy, while both stations had a scarce coverage of topics such as culture, youth, science, religion, etc. The monitoring found that the selection of prime time news, when viewed against the backdrop of specific developments, point to a specific agenda that sets the news criteria. The agenda’s main priority, as the very order, selection, and sources of news show, is very close to the agenda of the government or politics in general or to that of the TV management and its interests at the moment. As a result, the TV stations’ following of the above priorities and interests has its toll on social issues and representation, as well as the diversity of topics that is offered to the public.

WORKSHOP ON LABOUR RELATIONS IN THE MEDIA

A workshop on labour relations and their enforcement in the media field took place at the Albanian Media Institute on September 19-21, with the participation of 15 journalists from Tirana and other cities. The workshop aimed for journalists to become familiar with the existing legislation regarding labour relations and the situation of its implementation. The first lecturer was Rezarta Cenaj, lawyer, who explained the main legal provisions in this area, including the Constitution, the international treaties and conventions, the Code of Labour, and other relevant laws. The main issues addressed were related to the work contracts, salaries, vacation time, working conditions, etc. The second lecturer was Aleksander Cipa, head of the trade union “Union of Journalists,” who focused on the situation of trade union movement in the country. He discussed with the journalists the reasons why this movement has been so weak and the attempts to strengthen it, especially in negotiations with the Ministry of Labour for enforcing work contracts in the media area. The final lecturer was Besa Sollaku, head of statistics’ department at the Supreme Inspectorate of Labour. After providing a brief overview of the emergence and evolution of this body, she focused on their attempts to monitor and enforce proper labour relations in the country. The participants presented their concerns regarding the fact that most of them lack work contracts and hence security regarding their jobs. This workshop was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

INTERNSHIPS OF MINORITY MEDIA JOURNALISTS IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee continued the facilitation of minority media reporters’ internships in the mainstream media. In September, a reporter from Macedonian minority media worked for two weeks as intern in daily newspaper Panorama. After being appointed the editor-in-chief as a mentor, the minority media reporters worked as reporters on a daily basis, producing articles that covered aspects of minority life in the country. These internships will continue and will involve journalists from all minority media in the country.

TRAINING ON NATO REPORTING

A training course on NATO reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on September 12-14, with the participation of journalists from the mainstream print and electronic media. The course aimed at raising awareness on the main issues of NATO integration and NATO’s mission, and at discussing ways of reporting these issues in the media. The first lecturer was Shaban Murati, ex-Ambassador of Albania to Sweden and expert of international affairs, who 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 Ferit Hoxha, General Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who addressed NATO’s role since the Cold War and the potential scenarios for its future, focusing on NATO’s restructuring and enlargement and its new role after 9/11. He paid special attention to the Riga Summit and the issues discussed there, such as terrorism, relations with Russia, future enlargement, the trial of Afghanistan, etc. The third lecturer was Xavier Vidal-Folch, deputy director of “El Pais.” He addressed the issue of reporting on NATO from the foreign reporter’s point of view, especially when located in Brussels. He focused on such issues as finding and preserving sources of information, conveying the perception of your country in EU, the importance of collaborating with colleagues, ways of sifting through tons of information, etc. He also discussed with the participants the difficulties when reporting on NATO, especially regarding information that may be considered classified. This training course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Tirana.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING FOR MACEDONIAN MINORITY RADIO

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee organized an in-house training for the only minority radio, Radio Prespa. A four-day training based on technical assistance took place on 18-21 September at the radio station in Prespa. This training aimed to help employees of Radio Prespa with technical problems they meet during their every day work. Some of the main topics covered by this training were: installing, configuring and teaching in using Internet and e-mail; some elementary knowledge on design and layout; assistance on using the PC and maintaining them; installing new programs and giving those different programs CD-s; other questions-answers sessions. These in-house training will go on with other minority media.

SEMINAR ON INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

A seminar on investigative journalism was organized in Tirana with the participation of 30 journalists from both print and electronic media. The seminar aimed to discuss main issues and problems of investigative journalism and share experiences with other journalists from the region. Lecturers included Sasa Lekovic from Investigative Journalism Center, Zagreb, Remzi Lani, AMI director, journalists Altin Raxhimi and Lutfi Dervishi, director of “Fiks fare” program in Top Channel TV, Filip Cakuli, Nevena Rsumovic, editor of NetNovinar, and Gent Ibrahimi, media lawyer. The main issues discussed were ethical dilemmas in investigative reporting, economic problems when engaged in this reporting, steps to completing an investigative story, Computer Assisted Reporting in investigation, access to information and investigative journalism, etc. The seminar was organized by SEEMO, in cooperation with Albanian Media Institute, and NetNovinar, with the support of Austrian Development Cooperation.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A seminar on domestic violence and media coverage of this topic was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 27-28 with the participation of 20 journalists engaged in reporting of social issues and crime. The seminar aimed at identifying the main problems and trends when reporting on women and on domestic violence. First lecturer was Ilda Londo, researcher at Albanian Media Institute, who presented a monitoring of a magazine and its portrayal of gender roles and image of women in society. In addition, the participants brought their own experience and problems with information in covering domestic violence. This topic was further broached by Lutfi Dervishi, journalist, who explained the main provisions and approach of Albanian Code of Ethics in this area, bringing specific examples from media clipping. Journalists became familiar with problems of reporting on domestic violence from the perspective of NGOs dealing with this particular issue, represented by Eglantina Gjermeni, head of association Gender Alliance for Development, and Kosta Barjaba, social scientist. They presented what they thought were the main deficiencies and ethical problems when reporting on domestic violence, discussing with reporters ways to improve this sensitive issue. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute and the association “Useful to the Albanian Women.”

ROUNDTABLE ON REPORTING EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

Albanian Media Institute and AGENDA Institute organized a roundtable with media representatives and experts of EU integration on September 11. The roundtable marked the initiation of a project that aims to realize in-depth reporting on topics of EU integration and train local journalists on this topic, as well. The roundtable aimed to identify the main problems and trends when reporting on this issue and seek solutions for improvement in this area. This roundtable gathered the opinions and interests of both media editors and representatives of government and civil society involved in or monitoring Albanian’s integration process. The roundtable resulted in the discussion and determination of topics that will be covered in supplements in the main daily newspapers in the country. This project is supported by Soros Foundation, Albania.

EXPERIENCED SPANISH JOURNALIST LECTURES ON EU ENLARGEMENT

The Embassy of Spain, with the cooperation of Albanian Media Institute, organized a lecture on the topic “Deepening and enlargement in the process of European Construction” on September 13. Lecturer was Xavier Vidal Folch, former correspondent in Brussels and current Deputy Director of “El Pais.” The lecture aimed at examining issues such as the next European Council’s discussions on reforms and the ratification of the new Treaty of Reform and hence the European Construction project. The lecture’s objective was for Albanian civil society and media representatives to become familiar with the latest developments and issues in this area and expand the debate on EU in the country.

WELL-KNOWN POLITICAL SHOW CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY

“Opinion,” a weekly political show by Blendi Fevziu, a well-known journalist, celebrated its 10th anniversary on September 5. Initially broadcast at the public television and then moved to commercial national TV Klan, the show has been broadcast every Thursday for ten years in a row. The show addresses the most salient issues of the week, having as participants important politicians, journalists, and analysts.


AMI NEWSLETTER, October 2007


PRESS FREEDOM IN ALBANIA IN DECLINE ACCORDING TO REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

Reporters Without Borders has recently published the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007 for the sixth year running. This report shows a notable decline of the press freedom in Albania, which is indicated to be in the last position in Europe. The reports of this organization in the recent years have pointed out a negative trend with regards to the media conditions in Albania. From the 34th position in 2003, Albania has moved down to the 87th position in 2007, next to countries like Cambodia and Niger. The report shows that only during the year 2006-2007 the country has gone 7 positions lower. Politicians from opposition parties have blamed directly the government for the deterioration of the media environment in Albania. They have stated that worsening of the freedom of press in the country is mainly attributable to the fact that the current government has undertaken several selective politicized actions against media operators that have manifested clear criticism towards the government. In addition, the situation of the media in Albania has attracted substantial international attention during the last period, when 15 of the 17 members of the parliamentary commission on education and means of public information were invited in Strasbourg earlier this month to discuss with representatives of the European Union and of the Council of Europe about the current situation of the media in Albania.

NCRT PENALIZES OTHER TV STATIONS

The Albanian National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) has penalized two national televisions, TV Arberia (TVA) and TV KLAN for not complying with the regulations that are pertinent to the national license. NCRT has abolished the national license of the TVA and has issued a warning to KLAN TV because both TV channels have not extended their coverage of territory as specified by the contract of the national license. At the moment these two televisions broadcast in an area that is far less than what they are expected to cover and consequently the NCRT has decided to nullify the national license of TVA and alerted KLAN TV that it will undergo the same penalty if measures are not taken in due time to broadcast in accordance with the requirements of the license that this television holds. TVA has the right to appeal this decision in the court of Tirana within 30 days. In addition, NCRT has removed on October 16th the antennas of two televisions, Vizion Plus and Telesport, from Petresh in Elbasan, while TV stations removed their own antennas in Korca. The two operators that were subjected to this penalty have complained for not having been informed in advance of this action and have accused the NCRT as biased. In addition, the local employee of Vizion Plus has also claimed that he was threatened with guns by the personnel of NCRT and of bailiff office that were sent to execute this measure. The NCRT has also confiscated in the location of Kerculla in Gjirokastra, the antennas and equipment of several Greek TV channels that used to broadcast in the southern part of the country.

LOCAL ROUNDTABLE ON MEDIA INDEPENDENCE

A roundtable on the issues of media ownership, transparency, and independence was organized in Gjirokastra on October 4, with the participation of 25 media directors, editors, and journalists from the region. The keynote speakers were Aleksander Cipa, head of the trade union of Albanian journalists, and Genc Caushi, media expert. The discussion with the participants focused on the issues of media ownership and the way it affects media content, as well as on the situation and need to render sources of media ownership and funding more transparent. The relation of media owners to journalists was of a particular concern in the discussion, in view of the lack of regular work contracts and the general climate of instability in the labour market. In addition, the participants shared their concern that local media finds itself under heavier pressure than central media, since the local government as a rule is more sensitive to criticism and reacts more severely. The need for greater solidarity among journalists and for a better organization in protecting their rights was also discussed in this framework. This roundtable was organized in the framework of a project on media independence, implemented by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

WORKSHOP ON MEDIA LEGISLATION

A workshop on media legislation took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 22-24, with the participation of 15 journalists from Tirana and other cities. The workshop aimed for journalists to become familiar with the existing legislation regarding various media aspects and the situation of its implementation. The specific aspects tackled were defamation law, audiovisual policies, and access to information, viewed in a comparative manner with EU standards in this area. The first lecturer was Gent Ibrahimi, director of Institute of Public Policy Studies, who explained the main legal provisions regarding defamation, including the Penal and Civil Codes, as well as explaining the recent amendments, proposed by civil society to the Parliament in this regard. The main issues addressed were related to the main defamation court cases, the proposed decriminalization of defamation, as well as on the changing of mechanism of fines in the new amendment. The second lecturer was Ilda Londo, media researcher, who focused on the existing audiovisual policies in the country. After explaining the main obligations Albania has to meet in view of the TVwF Directive and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, she analyzed the existing policies as expressed in the electronic media law. The participants also discussed the need to change these policies in the new digital era. The final lecturer was Ilir Aliaj, director of Center for Development and Democratization of Institutions. After providing a brief overview of the international standards in access to information, he focused on the Albanian legal provisions in this area. Special attention was paid to a joint initiative with Justice Initiative to make further amendments to the law on access to information. The participants presented their problems in receiving information from public officials on the course of their work. This workshop was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

TRAINING WORKSHOP ON E-LEARNING

A workshop on e-learning and distance learning was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October29-November 1, with the participation of nine persons from Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Novi Sad. The main aim of this workshop was to introduce the participants to the main principles of e-learning and enable them to use it in their own countries in the future. Trainer Lars Borup from Danish School of Journalism, introduced the participants to the strengths and weaknesses of this kind of education, its effects, and the technical conditions needed. Further on the participants were introduced to the main elements of the education on the internet, such as the ground rules, students’ and trainers’ requirements, and specific tools in this area. The participants were able to test this knowledge by working in groups to design e-learning projects and discuss them with each other. This workshop was organized by AMI, with the support of NAB.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PRODUCTION ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 15-19, with the participation of ten journalists from print media. The reporters gathered to produce a supplement that was published in daily “Shqip” on October 20. The supplement focused on the topic of visa regime with EU countries and its imminent relief agreement, starting from January 2008. The participants worked as a team and covered different stories addressing topics related to the existing visa regime and the expected changes. The stories focused on the introduction and detailed explanation of Schengen agreement and its ramifications, the expected changes of the situation starting from next January, the current administration and financial difficulties of the visa regime, as well as the problem of identity cards. In order to assist their reporting, two key speakers were invited to address this topic: Ditmir Bushati from Agenda Institute and Ilir Qorri from European Movement. They focused on explaining and discussing with the journalists the Schengen Agreement, the Agreement for the Facilitation of the Visa Regime, and the standards Albania needs to meet for the liberalization of the visa regime. This project was supported by Soros Foundation and organized by the Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute.

INTERNSHIPS OF MINORITY MEDIA JOURNALISTS IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee continued the facilitation of minority media reporters’ internships in the mainstream media. In October, a reporter from Macedonian minority media worked for two weeks as intern in national public Radio Tirana. After being appointed the director of the radio as a mentor, the minority media reporter worked as a reporter on a daily basis, producing a radio show that covered aspects of minority life in the country.

TRAINING COURSE ON DESIGN AND LAYOUT

A training course on design and layout took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 1-5, with the participation of 12 journalists from print and electronic media. The course focused on the most useful elements of design and layout, aiming to offer basic knowledge and skills to the journalists in this area. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori focused first on the main principles of layout and design in the newspapers, offering some useful tips on how to organize the newspaper page and what are the more up to dated softwares for each element’s pages. Examples included photos, text, graphics, etc. The next two days the participants installed and learned how to use Page Maker, how to set up a page, separation in the right columns, organizing the text, etc. In the last two days the journalists worked mainly with Photoshop, photo editing, formatting, contrast, colour, etc. This professional skills training course was organized by AMI with the support of NAB.

ROUNDTABLE ON MONITORING OF CHILDREN’S REPORTING

A round table discussion on the main problems and trends of children’s reporting on both print and electronic media took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 25, with the participation of 30 journalists. The main aim of the roundtable was to discuss the findings of a one-month monitoring that AMI and National Council of Radio and Television completed in September. After Ilda Londo, media researcher at Ami, and Andrea Nathanaili, Director of Programming at NCRT, introduced the main findings and examples, the participants shared their own experience and viewpoints on the existing coverage. The discussion evolved around such ethical issues as identification of children, their portrayal in the media, intrusion into their privacy, interviewing techniques, etc. In addition, the “educational” aspect of the media regarding children and the existing or needed programs and coverage in this direction were also discussed, while the participants offered tips on filling the gaps in this particular area. The roundtable was organized by AMI, with the support of UNICEF.

TRAINING ON SPORTS REPORTING

A training course on sports reporting took place on October 8-12, with the participation of 14 sports reporters from the main print and electronic media in the country. The main aim of the training was to introduce the young reporters to the main principles and professional skills of reporting on sports, as well as debate on the development trends of this journalism genre in Albania. The lecturers included experienced sports reporters, editorialists, and columnists, such as Bashkim Tufa, Edi Dilaveri, Besnik Dizdari, and Ahmet Shqarri. They shared their experience with the participants and discussed with them the main existing problems and trends for the future. The main topics tackled during the course included the development problems of sports reporting, the peculiarity of objectivity and professionalism in sports reporting, importance of archives and books on sports, as well as the specific nature of different genres in sports reporting. The course was organized by AMI, with the support of NAB.

ROUNDTABLE ON MONITORING OF NATO REPORTING

Albanian Media Institute organized a roundtable with journalists from both print and electronic media on October 26. The main aim of the roundtable was to present and discuss the findings of an eight-month monitoring of Albanian daily newspapers regarding the coverage of issues related to NATO. This period was chosen for monitoring due to two significant events: Riga Summit in November 2006 and President Bush’s visit to Albania in June 2007. Shaban Murati, ex-Ambassador of Albania to Sweden and expert of international affairs, presented the main findings of the monitoring and discussed with the participants the trends of NATO coverage in Albanian media. Some of the topics discussed included the space devoted to NATO in the media, the need to raise further awareness on this aspect, and the urgent need to have more in-depth, critical, and analytical reporting on this issue. Important aspects to improve in the future included the coverage of internal problems and developments of the Atlantic Alliance, and stances of several member states regarding the NATO developments. This roundtable was organized by AMI, with the support of Norwegian Embassy in Tirana.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JUNIOR IN ALBANIAN

This month witnessed the publication of the Albanian edition of the National Geographic magazine, junior version. The reception to announce the event took place on October 27, with the participation of representatives from media, publishing industry, business, etc. This marks the first case when an international publication starts its Albanian edition.

JOURNALISM AWARDS ON CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

Children’s Human Rights Centre presented the awards on journalism for children’s rights for year 2006 on October 31. The winners were Kamber Velaj from “Shqip” newspaper, Alban Dudushi of Top Channel TV, and BBC radio, Albanian section. The aim of these awards is to raise awareness on print and electronic media on the need to improve coverage of children’s rights, as well as increase ethical level when covering children’s issues.

DAILY NEWSPAPERS CELEBRATE THEIR ANNIVERSARIES

“Shekulli,” reputed to be the largest newspaper in the country, celebrated its 10th anniversary in the market. “Panorama,” also considered as a widely read newspaper, celebrated its 5th anniversary in October. Both events gathered important personalities in the areas of politics, media, business, etc. The two newspapers compete with other 23 daily newspapers in the market. * This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the Albanian Media Institute and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.


AMI NEWSLETTER, November 2007


EU progress report discusses on the media sector

The EU Commission has made public on the 6th of November the annual Progress Report for Albania. The report indicated that developments in the media sector showed substantial progress, stressing that there were also various issues of concern. According to the report many media operators are influenced by political and economic interests. The report commended the new law on digital broadcasting and urged the quick adoption of the legislation proposed by the government that aims at removing custodial sentencing for defamation.

Another issue for which concern was expressed in the report was the status of the journalists. The report pointed out that there is little consideration and respect of journalists' independence by media owners, and, therefore, recommended the drafting and adoption of legislation that guarantees the independence of the journalists. In addition the report recommended further attention on legislative improvements in areas such as transparency of media ownership, defamation and the status of journalists and stressed the importance of impartiality with regards to government decisions on broadcast licensing and tax enforcement in the media sector.

Another area of concern for the report in the media field was the work of the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT). The report mentions the rigorous measures against private television operators broadcasting outside their licensed area and emphasized the fact that the NCRT's human and financial resources remain considering the wide mandate that this institution has. The report also recommends that the NCRT should draft a strategy dedicated to the development of the radio and television sector and should draft an up-to-date plan to regulate analogue and digital frequencies.

WORKSHOP ON POLITICAL REPORTING

A workshop on political reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 6-8, with the participation of 15 journalists from Tirana and other cities. The workshop aimed for journalists to become familiar with the main concepts and issues to have in mind when reporting on politics. The specific aspects tackled were the basics of political communication, the classical and contemporary actors, the role of media, and social aspects and impact of media in this overall communication. The first lecturer was Ermal Hasimja from European University of Tirana, who addressed various ways of expression or tools that politicians use for communication and how they affect media reporting. He explained various forms of political action and non-verbal communication, as well as the need to focus on the mean rather than source of communication.

The second lecturer was Artan Fuga, well-known academic, who focused on the classical actors and contemporary actors in political communication. Afterwards he discussed with the participants the myth of objectivity and the role and social weight of the media as a mediator between politics and the public. He also focused on the role of political campaigns and the communication tools used, with a perspective on what media should be aware of in this ongoing communication. The final lecturer was Adri Nurellari from the European University of Tirana. He stressed the excellent media position in the process of socialization and especially in politics. He focused on the notion of agenda setting and media’s role in this, in the different manners of interpreting news and the role of media as a watchdog, especially vis-à-vis politics. He also discussed with the participants media’s role as a propagator and as a shaper of the public opinion. This workshop was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

COMPETITION PROCESS FOR NATIONAL TV LICENSE STARTS

The National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) has received on the 15th of November, the applications put forward by the media outlets that have requested to be licensed as national private televisions.  Top Channel and Vizion Plus are the two candidates competing for the national license. Their applications passed the first phase of the application and have been qualified to continue the process to the next stage. The NCRT should make its decision in 90 days.

The license to operate as a national private television has been in the centre of the political debate in Albania for a long while. The licensing process done by the NCRT has often been often accused as politicized and biased. Earlier in October the opposition has requested that both candidates, Vizion Plus and Top Channel, receive the national license, otherwise the opposition has threatened to block the competition process that was opened by the NCRT. According to the opposition both contenders comply fully with the criteria and requirements that are needed for the national license and therefore there was no reason why they shouldn't both receive the license.

TRAINING COURSE ON EU INTEGRATION IN LEZHA

A training course on various issues of EU integration took place in Lezha on October30-November 1, with the participation of 12 local journalists from both print and electronic media. The objective of this training was to introduce the participants to several prominent topics regarding EU integration, such as labor relations, visa regime, agriculture, etc. On the first day Aleksander Cipa, head of the trade union of Albanian journalists, and Agim Doksani, coordinator at Albanian Media Institute, addressed the main problems facing press today from the perspective of infrastructure and labor market. The discussion with the participants focused on the issues of media ownership and the way it affects media content, as well as on the situation and need to render sources of media ownership and funding more transparent. The relation of media owners to journalists was of a particular concern in the discussion, in view of the lack of regular work contracts and the general climate of instability in the labor market.

On the second day the participants became familiar with the issues of agriculture in terms of the agreements that Albania and EU have signed, the ensuing obligations, as well as the benefits that may derive for agriculture in the country. Lecturers were Florian Xhafa from Agenda Institute and Blerina Raca, GTZ expert at the Ministry of Integration. They discussed with the local journalists specific manners of improving reporting in this area, examining specific examples. On the last day the training focused on the Schengen agreement and the ensuing obligations for the Albanian state, addressing especially the agreement for facilitation of visas. Lecturers were Ditmir Bushati and Ilir Qorri from Agenda Institute. After a brief historical introduction of the agreement, the lecturers focused on the distinction between facilitation and liberalization of the visa regime, along with the categories that benefit from this regime. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute and supported by Soros Foundation.

MONITORING AND ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON CULTURAL REPORTING

Albanian Media Institute organized a roundtable with 20 journalists from both print and electronic media on November 14. The main aim of the roundtable was to present and discuss the findings of a one-month monitoring of five main Albanian daily newspapers regarding the coverage of cultural events and issue.  Virgjil Muci, expert on literature and culture, presented the main findings of the monitoring and discussed with the participants the trends of cultural reporting in Albanian media. Some of the topics discussed included the space devoted to culture in the media, manners of writing book reviews and critical reviews in general, the choice of sources of information, the role of interviews with artists, etc. Other keynote speakers in the discussion were Piro Misha, director of Institute of Dialogue and Communication, and Gezim Qendro, ex-director of National Gallery of Arts. The discussion focused on the main trends of reporting on culture and on ways of improving on the situation. The speakers stressed the urgent need for specialized critical reviews of different artistic genres and the absence of editorials on culture. The ratio between local culture and global one was another topic that was discussed in the roundtable, along with comparative coverage of culture in different media. This roundtable was organized by AMI, with the support of ProHelvetia.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT ON EU INTEGRATION

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on November 12-16, with the participation of ten journalists from print media. The reporters gathered to produce a supplement that was published in daily “Standard” on November 19. The supplement focused on the topic of agriculture and the manner the integration process affects this important sector. Lecturers Florian Xhafa from Agenda Institute and Blerina Raca from Ministry of Integration addressed the sector of the ASA agreement pertaining to agriculture. They focused on the obligations that the country faces in view of this agreement, the issues of food safety, the standards that must be met for exports, agreements with other countries in the region, etc. The articles that were produced in the supplement followed along these lines for the public, except for in a more reader-friendly manner. This project was supported by Soros Foundation and organized by the Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING FOR GREEK MINORITY PRESS

In the framework of the continuous empowerment of capacities of minority media in the country, Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee organized an in-house training for the Greek minority newspapers in Gjirokastra. A four-day training based on technical assistance took place on 19-22 November at the newsroom of “Romiosini.” This training aimed to help minority journalists with technical problems they meet during their every day work. On participants’ demand, the training consisted more on layout and design process. The participants were also introduced with the latest software used for layout, which was installed and configured in their PC-s. An important part of the training were the time they were practicing on what they learned by the training on the previous sessions. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of SHC and marked the end of a project aiming to strengthen minority media.

EU INTEGRATION TRAINING CONTINUES IN VLORA

The second training course on issues of EU integration took place in Vlora on November 20-22, with the participation of 12 local journalists from both print and electronic media. The objective of this training was to introduce the participants to several prominent topics regarding EU integration, such as labor relations, visa regime, agriculture, etc. On the first day Aleksander Cipa, head of the trade union of Albanian journalists, and Agim Doksani, coordinator at Albanian Media Institute, addressed the main problems facing press today from the perspective of infrastructure and labor market. The discussion with the participants focused on the issues of media ownership and the way it affects media content, as well as on the situation and need to render sources of media ownership and funding more transparent. The relation of media owners to journalists was of a particular concern in the discussion, in view of the lack of regular work contracts and the general climate of instability in the labor market.

On the second day the participants became familiar with the basic concept and notions of Stabilization and Association Process, its structures and monitoring process, as well as its consequences and benefits. Lecturers were Gledis Gjipali and Roden Pajaj from Agenda Institute. They discussed with the local journalists the main stages of EU-Albania relations, the government bodies involved and the document of European partnership and its relevance. On the last day the training focused on the Schengen agreement and the ensuing obligations for the Albanian state, addressing especially the agreement for facilitation of visas. Lecturers were Ditmir Bushati and Ilir Qorri from Agenda Institute. After a brief historical introduction of the agreement, the lecturers focused on the distinction between facilitation and liberalization of the visa regime, along with the categories that benefit from this regime. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute and supported by Soros Foundation.

FORUM ON KOSOVO FUTURE

The Albanian Media Institute and the Institute for International Studies organized a forum on foreign policy and security on December 10th. The topic of the forum was “Kosovo after December 10th,” and the keynote speaker was Veton Surroi, chairman of Ora movement and well-known publicist.  The lecture focused on the future political developments that are expected in Kosovo and in the region after 10 December. The participants in the forum included politicians, diplomatic representatives, editorialists, civil society representatives, journalists, etc.


AMI NEWSLETTER, December 2007


NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND INDEPENDENCE

A national conference on media ownership, pluralism, and independence was organized on December 19, with the participation of about 50 journalists, editors, columnists, journalism associations’ representatives from Tirana and other cities. The conference focused on the presentation of the research carried out on this topic by the Albanian Media Institute and on initiating a public debate on the general trends and main problems in development of Albanian media landscape. The main speakers were Ilda Londo, author of the research on the topic, who presented the process of drafting the research and its main findings, and Aleksander Cipa, head of the trade union “Union of Albanian Journalists,” who described the existing situation regarding labour relations in the media and called upon the participants for a greater involvement and participation for improving the situation. This conference marked the end of an extensive project called “Media freedom, media transparency, and media independence,” implemented by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of European Union.

PUBLICATION ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP, INDEPENDENCE, AND PLURALISM

“Media ownership, independence, and pluralism” is the latest publication of Albanian Media Institute. The publication consists of a research paper that investigates the main ownership schemes in Albanian media, their structure and changes through the years, and their impact on the media landscape and especially on media independence. The research focuses on such issues as relevant legislation and its implementation through the respective regulatory authorities, a description of the media landscape and its development through the years, following with a documentation and description of the ownership structure of the main media outlets. Other sensitive and important topics that the research has addressed include transparency of financing sources of media outlets, the advertising market and state advertising, as well as self-regulation process and status of journalists in this regard. The research has made use of official data, as well as articles, essays on the topic, and interviews with media owners, directors, editors, columnists, etc. The research was carried out by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT ON EU INTEGRATION

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on December 10-14, with the participation of ten journalists from print media. The reporters gathered to produce a supplement that was published in daily “Gazeta Shqiptare” on December 17. The supplement focused on the topic of free trade with the EU countries and the impact of the implementation of the interim agreement. Lecturers Selim Belortaja, Mimoza Agolli, Gledis Gjipali, and Aida Gugu from Agenda Institute and Albanian Center for International Trade covered different problems related to this sector. More specifically, they tackled in details and in figures the implementation of the interim agreement, the standards that need to be met for exporting goods, the ability of Albanian businesses to react to the new situation, etc. The articles that were produced in the supplement followed along these lines for the public, such as the trade of sardines, the farmers’ subsidies, complaints from the businesses, the impact on prices, etc. This project was supported by Soros Foundation and organized by the Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute.

JOURNALISTS’ TRADE UNION WARNS ON ALARMING SITUATION OF JOURNALISTS

The trade union “Union of Journalists” organized a press conference on December 8, aiming at raising awareness on the main problems that journalists face in the area of labour relations nowadays. The Union stated that in general journalists find themselves unprotected in their work, in the absence of trade union organizations within the media where they work. Apart from the lack of work contracts, the Union declared that in seven electronic media and eight daily newspapers there is a chronic delay of salaries for journalists, including one national television station. In sum, journalists find themselves completely unprotected in their profession.

The Union of Journalists called for a closer verification of journalists’ situation by the State Labour Inspectorate and other relevant authorities, as well as on legislative bodies to consider a stricter legal regulation on this issue in view of the general reform on media legislation. In addition, the Union declared year 2008 the year of solidarity, calling on all journalists to join the Union in denouncing the situation and taking measures to improve it.

MONITORING ON CHILDREN’S COVERAGE OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA

Albanian Media Institute carried out a six-month monitoring of children’s coverage in six main daily newspapers in the period July-December 2007. The analysis was both quantitative and qualitative, and also used a comparative angle with a previous monitoring on this issue, completed one year ago. Some of the main trends that the methodology addressed regarding children’s coverage was the space devoted to children, ethical coverage of extreme cases, such as natural disasters, domestic violence, accidents, etc. Another aspect that was paid attention to was that of endeavors for more in-depth reporting of topics affecting children, such as education, health, safety, etc. The analysis focused on two aspects, the professional one (ethics, sources of information, topics, etc) and the social one (the way this coverage affects society.)

The main topics that came up in the articles monitored and hence were included in the analysis were children trafficking, juvenile crime and justice, violence, education, health problems, issues related to teenager problems, etc. In general, the newspapers continue to be mostly coherent with regard to the range of topics on children covered. Apart from the range of topics covered and the information conveyed, the analysis focuses on the ethical conduct of newspapers vis-à-vis children, public interest versus privacy protection, use of sources in covering children, sensationalism versus civic journalism, etc. Overall, the monitoring concluded that children’s problems have slowly made it to the pages of Albanian dailies, in some more than in others. However, the media coverage of children is still far from regular, systematic, in-depth, and ethical one. The efforts to cover children and give them a real voice and the place they deserve are very limited, for different reasons. Instead, state bodies, politicians, and NGOs do the talking for the children. The monitoring was completed by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Save the Children.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON CHILDREN’S COVERAGE IN MEDIA

The findings of the monitoring of daily newspapers’ coverage of children issues were presented and discussed in a roundtable with the participation of journalists covering children, social issues, crime reporting, etc. The findings of the monitoring were presented by Ilda Londo and Agim Doksani from Albanian Media Institute. Arben Muka, Deutsche Welle correspondent, and reporter who has covered children and has won an award for his work in this aspect, discussed with the participants the main trends, problems, and features of media coverage of children. He discussed aspects when children are most likely to appear in the media, such as crime reporting, reporting on social and economic problems, and on special cases of talented or special children. In addition, Muka also presented the main forms of reporting on children, such as simple reports, international or national reports on children, interviews with activists and features and vox populi.

The participants and the moderators engaged then in a discussion on the main problems that journalists encounter when getting information, such as non-reliability of children, unwillingness of public sources to provide information, weak infrastructure of public relations in children’s rights NGOs, etc. Special emphasis was placed on better communication tools and relations among these organizations and media, for their mutual benefit and to the service of the public. The journalists also presented their own problems in improving coverage of children, such as lack of interest from media owners in this direction, lack of vision for the importance of following children’s issues, the tendency to sensationalism, the occasional abuse with public interest concept, etc. The roundtable was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Save the Children.

REGIONAL PUBLICATION ON BALKANS AND EU

A book with articles and essays from different journalists of the Balkan countries was published and introduced in Tirana on December 14 at the Albanian Media Institute. “Moving on: Overcoming Balkan barriers to a European future,” is a collection of investigative articles and reports on the issue of mobility. The articles show how borders and barriers still restrain development, as well as movement of people, goods, and ideas. This publication assembles ten works that have been produced in the course of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network to support a new generation of journalists from the region to quality investigation, analysis, and reporting.

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