home    I    about us     I     staff     I     news     I     publications     I     projects     I     donors and partners     I     contact us      I     albanian
Media Watch
>> Alerts and Statements
>> Briefing Papers
>> Reports
>> Research and Studies
>> Press Review
Media Research
>> Media Legislation
>> Media Ethics
>> Media Development and      Indipendence
Media Monitoring

Monitoring children coverage in albanian newspapers...
Crime and court reporting...
Education and training
    of journalists...

Corruption reporting...
Reporting and privacy...
Reporting on social issues...
                                                ... more

   Media links

National media
Albanian Telegraphic Agency
Balkaweb News Portal
Klan TV
Panorama Newspaper
Shekulli Newspaper
Shqip Newspaper
Top Channel TV
Vizion Plus TV                ... more

Foreign media
BBC
Deutche Welle
Voice of America            ... more

Albanian
media legislation
Albanian media code of ethics
Newsletters Archive
AMI Newsletters             2008

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

AMI NEWSLETTER, January 2008


PARLIAMENTARY MEDIA COMMISSION DISCUSSES AMENDMENTS ON DEFAMATION

The Parliamentary Media Commission approved in principle the amendments to the Penal and Civil Codes on libel and defamation. Both the Penal Code and the Civil Code contain articles on defamation and slander that are considered regressive in the framework of the freedom of expression. The current amendment proposes to completely repeal insult and libel from the criminal law. On the other hand, the amendment for the civil provisions on defamation seeks to establish a statue of limitations, a casual link between the contested action or statement and the perceived damage to reputation, as well as introducing a mechanism that ensures proportionality of compensation to the damage suffered. This bill is a joint initiative of the Albanian Media Institute and the Justice Initiative, New York.

TOP CHANNEL TV IS GRANTED THE NATIONAL LICENSE

The National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) granted to Top Channel TV the national license on January 21. Top Channel and Vizion Plus were the two candidates competing for the national license. Top Channel was established in 2001 and has had a rapid development ever since. Although there are no official audience surveys, Top Channel TV is acknowledged as one of the most popular TV stations in the country. The other two national televisions, in addition to the public broadcaster TVSH, are TV Klan and TVA. The license of TVA, terminating in end of 2008, was annulled by NCRT last October, but after complaint was lodged, the decision was revoked.  Both TVA And TV Klan have problems with extension of their signal in the percentage that their license conditions require them to reach.

TEAM TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT ON EU INTEGRATION

A team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 7-11, with the participation of ten journalists from print media. The reporters gathered to produce a supplement that was published in daily “Panorama” on January 14. The supplement focused on the topic of justice and internal affairs. Judicial reform is a key priority currently in the country, so lecturers Gledis Gjipali, Aida Gugu, Elvana Thaci, and Ditmir Bushati from Agenda Institute covered different problems related to these sectors. More specifically, they tackled in details the partnership documents on judicial reform, the European standards in justice, the role of the judicial system in ASA implementation, and the ongoing reform in this area in the country. Another key sector addressed during the lectures was the bailiff’s service, focusing on the deficiencies of this service and EU recommendations on this element of the judiciary system. The articles that were produced in the supplement followed along these lines, including topics such as juvenile court, need for protection of judiciary administration, bailiff service’s reform, Supreme Council of Justice, etc. This project was supported by Soros Foundation and organized by the Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute.

LOCAL TELEVISION CLAIMS LACK OF ENERGY INDICATES INDIRECT GOVERNMENT PRESSURE

A1 Television, a Tirana-based local television station, has been experiencing difficulty since mid December, due to the cut-off of electric energy by the Albanian Energetic Corporation (KESH.) According to KESH, A1 TV owes KESH 32,000 Euro, since the measuring equipment for use of energy had led to a mistake in billing. A1 TV claimed that this was extortion and refused to pay the bill, resulting in KESH cutting off energy. The television station complained at the Regulatory Entity of Energy, which found that there were some irregularities in KESH proceedings and the two sides should negotiate until they found a solution. However, KESH refused to supply back electric energy to A1 TV, refusing to obey the decision of the regulatory authority. Owners of the company claimed that this case is an indirect pressure of the government, which does not appreciate the editorial independence of these media. Reporters Without Borders also issued a declaration condemning this indirect pressure after being signalled of this case.

TRAINING ON NEW FORMS OF ONLINE JOURNALISM

The training course on latest developments of online journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 14-18, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media, as well as journalism students. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of online journalism, as well as to its latest developments. The trainers introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. The main focus was to enable participants to practice the ways they can implement these tools on their everyday tasks. The participants were introduced to the main websites of interest to journalists, as well. The trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

TRAINING ON ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING

Training on environmental reporting The training course on environmental reporting was organized on January 28-February 1, with the participation of 16 journalists from print media and students of journalism. The main aim of this course was to introduce journalists to the basic notions, tools, and perspectives when reporting on environment. For this reason, topics addressed included investigative reporting on environment and the main topics that can be covered in this area given Albania’s stage of development and its current environmental state. Importance of informing the public regarding climate change and Albania’s position or strategy in this regard was another major issue discussed. The participants were further acquainted with the right to information on environmental policies and the existing tools for accessing information in this regard. Finally, they also became familiar with the viewpoint of organizations focused on environment, along with the introduction of online publications in this area. Participants discussed with the lecturers different problems in reporting on environment, such as access to information, specific terminology, making the articles reader-friendly, etc. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

LAST SUPPLEMENT ON EU INTEGRATION IS PUBLISHED

The team reporting training took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 21-25, followed by the publication of a supplement on daily “Koha Jone” marked the completion of the series of training and publication of supplements on EU integration. A team of ten journalists from print media was trained in the course of this activity. The reporters gathered to produce a supplement that was published in daily “Koha Jone” on January 29. Lecturers Valbona Kuko, Gledis Gjipali, and Ditmir Bushati from Agenda Institute focused on the CARDS Programme and on the Instruments of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA.) More specifically, they tackled in details the aims and implementation of each program, such as strengthening of democratic institutions, increasing stability, etc. Specific attention was paid to the detailing of IPA and especially to its five components. The lecturers also explained the political and financial regulatory framework, giving examples on ways to benefit from this program. The articles that were produced in the supplement followed along these lines, reporting on the progress of implementation of these programs. So, the articles brought examples from different EU-funded assistance programs, such as PAMECA mission, programs such as INTERREG, TAIEX, and IPA, etc. The articles also tackled problems in benefiting from assistance in this area, such as translation of EU legislation, bureaucratic hindrances in applying for assistance, etc. This project was supported by Soros Foundation and organized by the Albanian Media Institute and Agenda Institute.


AMI NEWSLETTER, February 2008


NCRT GRANTS VIZION+ TV THE NATIONAL LICENSE FOR SATELLITE BROADCASTING

National Council of Radio and Television granted Vizion+ TV the national license for satellite broadcasting on February 18. Vizion Plus first started broadcasting in 1999 as a local television and expanded its coverage of territory through the years, becoming one of the main television stations in the country. The station also applied for national terrestrial license on November 2007, but the license was granted to Top Channel. Vizion+ TV is also broadcast in the digital terrestrial and satellite television.

TRAINING ON REPORTING ON CULTURE

A training course on reporting on culture was organized at the Albanian Media Institute (AMI) on February 11-15, with 15 reporters covering art and culture in the mainstream Tirana-based media. The main aim of this course was to introduce young culture reporters to new aspects of covering art and culture, diverse perspectives, and coaching them in reporting in a reader-friendly manner. Some of the topics covered by the lecturers included use of clichés or stereotypes in cultural reporting; the existence of myths in this genre, the reflection of the national identity when reporting on culture and the way that media commercialization affects cultural reporting. More specifically, participants discussed with the lecturers the situation of publication and books in the country, the state policies in this area, and compared Albanian media coverage of books and reviews to foreign ones, discussing specific examples.

Another topic of great interest for the participants was the coverage of visual arts in the media, involving the perception of reporters themselves of visual works and their interpretation of these works, both in traditional and modern art. The participants were also introduced to the main policies related to culture of the Albanian government, focusing on the range of challenges that the main national institutions in the country, like theatre, opera, etc, face nowadays. Finally, specific attention was devoted to the coverage of theatre performances by the media, addressing specific approaches a culture reporter can have in this regard. This training course was organized by AMI with the support of SHC.

ROUNDTABLE ON ETHICAL ISSUES OF ELECTRONIC MEDIA

A roundtable focusing on ethics in broadcasting was organized on February 29, with the participation of regulatory authority representatives, media experts, movie directors, analysts, and representatives of main televisions in the country. The main aim of this roundtable was to discuss some of the most significant ethical problems in television broadcasting at the moment. Keynote speakers were Fatos Lubonja, Remzi Lani, and Bashkim Hoxha from the Council of Ethics of the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT,) Mesila Doda, chairwoman of NCRT, and Mirela Oktrova, Director of Television at RTSH, the public broadcaster. The speakers focused on topics such as main trends and problems on ethics in electronic media, depiction of violence in electronic media and its effects, broadcasting of works and documentaries made during communism, with their pros and cons, and the respect for standard norms of Albanian language and electronic media’s role and impact in this regard. This roundtable was organized by NCRT, Albanian Media Institute, and Council of Ethics of NCRT.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA AND POPULISM

A seminar focused on media and populism was organized at AMI with the participation of 25 journalists from both print and electronic media on February 26-27. The seminar’s main objective was to examine and discuss media’s relations to populism tribunes and the way that media coverage affects the society in this aspect. The seminar focused initially on defining populism and identifying examples of populism-affected coverage in Albanian media. Special attention was paid to opportunistic policies followed during elections’ campaigns and the way media represents these campaigns. Lecturers discussed with participants the distinction between left or anti-global populism and right or xenophobic one. The history of the emergence of this movement and its evolution to present days was also addressed during the course. In addition, lecturers addressed with participants the role of charismatic leaders in populism movements, bringing specific historical figures. More specifically, the participants and lecturers discussed the impact of populism on democracy and society, focusing on modern examples of both East and West Europe. Lecturers for this seminar were Piro Misha, Director of Institute of Dialogue and Communication, Ditmir Bushati from AGENDA Institute, Remzi Lani, analyst, etc. The seminar was organized by AMI and supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON ETHICS IN PUBLIC AND COMMERCIAL TELEVISION NEWSROOMS

Two in-house training sessions on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics were organized in the newsrooms of TVSH, the public broadcaster, and TV Koha, one of the main television stations in the country. The TVSH training session took place on February 6-8, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. He also conducted in-house training at TV Koha on February 20-22. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom in both television stations. The trainer addressed the main ethical issues in the profession of journalism, such as accuracy, fairness, truthfulness, language used, etc. Specific attention was paid to coverage of politics as one of the most salient issues, addressing different actors, such as Government, political parties, Parliament, elections’ campaigns, etc. Coverage of specific delicate topics and groups, such as those of reporting on minors, on violence, sex, mourning, minorities, religions, gender, physically disabled persons, etc, was a particularly sensitive topic addressed during the in-house trainings. Conflicts of interests and editorial independence of Albanian media were also widely discussed by the trainer and participants, illustrating the problems with specific examples brought from the participants.

TRAINING ON NEW FORMS OF ONLINE JOURNALISM

A training course on latest developments of online journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on February 18-22, with the participation of 12 journalists from print and electronic media, as well as journalism students. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of online journalism, as well as to its latest developments. Trainers introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. In her lecture she focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

PUBLICATION ON HISTORY OF ALBANIAN RADIO

“70 Albanian radios in 70 years: 1938-2008” is a book by Arben Muka, radio journalist, correspondent of Deutsche Welle. The author presents a list of the 70 most prominent radios in Albania in the last 70 years, presenting their history, development, interviews with reporters and directors, where applicable, and photos picturing their evolution. The main aim of the author is to map the history and evolution of the Albanian radio landscape by identifying the main actors in the brief, but intense history of this medium. The publication also contains information on other radios that exist in the country and are not included in the list of 70 radios, as well as information on licensing criteria for radios in Albania. 

ONLINE JOURNALISM TRAINING

A training course focusing on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 6-8, with the participation of 10 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of online journalism, as well as to its latest developments. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. In her lecture she focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Albanian Mobile Communications.

WELL-KNOWN JOURNALIST PUBLISHES COLLECTION OF ARTICLES

Fatos Baxhaku, well-known journalist, collected his most important articles in a publication entitled “Gur.” Having worked both in print and television, this author has preferred the genre of reportage and features, portraying persons and areas all over Albania, bringing closer to the public their problems. In his reportages Baxhaku has conveyed some severe social problems that afflict Albania, bringing specific persons and groups, considered discriminated or neglected, as the heroes of his articles. This publication features a selection of the most representative articles and problems the author has covered through his journalistic career.


AMI NEWSLETTER, March 2008


REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON SELF-REGULATION

A regional conference on self-regulation took place in Tirana on March 28-29, with the participation of self-regulatory bodies from UK, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosova. The main aim of the conference was to exchange experience among participants on the main tools, problems and challenges in establishing an effective self-regulatory system or mechanism in the media. Speakers included representatives from councils of ethics from the respective countries, as well as Albanian journalists, editors, and associations’ representatives. Some of the key issues discussed in the conference were the necessary conditions for self-regulation, the relation between self-regulation and defamation, different self-regulatory mechanisms, imposition of fines or sanctions and their viability, and prospects for future efforts in the region. Participants also addressed the emerging problems of media ethics in the wake of rapid technological development and continuous change in the profession of reporters. Overall, key speakers and participants encouraged the continuation and consolidation of the self-regulation process in the country. The conference was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of SHC.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON HARMONIZATION OF ALBANIAN MEDIA LEGISLATION WITH EU STANDARDS

A roundtable on the need to harmonize legislation affecting media with the respective EU regulation was organized in Tirana. The roundtable discussed the findings and recommendations of a comparative study of Albanian legislation vis-à-vis European standards that Albanian Media Institute carried out. The main laws and acts that this study examined were the Law on Electronic Media, the Law on Access to Information, the Law on Defamation, Law on Copyright, etc. Roundtable discussions stressed the need to decriminalize defamation and libel provisions in the Albanian legislation and improve the civil provisions by further clarifying them and enabling a mechanism that rewards the remuneration proportional to the damage of reputation and other factors. The need to improve the Law on Access to Information, its timelines, and expand the modalities and range of accessing public information. Finally, various aspects of the law on electronic media were discussed, such as protection of minors, sponsorship provisions, broadcasting quotas, etc. Overall, the participants emphasized the importance of improving not only the laws, but also strengthening the implementing bodies. This roundtable and research were carried out by Albanian Media Institute with the support of SHC.

REGULATORY AUTHORITY REPORTS TO THE PARLIAMENT

National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) chairwoman, Mesila Doda, submitted the annual report of the regulatory authority on media to the Parliament on March 13. The report was criticized by the opposition, claiming that the regulator had not yet reported on two major problems, namely transparency of media financing and the national strategy for digital switchover and its consequences. Other charges made were favourable treatment in granting of licenses, biased implementation of the law and delayed implementation of digital broadcasting law. In spite of opposition complaints, the report was passed in the Parliament.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON ETHICS IN TWO NATIONAL DAILY NEWSPAPERS

Two in-house training sessions on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics were organized in the newsrooms of daily Standard and Panorama newspapers. The Standard training session took place on March 4-6, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. He also conducted in-house training at daily Panorama on March 13-15. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom in both newspapers. The trainer addressed the main ethical issues in the profession of journalism, such as accuracy, fairness, truthfulness, language used, etc. Specific attention was paid to coverage of politics as one of the most salient issues, addressing different actors, such as Government, political parties, Parliament, elections’ campaigns, etc. Coverage of specific delicate topics and groups, such as those of reporting on minors, on violence, sex, mourning, minorities, religions, gender, physically disabled persons, etc, was a particularly sensitive topic addressed during the in-house trainings. Conflicts of interests and editorial independence of Albanian media were also widely discussed by the trainer and participants, illustrating the problems with specific examples brought from the participants. These training sessions were organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

ONLINE JOURNALISM TRAINING

A training course focusing on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 11-13, with the participation of 10 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills of online journalism, as well as to its latest developments. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. In her lecture she focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Albanian Mobile Communications.

HEALTH REPORTING TRAINING COURSE

A training course on health reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 3-7, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to introduce participants to the main problems and developments of the health care system. Some of the topics addressed during the training included the harmonization of health care legislation with EU regulation, the structure of the public health institutions, the main challenges of primary health care in the country, preventing role of health institutions for epidemics, the organization of the hospital system, and health insurance policies and problems.

Other topics of interest for the participants were the existing legislation on medicine and health care and inspection, the state measures to control epidemics and other infectious diseases, the specific sector strategies for mental health, blood banks, medicine equipment, and basic services. Participants discussed with lecturers the distinctions between public and private hospitals and clinics and the Ministry’s role in supervising this sector. The financial sources of health care system were also discussed, along with the main challenges of the health insurance institutions. Lecturers came from the Institute of Public Health, the Ministry of Health, the Directory of Public Health, and the Institute of Health Insurance. This training course was organized by AMI with the support of SHC.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA TRANSPARENCY IN KORCA

A seminar on media transparency and media reporting on corruption was organized in Korca on March 18-19, with the participation of 30 local media owners, editors, and journalists. The Albanian Media Institute presented its research on media ownership and independence, discussing with the participants the main factors that influence media independence and the specific difficulties and advantages local media faces in this respect. Some of the topics discussed by lecturers were media financing, media advertisement, and transparency of funding in the media market. Participants stressed the need for transparency in the market, both in funding of the media and in guaranteeing regular work contracts for journalists as a key step in improving media ethics and independence.

Another topic addressed in the seminar was the main trends in corruption reporting. Given the pervasive phenomenon that corruption constitutes in Albanian life, public debate, and hence media coverage, lecturers discussed with journalists the main areas of corruption and on different angles of reporting on it. Some of the key issues discussed were the most recent international reports on the situation, the government efforts and plans to stall this phenomenon, the different angles and phenomena that media coverage can cover in this respect, etc. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy.

TRAINING COURSE ON NEW TECHNOLOGIES

A training course on new technologies took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 17-21, with the participation of 12 journalists from print and electronic media, as well as journalism students. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main skills in using new technologies when reporting. Trainers introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. The lecturers addressed specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS HELD IN TIRANA

The third edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival was organized in Tirana on 19-23 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. During the festival, 28 films were projected, shedding light into the fate of individuals and people living in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa, focusing on human dilemmas, pain, suffering, regret, and torture, abuses and persecutions that occur in different part of the globe. The festival was organized and supported by the International Human Rights Education Consortium, the Albanian Helsinki Committee, Swiss Cooperation in Albania, Utica College, UNICEF, Italian Development and Cooperation, German Embassy in Albania, Albanian Media Institute, OSCE,  Marubi Film and Multimedia School, etc.

TRAINING ON WEBMASTERS’ SKILLS

A training course focusing on webmasters and related skills was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 25 -27, with the participation of 10 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills related to online journalism and basics needed to act as webmasters. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. In her lecture she focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Albanian Mobile Communications.

SEMINAR ON GOVERNANCE AND ANTI-CORRUPTION INDICATORS

A seminar on reporting of governance and anti-corruption indicators was carried out on March 31-April 2, with the participation of ten NGO representatives and 15 economy reporters from print media. The aim of this seminar was to introduce the participants with the main reports and indicators on governance and anti-corruption, as well as discuss the manners of interpreting and reporting on these reports. In this context, the main topics discussed were the definitions and analytical framework of governance and anti-corruption, perception and experience surveys, evaluation instruments, comparative studies and compilation surveys. Representatives from World Bank, Transparency International, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Institute for Development Research and Alternatives presented the main studies through the years in these areas. In addition, representatives from Albanian Media Institute discussed with the participants the main findings of a monitoring of media reports on these indicators. Reporters were also engaged in different exercises in this regard, combining theory and practice. The seminar was organized by the World Bank and the Albanian Media Institute.

JOURNALIST ASSAULTED BY MP

Besar Likmeta, the Albania editor for the online publication Balkan Insight, claimed he was assaulted by Member of Parliament Tom Doshi on March 10th in Tirana. This assault followed Likmeta’s investigation concerning forged diplomas in Albania. The investigated degrees included MP Tom Doshi’s law degree from Tetovo University. The investigative reporting uncovered that Tetovo University had informed the Education Ministry that Doshi never completed his studies. Soon thereafter, Doshi’s CV was removed from the website of the Albanian parliament, and Likmeta arranged to meet Doshi at the Sheraton Hotel in Tirana for an interview. During the interview, Doshi demanded why Likmeta was investigating the story, commenting that it was “extremely brave” to pursue the matter. According to Likmeta, Doshi then attacked him, hitting him with a leather briefcase. The journalist sustained a black eye and his glasses were broken.


AMI NEWSLETTER, April 2008


GLOBAL PRESS FREEDOM IN DECLINE, FREEDOM HOUSE REPORTS

According to Freedom House global survey on press freedom, global press freedom underwent a clear decline in 2007, with journalists struggling to work in increasingly hostile environments in almost every region in the world. The decline in press freedom—which occurred in authoritarian countries and established democracies alike—continues a six-year negative trend, says Freedom House. This survey ranks Albania 105th in the world in the ratings of press freedom, as a partly free country. Although the score through the recent years changes only with one or two points, the country has gained two positions compared to the last couple of years. The country report states that the media continued to reflect a diversity of viewpoints in 2007, but key outlets tended to support one political faction or another. In addition, journalists practiced self-censorship to support the political or economic interests of their employers.

MINISTRY OF FINANCES ISSUES CONTROVERSIAL ORDER ON NEWSPAPERS’ EMPLOYEES

The latest controversy related to labour relations in the media and relations between government and the media arose with the order that the Minister of Finances issued on January 17, 2008. According to this order, after consulting with the professional associations, checking the number of insured media employees, and verifying staff numbers in the websites of the media outlets, there is a large difference between the number of employees reported as insured and the real number of employees working in this sector. In order to improve the situation, through this order the Minister of Finances authorizes the General Directory of Taxes to take immediate measures. The Order determines that national employees should have a certain number of employees insured, in accordance with the numbers of pages of newspapers. More specifically, for 16-pages newspapers, there should be 18 employees insured, for 24-pages newspapers, there should be 30 employees insured, and for 32-pages newspapers, there should be 40 employees insured.

Several publishers and journalists’ associations protested against this order, claiming that it had no legal grounds. In addition, they claimed that the Ministry has not had proper consultation in this area and hence does not have the necessary information. Moreover, they claimed that the decision to insure employees based on the numbers of pages of newspapers is arbitrary and uninformed, given that it does not account for the number of collaborators, the uneven importance among locations of pages and work done by them, and other factors involved in the production of a newspaper.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA TRANSPARENCY IN BERAT

The series of seminars focused on media transparency and media reporting on corruption continued with the seminar organized in Berat on April 22-23, with the participation of 30 local media owners, editors, and journalists. The Albanian Media Institute presented its research on media ownership and independence, discussing with the participants the main factors that influence media independence and the specific difficulties and advantages local media faces in this respect. Some of the topics discussed by lecturers were media financing, media advertisement, and transparency of funding in the media market. Participants stressed the need for transparency in the market, both in funding of the media and in guaranteeing regular work contracts for journalists as a key step in improving media ethics and independence.

Another topic addressed in the seminar was the main trends in corruption reporting. Given the pervasive phenomenon that corruption constitutes in Albanian life, public debate, and hence media coverage, lecturers discussed with journalists the main areas of corruption and on different angles of reporting on it. Some of the key issues discussed were the most recent international reports on the situation, the government efforts and plans to stall this phenomenon, the different angles and phenomena that media coverage can cover in this respect, etc. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy.

CONFERENCE ON DIGITALIZATION

National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT), in cooperation with OSCE, organized a conference on the future of digital switchover in Albania. The main aim of the conference was to discuss the future steps and strategy for digital switchover in the country, attempting to complete it until 2012. Participants were representatives of main electronic media outlets, civil society organizations, media experts, etc. NCRT presented the main scenarios envisioned in the strategy for digital switchover, aiming to also receive the feedback of participants in this regard. While for more than three years there is a fairly developed terrestrial and satellite digital platform in Albania, it has yet to receive a license. The Parliament approved the law on digital broadcasting in June 2007, but the regulatory has not yet started to license digital broadcasters.

TRAINING ON WEBMASTERS’ SKILLS

A training course focusing on webmasters and related skills was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on April 16-18, with the participation of 10 journalists from print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce journalists to the main principles and skills related to online journalism and basics needed to act as webmasters. Trainer Mitrulla Thodhori, IT expert, introduced the participants to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. In her lecture she focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Albanian Mobile Communications.

DAILY NEWSPAPER CELEBRATES 15th ANNIVERSARY

“Gazeta Shqiptare,” one of the main daily papers in the country, celebrated its 15th anniversary in the market. The celebration of this important anniversary gathered important personalities in the areas of politics, media, business, etc. This newspaper competes with 24 other daily newspapers in the market and is the only foreign-owned daily newspaper.


AMI NEWSLETTER - May 2008


PRESIDENT OF TOP MEDIA COMPANY DIES IN A CAR CRASH

Dritan Hoxha, 40, president of Top Media Company, died in Tirana on May 24, after losing control of his car. He was the founder of broadcasting company owning national Top Albania Radio and Top Channel TV, as well as an advertising agency. He was also the majority shareholder in the company that owns Digitalb, the Albanian digital satellite, terrestrial and mobile broadcasting platform.

Hoxha’s sudden death caused grief among the employees of Top Media, as well as among other Albanian media. Many Albanian media outlets and foreign ones sent consolation letters and messages. Many well-known personalities in the media, politics, and other areas appreciated his contribution to the development of Albanian media. He was considered as a revolutionary figure in Albanian media, especially with regard to the pioneering in new technologies and digital television, as well as in the high professional levels that the media he owned maintained.

CONTROVERSY OVER MEDIA COVERAGE OF DEAD MEDIA MOGUL

Media covered the accidental death of the president of Top Media company and its aftermath extensively, but many of the media outlets did not mention the fact that he was with a woman at the time of the accident and that she was also dead. This led some newspapers to write on use of double standards, claiming that newspapers chose to remain silent in this case, although they did not hesitate to intrude in personal life in other similar cases. The statement of the ruling Democratic Party, through its spokesman, fuelled the debate even more. The statement criticized the decision of media outlets and alleged that the media was censuring the news of the death and were not being fair and human to the other victim. This statement led a group of more than 120 journalists to sign a declaration that reacted against DP's statement. The journalists’ statement claimed that the Prime Minister was “leading a disparaging campaign against Albanian media,” taking advantage of the death of a girl for political means. One year ago Top Media Company was fined with € 13 million by tax police, but later this fine was withdrawn. Top Media at the time claimed this was a political attack, aiming to reduce government criticism.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA AND POPULISM

A seminar focused on media and populism was organized at AMI with the participation of 25 journalists from both print and electronic media on May 20-21. The seminar’s main objective was to examine and discuss media’s relations to populism tribunes and the way that media coverage affects the society in this aspect. The seminar focused initially on defining populism and identifying examples of populism-affected coverage in Albanian media. Special attention was paid to opportunistic policies followed during elections’ campaigns and the way media represents these campaigns. Lecturers discussed with participants the distinction between left or anti-global populism and right or xenophobic one. The history of the emergence of this movement and its evolution to present days was also addressed during the course. In addition, lecturers addressed with participants the role of charismatic leaders in populism movements, bringing specific historical figures. More specifically, the participants and lecturers discussed the impact of populism on democracy and society, focusing on modern examples of both East and West Europe. The seminar was organized by AMI and supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy.

REPORTER THREATENED BY LOCAL JUDGE

Ksenofon Ilia, an investigative journalist reporting for Fiks Fare, a TV programme addressing mainly corruption, sought to interview a judge in the District Court of Burrel on May 20. He was rejected the interview and was threatened by the judge’s brother, who was carrying a gun. Ilia insisted on asking questions and clang on to their car, while the two men started the car and ran away, causing the reporter to fall on the sideway, sustaining injuries. The High Council of Justice condemned this act and subsequently announced that legal proceedings will be initiated against the judge. A few days later, USAID, which had a project of support for the District court of Burrel, announced the interruption of this project in view of the incident.

MEDIA POLICY FORUM ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A media policy forum on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, was organized on May 30. 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 Lutfi Dervishi, well-known journalist, 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 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA TRANSPARENCY IN TIRANA

The series of seminars focused on media transparency and media reporting on corruption continued with the seminar organized in Tirana on May 6-7, with the participation of 30 editors and journalists. The Albanian Media Institute presented its research on media ownership and independence, discussing with the participants the main factors that influence media independence and the specific difficulties and advantages local media faces in this respect. Some of the topics discussed by lecturers were media financing, media advertisement, and transparency of funding in the media market. Participants stressed the need for transparency in the market, both in funding of the media and in guaranteeing regular work contracts for journalists as a key step in improving media ethics and independence.

Another topic addressed in the seminar was the main trends in corruption reporting. Given the pervasive phenomenon that corruption constitutes in Albanian life, public debate, and hence media coverage, lecturers discussed with journalists the main areas of corruption and on different angles of reporting on it. Some of the key issues discussed were the most recent international reports on the situation, the government efforts and plans to stall this phenomenon, the different angles and phenomena that media coverage can cover in this respect, etc. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy.

CONFERENCE ON CONTEMPORARY JOURNALISM PROBLEMS

A conference focused on phenomena and problems of contemporary Albanian journalism was organized in Tirana on May 30, with the participation of journalists, journalism students, academics, and media experts. Some of the topics addressed during the conference included investigative journalism and access to information, freedom of press, relation of politics to journalism, the language used, crime reporting, international reporting, self-regulation and journalists’ status, and digital media and its perspective. The conference tackled problems in Albanian language media in the region, such as the experience of conflict coverage in Macedonia, the challenges that Albanian media in Montenegro face, crime reporting in Kosovo, etc. The conference was organized by UFO university in Tirana.


AMI NEWSLETTER - June 2008


COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSIONER ON MEDIA SITUATION IN ALBANIA

Commissioner for Human Rights in Council of Europe, Mr. Thomas Hammarberg, issued a report on human rights in Albania on June 18, following his visit in the country last November. The report section on media states that while appreciating the fact that for more than two years there have been no criminal defamation cases against journalists, defamation law is still not brought in line with international standards and civil law does not constitute a proper civil defamation framework. In this context the commissioner called for decriminalization of defamation, together with necessary reforms on relevant provisions on Civil Code.

Of great concern in the report was also the need to safeguard editorial independence in the media, which remains difficult in a context where transparency of media ownership and financing remains low. The Commissioner also called for a more energetic effort at coordinating self-regulation to regulation by independent national authorities, in order to improve implementation of the law and strengthen media independence. The report also underlines that this process should also include active consultations with relevant media professionals and NGOs in the country.

MEDIA POLICY FORUM ON AUDIOVISUAL POLICIES

A media policy forum on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, was organized on June 27. The participants were briefed on the main international documents that cover audiovisual policies, such as Television Without Frontiers Directive, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, Convention on Transfrontier Television, etc. The participants also became familiar with the main aspects of Albanian legislation on this area and discussed with Andera Nathanaili, Programming Director at National Council on Radio and Television, on the way the law is implemented, the main difficulties in implementation by TV stations, the regulator’s practice in this area, etc. The participants also became familiar with the main changes that are expected to take place in the area of regulation of audiovisual policies in the overall framework of harmonization of national legislation with EU regulation. This media briefing series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

SITUATION OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA DOES NOT CHANGE, FREEDOM HOUSE REPORTS

According to Freedom House “Nations in Transit” report, recently released, the rating of independent media in Albania remains at 3.75 for the third year in a row. The report states that some of the yet unsolved problems in the media area remain the relations between media owners and government, media transparency and ownership, the relations between journalists and media owners, lack of investigative journalism, and safeguarding editorial independence. Fragmented market, coupled with limited implementation power of the regulatory authorities, have led to lack of confidence in regulatory actions and speculation on politically-biased decisions in this regard. Current media legislation reforms, such as in defamation law and law on broadcasting, have been slow to pass, causing no immediate improvement for media situation in the country, according to the report.

PUBLIC COUNSELLING CAMPAIGN ON DIGITALIZATION

National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) and OSCE Presence in Albania concluded the first stage of public counselling campaign on digital switchover in the country. The first stage included sessions of public discussion and counselling on digitalization in Shkodra, Durres, and Vlora. Media representatives in the respective areas participated in the discussions. NCRT and OSCE started this public discussion campaign after a national conference on digitalization in April. This campaigns aims at raising awareness on digital broadcasting law, strategy on digital switchover, as well as at receiving feedback from local media outlets on the main difficulties and expectations on this imminent development. Feedback gathered in this phase will be used to further refine the national strategy on digital switchover.

TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENT PUBLICATION ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

A training course that resulted in the publication of a supplement in daily “Shqip” on environmental issues took place on June 9-13 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of 20 reporters. The main aim was to introduce the participants to the main environmental issues in the country, problems and discussed solutions, as well as expected effects in this area. For this reason, the participants became familiar with the environmental strategy enforced by the Ministry of Environment. More specifically, participants were introduced to the different elements and variables measured for environmental pollution, the most problematic areas in the country, administration of garbage, protection of water resources, improvement of biodiversity, etc.

In addition, participants discussed with representatives of environmental non-governmental organizations the most pressing problems in the country in this regard and the way these are reported in the media. Participants discussed the main sources of information on this topic, the role of the media in affecting public opinion, the importance of expert opinions, etc. Important environmental cases as reported by the media were analyzed in this aspect.

After the knowledge gained during the training, the participants worked as a team to produce a supplement on environmental issues, focusing on such aspects as biodiversity at risk in several areas, pollution in the capital and other large cities, enforcement of sanctions in damages made to the environment, etc. This training session and supplement publication was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of World Bank Office in Tirana.

SEMINAR ON EU LEGISLATION ON AUDIOVISUAL AND MEDIA SERVICES

A seminar on audiovisual media services in the EU took place on June 27 in Tirana, with the participation of national regulatory authorities in this area in the country. The seminar, in the framework of TAIEX assistance, introduced the participants to the current Directive to Audiovisual Media Services Directive, its scope, novelty, jurisdiction, advertising, protection of minors, European works, etc. Participants also became familiar with other countries’ experience in this regard, such as in Latvia, UK and BBC’s dealing with the new Directive, the experience of digital television in Finland, and the way the Directive and EU regulation in general affects copyright implementation. Keynote speakers came from ministries, regulatory authorities, international organizations, and academia of several EU members.

TRAINING COURSE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

A training course on human rights took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 16-19, with the participation of 12 persons from Tirana-based print and electronic media. The aim of this course was to introduce participants to the basic human rights, main legislation and mechanisms ensuring these rights, as well as to discuss the best methods in reporting on these rights. On the first day, participants became familiar with the law on access to information and the main successes and shortcomings in its implementation in practice. Particular attention was paid to the way the law affects reporting and journalists’ work, as well as o the role of People’s Advocate in overseeing its implementation. In addition, participants became familiar with the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, in the overall context of implementation of human rights. Participants became familiar with the procedure for election of jurors, relevant case-law from the Court, reform problems, the court’s structure, etc.

Another topic discussed during the course was presumption of innocence as a cornerstone of judicial system and court reporting in the country. Participants became familiar with the notion, its history, its implementation in practice, as well as the Albanian laws that guarantee this fundamental human right. Finally, journalists discussed freedom of expression as one of the fundamental human rights and its contribution to a democratic society. Some of the aspects discussed included the distinction between opinion and facts, the concepts of censorship and self-censorship, laws limiting freedom of expression, and the current revision of the law on defamation. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Democracy Commission Program of the US Embassy in Tirana.

EXHIBITION AND WORKSHOP ON POLITICAL CARTOONS

A workshop on political cartoons took place on June 23-27 in Tirana, with the participation of students of the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana. This workshop aimed at introducing participants to the basic theories and functions of caricatures and cartooning as a means of conveying the current political and societal problems. Well-known German cartoonist Heiko Sakurai was the trainer in this workshop organized by the German-Albanian Association “Robert Schwartz.” At the end, an exhibition with the works relevant to the workshop also was opened for the public.


AMI NEWSLETTER - July 2008


JOURNALISTS’ UNION PROTESTS ON LABOUR RELATIONS

Union of Albanian Journalists organized a protest in front of the Parliament on July 14 regarding the interruption of work contracts of the employees of national commercial TVA. The Union demanded the punishment of informal labour relations in the media, stressing the need on collective contracts for journalists and a stronger implementation of the Code of Labour. Staff of TVA and other journalists and colleagues participated in the protest, demanding the establishment of an investigative parliamentary commission on labour relations in the media. This marks the first protest of its kind in the last 18 years in the developments of Albanian media, with the union warning that other protests will follow.

MEDIA POLICY FORUM ON DEFAMATION REGULATION

A media policy forum on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, was organized on July 29. The participants were briefed on the regulation of defamation, more specifically in EU and international standards in this area and the Albanian legislation and law in this aspect. After being introduced to the main principles for a legislation that would balance protection of reputation and freedom of speech, the participants discussed with the lecturers the Albanian legislation and practice in this aspect. Gent Ibrahimi, director of Institute of Public Policy Studies, explained the main legal provisions regarding defamation, including the Penal and Civil Codes, and comparing them to international standards and ECHR case-law. In addition, he explained the amendments proposed by civil society that are pending in the Parliament. The discussion focused on issues such as the main defamation court cases until now, the proposed decriminalization of defamation, as well as on the changing of mechanism of fines in the new amendment.  This media briefing series was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

TRAINING TO IMPROVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHILDREN

A training course on media coverage of children marked a project that aims to further improve the coverage of children by Albanian media and raise awareness on the drafted Rules of Professional Practice in this area. The course was organized on July 14-16, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce participants to the main legal aspects of covering children and the main mistakes media does in these cases, in addition to the frequent ethical dilemmas. The participants were introduced to the main provisions of CRC as the main document seeking to guarantee the rights of the child and with Albanian legislation on media in this regard and the existing gaps in this area. Albanian legislation in the aspects of child discrimination, child labour, right of education, juvenile justice, and the way these work and are reported in practice constituted a major source of discussion.

Another topic addressed during the course was the experience of civil society representatives in working with minors, providing specific cases addressed in the media and focusing on the way these children are affected psychologically by media coverage. Attention was also paid to the role of People’s Advocate Section on Children in improving their situation. Finally, the training focused on further elaboration of the Rules of Professional Practice in covering children in the media, focusing on previous monitoring of these issues. This discussion addressed 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, the main genres of reporting on children, along with 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. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

WAZ MEDIA GROUP ENTERS ALBANIAN MARKET

WAZ Media Group informed that it has entered Albanian media market by acquiring a holding in the TV station Vizion +. This station has a national satellite broadcasting license and is one of the main TV stations in the country. The acquisition took place after WAZ Media Group surveyed the market for a year. Although there is some limited foreign ownership of the media in the country, this marks the first case where a large media group buys shares in Albanian media outlets. WAZ Media Group notified that it bought a minority stake in TV Vizion+ and that it does not rule out other acquisitions in the market.

COMMUNICATION DAY ORGANIZED BY JOURNALISM FACULTY

Journalism students at the University of Tirana presented their works in an event organized for Communication day on July 1. The students presented their TV, radio, print, and online reports prepared during their practice, while the best were awarded in a ceremony. Prime Minister Sali Berisha also participated in this ceremony. In his speech, he stated that after the Government’s decision not to sue any journalists on defamation charges, the number of these cases has dropped significantly. Furthermore, he condemned what he called “the financial pressure exerted by owners to turn journalists into mercenaries,” claiming that this threatened editorial independence and that further legal amendments were needed to guarantee independent content. This activity was organized by Department of Journalism at University of Tirana, with the support of the Albanian Media Institute.

HEALTH REPORTING FOR THE YOUTH

A training course on reporting health issues for the youth was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 7-9, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the training was to improve health reporting in the media and foster healthy lifestyle among the youth. For this purpose, the reporters were introduced to the main legal framework on health issues in the country as well as the most delicate health problems affecting the youth. Some of the topics addressed by the lecturers included the legal framework of the war against alcohol and smoking, the awareness programs for the youth and media role in this aspect, situation of sexually transmitted diseases among the youth and campaigns to prevent them, statistics in the country, etc. Other major topics affecting the youth and addressed during the training were reporting on HIV/AIDS and drugs, focusing on the educational and informative role of the media, as well as on its role in dissipating discrimination of people affected by this problem. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

MEDIA TRAINING IN CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

A one-day seminar on media training in corporate social responsibility took place in Tirana on July 29, with the participation of economy reporters. The training focused on Corporate Social Responsibility, definitions, influence areas and case studies. The main aim was to introduce some basic concepts of what corporate social responsibility is to the journalists and to show case how these principles are implemented in practice by the companies. Lecturers discussed with journalists the role of media as socially responsible business and as a promoter of social responsibility, identifying main problems and challenges in this regard. The seminar was organized by UNDP Albania.

EUROPEAN YOUNG JOURNALIST AWARD

A group of 32 winners of the European Young Journalism Award competition travelled from June 29 to July 3 in several European countries in the concluding phase of this competition. In the last stage they participated in debates with media and politics’ representatives and with members of the juries in the conference that was organized in Ljubljana. They focused mainly on topics such as free movement, cultural interaction, European and national identities, etc. The call for competition resulted in about 400 applications from young reporters in 35 countries, who expressed in their articles their views on EU enlargement, European values and integration.


AMI NEWSLETTER – August-September 2008


NCRT FINES TV STATION FOR AN ADVERTISEMENT

The National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) fined local news station TV News24 for broadcasting an advertisement by political movement G99, which was an ironic spot that referred to a previous spot by the Prime Minister for his government’s achievements. The NCRT claimed in its decision that it is against the law to broadcast political parties’ spots in periods when there are no election campaigns and imposed a fine of ALL 800,000 (approximately EUR 6,500). The TV station and G99 protested against decision, claiming it is a political one. In their defence, they stated that G99 is not a political party, but an association, and as such, the article does not apply. The People’s Advocate also supported the claim of the TV station, stating that the NCRT had not followed the proper administrative procedure and suggested a change in the law, in order to allow for greater freedom of expression. However, NCRT did not change its decision after complaints by NCRT and voted in favour of payment of the fine by this television.

TRAINING TO IMPROVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHILDREN

A training course on media coverage of children was organized on September 3-5, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce participants to the main legal aspects of covering children and the main mistakes media does in these cases, in addition to the frequent ethical dilemmas. The participants were introduced to the main provisions of CRC as the main document seeking to guarantee the rights of the child and with Albanian legislation on media in this regard and the existing gaps in this area. Albanian legislation in the aspects of child discrimination, child labour, right of education, juvenile justice, and the way these work and are reported in practice constituted a major source of discussion.

Another topic addressed during the course was the experience of civil society representatives in working with minors, providing specific cases addressed in the media and focusing on the way these children are affected psychologically by media coverage. Attention was also paid to the role of People’s Advocate Section on Children in improving their situation. Finally, the training focused on further elaboration of the Rules of Professional Practice in covering children in the media, focusing on previous monitoring of these issues. This discussion addressed 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, the main genres of reporting on children, along with 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. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

DEBATES ON REVISION OF BROADCASTING LAW EMERGE

The revision of the law on public and private radio and television has become again an issue of debate in the Parliamentary Media Commission and in the media. While this Commission, chaired by the opposition, had to revise among others the broadcasting law, according to an action plan agreed upon with the EU and CoE, another revised draft of this law had been sent to the EU, seeking opinion. According to the chairwoman of the Parliamentary Media Commission, they were notified on this parallel draft by a letter of the EU Delegation in Tirana, and not by the Speaker of the Parliament, who had supported this parallel effort. According to the opposition speaker, the new draft was a product of a group of experts, in view of the delays in revising the law in the Commission, but nobody had informed the Commission on this development and the members of the Commission were not familiar with the new draft. While the members of the majority in the Commission claimed that the law was revised by a group of experts, the opposition members protested against the failure to inform on this draft and to consult the Commission on this issue.

TRAINING COURSE ON POVERTY REPORTING

A training course on poverty reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on September 9-12, with the participation of 12 reporters from Tirana-based print and electronic media. The aim of this course was to introduce participants to the main issues, problems, and challenges when reporting on the topic of poverty, including both statistics and the human angle. On the first day, participants became familiar with the general range and overview of poverty nowadays in the country, as well as with the main challenges to poverty reduction. In addition, participants became familiar with the active policies for poverty reduction, both from the government and from the international actors.

Another topic discussed during the course was the economic growth during transition years, including the changes in the inflation rate and GDP, discussing ways how journalists should interpret these data when reporting on these topics for the general public. Finally, journalists discussed with the lecturers the main challenge they encounter when reporting on such topic, both in receiving data, and in conveying the data for the public that is not familiar with this area. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Democracy Commission Program of the US Embassy in Tirana.

HEALTH REPORTING FOR THE YOUTH

A training course on reporting health issues for the youth was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 17-19, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the training was to improve health reporting in the media and raise awareness on public health issues among the youth. For this purpose, the reporters were introduced to the main legal framework on public health, along with the legislation for protection of environment, food safety, consumer protection, etc, focusing on the role of the media in raising awareness in this area. Other topics addressed by the lecturers included specifically addictions that affect the youth, but not only, such as smoking, alcohol, and drugs, including the strategies for their prevention. In addition, the lecturers informed the journalists on epidemics and management practices in these cases, placing particular emphasis on avian flu, focusing on the educational and informative role of the media in this regard. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

PARLIAMENT DISMISSES A MEMBER OF THE REGULATOR

The Parliament voted for the dismissal of one of the seven members of the regulatory body for electronic media, National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT). On September 15, the Parliament voted 54 votes in favour and 48 against the dismissal of Frano Kulli, who was also deputy chairman of the NCRT. While the Demo-Christian party’s chairman claimed that Kulli was dismissed because he represented his party, who currently was in conflict with the government, the Speaker of the Parliament claimed that Kulli himself had stated that he was not affiliated with this party. The claim was also supported by the leader of the parliamentary opposition group, as well as the chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Media. At the moment no new member has yet been elected in NCRT.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON ETHICS IN VIZION+ TV

An in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of Vizion+ TV, one of the main television stations in the country. The training session took place on September 15-17, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom. The trainer addressed the main ethical issues in the profession of journalism, such as accuracy, fairness, truthfulness, language used, etc. Specific attention was paid to coverage of politics as one of the most salient issues, addressing different actors, such as Government, political parties, Parliament, elections’ campaigns, etc. Coverage of specific delicate topics and groups, such as those of reporting on minors, on violence, sex, mourning, minorities, religions, gender, physically disabled persons, etc, was a particularly sensitive topic addressed during the in-house trainings. Conflicts of interests and editorial independence of Albanian media were also widely discussed by the trainer and participants, illustrating the problems with specific examples brought from the participants. The newsroom focused on a specific analysis of the most recent ethical dilemmas in the news editions, discussing the difficulties that the competition with other media poses in this regard. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of SHC.

TRAINING COURSE ON COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING

A computer assisted reporting training course was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 22-27, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to assist Albanian investigative journalists with ways of finding information from Internet, using databases, resource centres, etc. In this context, the main topics addressed during the course included advanced use of Windows, Internet Explorer, and other programs. Participants were introduced to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. The lecturers focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. The course is part of an extensive project focused on journalism training, implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the European Union.

SEMINAR ON DEMOCRACY AND PUBLIC OPINION

A seminar on democracy and public opinion was organized at the European University of Tirana on September 25th, with the participation of students, academic staff, other public figures, and journalists. Lecturer was Fernando Vallespin, Political Science Professor at Universidad Autonoma Madrid and Former President of Center of Sociological Research. The key role of the media in contemporary politics has brought some scholars to talk of a “media democracy.” The seminar tried to focus on this role of the media in this context, as well as on the importance of being capable to measure public opinion through opinion polls, maintaining that these are among the best instruments to know the shifts and evolution of public opinion. The seminar also analyzed how these tools are used by politicians and their contribution to public interest. The seminar was organized by the Embassy of Spain in Tirana, in cooperation with the Albanian Media Institute, the Institute of Dialogue and Communication, and the European University of Tirana.

MEDIA REPORT ON 2007 IS PUBLISHED

Albanian Center for Media Monitoring published its 2007 report “Albanian Media Monitor.” The publication included an overview of the media landscape, an overview of the minority media and of the media role in local developments, as well as other media surveys. The publication also included the annual reports to the Parliament of public institutions such as the regulatory authority of electronic media, the Steering Council of the public broadcaster, etc. Specific attention was paid to the public debate on copyright, on the legislation, difficulties in implementing, and on the relevant actors involved. Finally, the publication also contained reports on media development and monitoring, as well as the new laws on media that appeared in 2007.


AMI NEWSLETTER - October 2008


PRESS FREEDOM IN ALBANIA IMPROVES SLIGHTLY ACCORDING TO REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

Reporters Without Borders has recently published the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2008 for the seventh year running. This report shows a slight improvement compared to the notable decline of the press freedom in Albania last year. However, the country is still positioned in the last position in the region. 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 moved down to the 87th position in 2007, and this year marked an improvement of eight positions, as well as an improvement in the score of the press freedom index.

OSCE MEDIA FREEDOM REPRESENTATIVE CALLS FOR BROAD PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS ON ALBANIA'S DRAFT MEDIA LAW

Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, welcomed the decision of the Albanian authorities to postpone the adoption of a new Law on Radio and Television. In an October 8th letter to the Albanian decision-making authorities he asked the Government to ensure broad and transparent consultations with all key stakeholders. The new draft law was produced by the Parliamentary Committee on Media and Education in July. It aims to merge the existing Laws on Public and Private Radio and Television and on Digital Broadcasting.

According to Haraszti, "the draft fails to guarantee the independence of the National Council on Radio and Television and the Albanian Radio and Television. It also does not solve the problems with the current law, which have been identified in previous recommendations from my Office as well as by other international organizations, and which remain unchanged in the new draft. " Haraszti also asked the responsible stakeholders to resume drafting a comprehensive strategy for digital television in a consultative and co-operative manner, involving the media as well as media NGOs in the entire process.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON FINANCIAL CRISIS

A media briefing session on the current global financial crisis was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 14, with the participation of 20 economic reporters and editors. The main aim of the briefing was to discuss the way that the global crisis affects the Balkans region and Albania in particular. Lecturer  Shkelqim Cani, ex-Governor of Central Bank of Albania, explained to the participants the main causes, effects, and prospect of the financial crisis. After analyzing the global economic indicators in the recent years, the lecturer proceeded with these indicators in Albania, analyzing the situation of the market in the country. Another topic of discussion among participants was the financial plan of the US government to assist the economy and the financial interventions of other states in the EU in this regard. Finally, the impending problems and potential solutions for Albania were also part of the media briefing series, which will continue with other relevant topics. This series of media briefings is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Media Program, of Open Society Institute.

FOLLOW-UP REPORT ON TELEVISION IN ALBANIA PUBLISHED

The Open Society Institute's recent report on Albania was launched on 2 October 2008 in Tirana. The report warns that the disorder in Albania's broadcast sector is driving down the quality of information that is available to most citizens. The public service broadcaster is chronically under-funded and unable to arrest a long slide in programme standards. The commercial sector is lively and chaotic. The lack of audience research discourages foreign investment, while poor employment conditions make journalists more vulnerable to political pressure. Around 40 media professionals, members of Parliament, regulators, international officials and others attended the launch of the report. Mark Thompson of the Open Society Foundation Media Program started by describing the TV Across Europe: Follow-up Reports 2008 project as a whole. He summarised the findings of the nine country reports, indicating pan-European trends in audience fragmentation, ownership consolidation and technical convergence. Two sub-trends across much of central and eastern Europe were also noted: first, regulatory passivity, and second, a worrying process of re-politicisation of broadcast media. Summarising her report, author Ilda Londo from the AMI emphasised the funding difficulties facing the public service broadcaster, the difficulty of defining the public service mission in Albania, the challenges facing the broadcast regulator, the economic influence on commercial media content, and the need for wider public debate on media issues. The participants discussed some of the main issues raised in the report. The event was organised by the Albanian Media Institute, as part of a project of the Media Program of Open Society Institute.

OPEN FORUM ON RUSSIA AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

An open forum on current affairs was organized on October 28 on the role of Russia in current international affairs. Distinguished lecturer was Janusz Bugajski, Director of New European Democracies  Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C. Participants included reporters, editors, analysts and political scientists. The main aim of the open forum was to analyze the recent developments in the global affairs with regard to Russia’s position and its relations with the main actors in the global arena. A major topic discussed was Russia-US relations and the expected changes after USA elections. In addition, the lecturer introduced the main problems and controversies of Russia-EU relations, stressing the need for a common EU policy vis-a-vis Russia. Finally, the participants discussed the role and influence of Russia’s foreign policy in the area of Balkans and its prospects for the future. This series of open forums is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Media Program of Open Society Institute.

ROUNDTABLE ON HARMONIZATION OF ALBANIAN BROADCASTING LEGISLATION WITH EU STANDARDS

A consulting roundtable with shareholders on the harmonization of Albanian legal framework on broadcasting with EU and Council of Europe requirements in this area was organized in Tirana on October 9-10. Participants included representatives of the regulatory authority, of the Parliamentary Media Commission, of the public broadcaster, the main commercial stations, journalism associations, media consumer organizations, and media activist organizations. The main aim was to discuss with shareholders the expected changes that will take place in the framework of the overall revision of the Albanian broadcasting law, as well as the adaptation of the digital switchover national strategy and the implementation of the law in this area. The main areas discussed by participants included the introduction of EU standards in this area, the different kinds of available licenses, regulation on network access and program operator, the role of the regulatory authority in view of the changes in legislation, and the role of the public broadcaster in the process of digital switchover. This roundtable was organized by the Council of Europe, the EU Commission Delegation, and the Albanian Parliament.

PROTEST OF TRADE UNION OF ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS

“Union of Albanian Journalists,” the Albanian journalists’ trade union, issued a statement on October 26th, condemning the pressure exerted by different politicians or parties on media. The union stated that this tendency leads to political positioning of media editors and analysts and hence poses a serious threat to media, their objectivity and credibility. In addition, the trade union protests against the tendency of politicians to approach media owners at the expense of media independence and credibility and professionalism of journalists. Finally, the union proposed to the Parliamentary Commission on Electoral Reform and the Parliamentary Media Commission that the new law on electoral reform include special articles that guarantee protection of journalists when carrying out the mission of informing the public during the electoral process.

In-house training on self-regulation at ALSAT TV newsroom

An in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of ALSAT TV. The training session took place on October 7-9, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom. The trainer introduced the main criteria established in the Code of Ethics for a correct and fair coverage of events and persons. The training was in the form of discussion between the trainer and the newsroom on several problems and criteria of ethical coverage, such as fairness, accuracy, language used, intrusion into privacy, coverage of sensitive events, etc.

The training coincided with a heavy period in terms of tragedies (a boat with 17 persons sank in a lake near Tirana, resulting in the death of most of the persons) and sudden and controversial deaths (a witness of an important corruptive affair was found dead). These events constituted the core of significant part of discussions. The participants addressed at length the problems they had in cases of intrusion into the grief of relatives of the dead persons, stressing that they were forced into this situation by competition with other media. The journalists discussed the problems they had had in these events in approaching the relatives, especially since great part of the coverage was “live” from some of the houses that were mourning. Specific importance was also paid to the coverage of suicides as extreme cases, when media role can be both very useful in raising awareness on the phenomena and hurtful, if done in an unethical manner. In addition, the disseminating role of media in these cases was also controversial and sparked debates in the newsroom, especially in cases when coverage of suicides might be linked to propagation of the model. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

NEW NCRT MEMBER ELECTED

The Parliament voted on the new member of National Council of Radio and Television on October 27. The seventh member of NCRT will be Altin Ndroqi, who passed with 74 votes in favor of his application. Coming from the Directorate of International Relations and Public communication, he has held several positions as spokesperson of ministries and has also worked as a journalist in the daily newspaper of the opposition party. The opposition members at the Parliamentary Media Commission opposed the candidates proposed by the ruling majority representative, claiming that both candidates had previous experience in party newspaper,which goes against the criteria set by law on the members of the NCRT.

TRAINING TO IMPROVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHILDREN

A training course on media coverage of children was organized on October 1-3, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The course aimed to introduce participants to the main legal aspects of covering children and the main mistakes media does in these cases, in addition to the frequent ethical dilemmas. The participants were introduced to the main provisions of CRC as the main document seeking to guarantee the rights of the child and with Albanian legislation on media in this regard and the existing gaps in this area. Albanian legislation in the aspects of child discrimination, child labour, right of education, juvenile justice, and the way these work and are reported in practice constituted a major source of discussion.

Another topic addressed during the course was the experience of civil society representatives in working with minors, providing specific cases addressed in the media and focusing on the way these children are affected psychologically by media coverage. Attention was also paid to the role of People’s Advocate Section on Children in improving their situation. Finally, the training focused on further elaboration of the Rules of Professional Practice in covering children in the media, focusing on previous monitoring of these issues. This discussion addressed 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, the main genres of reporting on children, along with 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. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

TRAINING COURSE ON IMPROVING HEALTH REPORTING FOR THE YOUTH

A training course aimed to improve reporting on health issues for the youth was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 8-10, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the training was to raise awareness on public health issues among the youth. In this context, the participants became familiar with several important issues. One of these topics was related to introducing participants to the basic problems of mental health, to drug and alcohol addiction, as well as to smoking as an addiction. Lecturers in this regard explained and emphasized the prevention of these addictions and the existing strategies in this area. A specific topic this course addressed was also the reporting of suicides in the press in a responsible and knowledgeable manner, given the problem that this poses for the Albanian society at the moment. Finally, participants discussed the main problems of health education in Albania and the efforts made for promoting and raising awareness on improving education in this area. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

COUNCIL OF ETHICS ISSUES STATEMENT ON CONTROVERSIAL MEDIA COVERAGE

Council of Ethics, an advisory body at the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT,) issues a statement on October 1 in relation to the media coverage of events and persons related to the Communist regime. The Council stated it was following carefully the recurring interviews and reports related to the relatives of ex-dictator and the broadcasting of materials realized during the dictatorship. In its statement the Council advised caution in broadcasting such materials in view of the propaganda materials some of them carry and in consideration of the way these materials affect persons persecuted during the Communist regime. This theme has become more frequent in view of the 100th anniversary of the ex-dictator’s birthday and the Council called on all broadcasters to refer to ethical norms and influence on public opinion when making decisions on broadcasting this kind of materials.

TRAINING COURSE ON NEWS AGENCY WRITING

A training course on news writing for news agency was organized at the Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA) on October 27-31, with the participation of reporters and editors at ATA, which is the only national news agency in Albania. The main aim of the course was to train journalists to adapt their writing style to news agency writing. Lecturers were correspondents of international news agencies and journalism professors. The main topics addressed during the course included the style and techniques of writing for news agencies, starting with theoretical background and proceeding to hands-on practice by the journalists. Concise, accurate, and clear techniques of news writing, a ”must” for news agencies, were another topic extensively addressed and practiced during the course. A full analysis of the last week’s news of ATA enabled journalists to identify the mistakes and suggest solutions for improved reporting in the future. Finally, the lecturers also addressed the importance of using multi-media tools when reporting for news agencies, especially in view of the technological adaptations that ATA has to make. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.

TRAINING COURSE ON HEALTH REPORTING WITH LOCAL MEDIA

A training course with local journalists was organized on October 15-17 in Shkodra. The main objective of the course was to raise awareness among local journalists on the importance of ethical and informed reporting on health issues. For this purpose, the participants were introduced to the main problems of health education in Albania and the efforts made for promoting and raising awareness on improving education of the public in this regard. In addition, the participants became familiar with the legislation in force regarding public health, with the legislation for protection of environment and the one against air pollution, the food safety legislation and measures, etc. Consumer protection legislation and implementation was also another topic addressed during the course, against the background of the media role in raising awareness among the public on this legislation. Finally, the course focused on epidemics and management practices in these cases, placing particular emphasis on avian flu, focusing on the educational and informative role of the media in this regard. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

TRAINING COURSE ON CORRUPTION REPORTING

A training course on corruption reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on October 28-31, with the participation of 12 reporters from Tirana-based print and electronic media. The aim of this course was to introduce participants to the main issues, problems, and challenges when reporting on the topic of corruption, including statistics, the phenomenon, and the human angle. On the first day, participants became familiar with the main surveys, polls, and research on corruption, introducing the main research methods and interpretations in this area. Given the importance of reporting on surveys measuring corruption, particular attention was paid to this topic and frequent mistakes or misinterpretations made in reporting.

Another topic discussed during the course was the effect of corruption in a democratic society and development of democracy, focusing especially on the effect this has on the growth of institutions. The participants were also introduced to the notion of the conflict of interest, the legal measures existing in the country, the sanctions that can be used, and their implementation in practice. Finally, journalists discussed with the lecturers the main challenge they encounter when reporting on such topic, especially in cases of investigative journalism. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Democracy Commission Program of the US Embassy in Tirana.

In-house training at MAT TV

Another in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of MAT TV, in Burrel. The training session took place on October 27-29, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom. The trainer introduced the Code of Ethics as a self-regulation tool and attempt, followed by a brief history of self-regulation mechanisms and examples in the world. Afterwards, he introduced the main chapter of the Code of Ethics, introducing the main professional standards in maintaining ethical levels, such as accuracy, objectivity, fairness, responsibility, balance, etc.

Given the small community where the media outlet is established and operates, a particular trait that was discussed at length by the participants was editorial independence. The reporters pointed out that the dilemmas they often faced in reporting were related to their greater vulnerability vis-à-vis the local government compared to the national capital-based media. Another problem they mentioned regarding the ethical choices they had to make was the frequency of conflicts of interest. Being in a small and narrow circle, it was easy for reporters to have conflicts of interest regarding local government, local businesses, etc. Participants brought cases of their own practice in this regard, discussing potential solutions to these frequent dilemmas. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

TRAINING COURSE ON ONLINE JOURNALISM

A training course on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 22-24, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to assist Albanian investigative journalists with ways of finding information from Internet, using databases, resource centres, etc. In this context, the main topics addressed during the course included advanced use of Windows, Internet Explorer, and other programs. Participants were introduced to online journalism, current stage of its development, the main characteristics of this form of journalism, etc. The lecturers focused on specific ways that the participants could practice online journalism, including 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 writing for online media, blogs, forums, and adapting style for online writing. Introducing journalists to the main websites of interest to journalist, the trainers provided practical examples for the participants. The course is part of a project implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the U.S. Embassy.

CONFERENCE ON NEW COMMUNICATION PLATFORM

The Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA,) the only national news agency in Albania, organized a conference on WEB-DEP project on October 23. This project aims to establish an information network of the news agencies of Western Balkans and improve infrastructure of information exchange, with the objective of strengthening principles of e-democracy in the region. The aim of this project is to serve as a forum that can be accessed by government and non-government organizations, journalists, citizens, etc, and can serve as a discussion and information platform on all relevant topics. Key speakers and participants in the conference stressed the importance of developing e-communication and e-participation for the future democratic development of the country.  The conference also introduced the practice of other media forums and online forums of similar nature in the country, as well as the practical introduction of the future functioning of this platform, supported by EU.
 
CONFERENCE ON “ITALIANNESS” AND MEDIA IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

A conference titled “Italianness and the media in Southeast European countries” was organized in Tirana on October 16-18, with the participation of several branches of Italian public broadcaster RAI, San Marino RTV, Zagreb University, Skopje University, Albanian journalists, representatives of Albanian public broadcaster, etc. The conference aimed to introduce a series of discussions and studies on the influence of the Italian language and media in the media of Southeast Europe. Some of the topics discussed in this regard included the influence of Italian language on the area of the Balkans, the ways Italian has affected literature in the Balkans, the experience of Italian language radios and TVs outside Italian territory, the exchange of information according to different media means, the prospect of new media and Italianness, etc. The conference was hosted by Albanian public broadcaster RTSH and organized by Communita Radiotelevisiva Italofona. This conference marked the start of the Italian language week in Tirana.


AMI NEWSLETTER - November 2008


EU REPORT DISCUSSES THE MEDIA SECTOR PROGRESS

The EU Commission made public on November 5th the annual Progress Report for Albania. The report indicated that overall, Albania has continued to make progress on freedom of expression, but the country now needs to improve implementation of the existing legislation and to advance on key issues regarding decriminalization of defamation, adoption of legislation on access to public information and transparency of media ownership. The report stated that the intermingling of business, political and media interests continues to affect the development of independent media. According to the report, the lack of transparency about ownership and funding leaves the media open to accusations of criminal influence. The report stated that The National Council on Radio and Television (NCRT) continued to face accusations of political bias in favor of media linked to the government.

In addition, the report assesses that there has been progress as regards audiovisual policy, especially in terms of drafting the strategy for the transition to digital broadcasting. The report acknowledged the enhancement of its administrative capacity and in the establishment of the Ethics Council, which has played a positive role in self-regulation. However, the report states that the NCRT's monitoring capacity is limited by its insufficient technical resources. The report stressed the need to speed up the work on the Action Plan on media reform agreed with the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE PUBLISHED IN ALBANIAN

Starting from October 2008, Foreign Policy magazine will also be published in Albanian. This is an initiative of the Albanian Media Institute, Foreign Policy Club, and Forum 2015. The representatives of these organizations made this initiative public on November 12 at the European University of Tirana. Present were representatives of the diplomatic corpus in Tirana, politicians, media editors, academia representatives, members of civil society, and students. The keynote speakers at the event were Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute, Ylli Hoxha, director of the Albanian version of the publication, Veton Surroi of Foreign Policy Club, and Henri Cili of European University of Tirana. They emphasized the contribution the publication of this prestigious magazine will give to foreign policy issues and debate not only in Albania, but in all Albanian-speaking areas.

TRAINING COURSE ON HEALTH REPORTING WITH LOCAL MEDIA

A training course with local journalists was organized on November 5-7 in Berat. The main objective of the course was to raise awareness among local journalists on the importance of ethical and informed reporting on health issues. For this purpose, the participants were introduced to the main problems of health education in Albania and the efforts made for promoting and raising awareness on improving education of the public in this regard. In addition, the participants became familiar with the legislation in force regarding public health, with the legislation for protection of environment and the one against air pollution, the food safety legislation and measures, etc. Consumer protection legislation and implementation was also another topic addressed during the course, against the background of the media role in raising awareness among the public on this legislation. Finally, the course focused on mental health, drug, alcohol and smoking addictions and the strategies in place aiming at their prevention. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON SELF-REGULATION AT DAILY SHEKULLI NEWSROOM

An in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of daily Shekulli newspaper. The training session took place on November 17-19, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom. The trainer introduced the main criteria established in the Code of Ethics for a correct and fair coverage of events and persons. The training was in the form of discussion between the trainer and the newsroom on several problems and criteria of ethical coverage, such as fairness, accuracy, language used, intrusion into privacy, coverage of sensitive events, etc.

In view of the hunger strike of several opposition members, which took place for a week before the adoption of the new Electoral Code, and the coming elections, a significant part of the discussion focused on the controversial coverage of the media of this strike, and the ramifications for media independence and their influence on media ethics. The participants addressed in this case the influence that media ownership and media hierarchy have in these cases in terms of making decisions on media coverage of specific events. The participants also addressed at length problems related to privacy, intrusion into grief, crime reporting etc. Analyzing the recent articles on these topics, they brought up different ethical dilemmas in cases of intrusion into the grief of relatives of the dead persons, stressing that they were forced into this situation by competition with other media. Other discussed topics included coverage of suicide cases, which also posed significant ethical dilemmas for the reporters. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

CONFERENCE ON MEDIA CHALLENGES

The OSCE Presence in Albania marked World Television Day with a conference on media challenges on November 21, which brought together the Albanian media community from the capital and other regions to discuss matters such as freedom of expression, editorial independence, communication between media stakeholders, self-regulation, digitalization and media labour relations. Representatives of state institutions in charge of media development, such as the National Council of Radio and Television and the Assembly Media and Education Committee, the OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media, and representatives of public television, media NGOs and trade union, were among the speakers at the event.

The main topics discussed included freedom of expression, independence of journalists, and communication among stakeholders. A special section was devoted to digital switchover, planned for 2012, focusing on key challenges and policy solutions. Finally, another major topic discussed was related to government regulation versus media self-regulation, focusing on the status of journalists, ethical reporting, media market regulation, defamation regulation, etc. The conference is part of a project to support the creation of a media self-regulatory body which is being implemented by the OSCE Presence in Albania and the office of the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Tirana, and financed by the European Commission Delegation in Albania.

TRAINING COURSE ON BLOGGING

A training course on blogging as a new form of journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on November 25-27, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to introduce Albanian journalists to blogging as a new form of reporting and debate. The training started with a history of blogging and their current influence on media community, focusing on kinds of blogs, their structure, Internet sites enabling blogginh, and the different journalism communities making use of blogging. The training focused on specific blogs in Internet, analyzing their content, techniques, and topics they address. Furthermore, the participants were introduced to the technical aspects of creating and maintaining a blog, experiencing in practice the knowledge gained in this area. In addition, the participants were introduced to the manners of writing for blogs, targeting the audience, use of links in blogging, and ethical aspects in this form of communication. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the U.S. Embassy.

HEALTH REPORTING FOR THE YOUTH

A training course on reporting health issues for the youth was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on November 12-14, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the training was to improve health reporting in the media and raise awareness on public health issues among the youth. For this purpose, the participants were introduced to the main problems of health education in Albania and the efforts made for promoting and raising awareness on improving education of the public in this regard. Another sensitive topic addressed by the lecturers included specifically the problem of increasing suicides and the manner of reporting on this phenomenon by the media, including both ethical and informational aspects. In addition, the lecturers informed the journalists on epidemics and management practices in these cases, placing particular emphasis on avian flu, focusing on the educational and informative role of the media in this regard. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of UNICEF and concluded a series of training aimed at more educated reporting on health issues for the youth.

ROUNDTABLE ON DIGITAL SWITCHOVER AND PUBLIC BROADCASTER

A roundtable discussion on the role of the public broadcaster in the digital era was organized in Tirana on November 25th, with the participation of public broadcaster management and employees, media NGOs, representatives of the regulatory authority, etc. The main aim of the roundtable was to bring together the main decisionmakers in the area of audiovisual media in order to discuss the challenges that the public broadcaster faces in the process of digital switchover and in asserting its independence and improving efficiency. Main presentations included the democratic role of the public broadcaster and the key challenges in this area, the current situation of RTSH, the public broadcaster, and main projects in this area. Special attention was paid to the introduction of the strategy of RTSH for digital switchover, including financing, programming, etc, and the main difficulties in implementing this strategy. This conference was organized by OSCE and RTSH.

MEDIA EVENT AGAINST VIOLENCE ON WOMEN

In the framework of November 25th-December 10th international days against violence on women, the association “Useful to Albanian Woman”,  the Albanian Media Institute, and the Marubi Multimedia and Film Academy organized a media event on November 25th. The event aimed to raise awareness on violence against women and the need to soothe this dramatic phenomenon for Albanian society. In this context, two movies were screened. The first was a documentary co-produced by the association “Useful to Albanian Woman” and Vizion Plus TV, while the second was a Chilean documentary called “Sex Slaves.” A special edition of “Diella” newspaper on violence against women, along with a manual on raising awareness on violence against women were also distributed to participants at the event.

PUBLIC RADIO CELEBRATES 70TH ANNIVERSARY

Radio Tirana, the public radio and oldest radio station in Albania, marked its 70th anniversary on November 27, 2008. In an event organized for this occasion many current and ex-reporters and employees brought their impressions and experience with this station. Radio Tirana had been the only electronic media until the emergence of public television station. As such, it has had a historical role in informing the citizens and in starting such events as the annual song contest, a tradition carried on to this day.


AMI NEWSLETTER - December 2008


PUBLIC COUNSELLING IN MAIN CITIES ON DIGITAL SWITCHOVER

The National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) organized three public counselling sessions on the impact of digital switchover on Albanian media in December in Korca, Vlora, and Durres. The main aim of these sessions was to inform the local media owners and directors on the draft strategy on digital broadcasting and the switchover process, and gather their feedback on the issue, in order to reflect it on the finished strategy. The regulatory authority’s representatives explained the EU and international requirements in terms of frequencies and digital switchover and the plans that NCRT envisages in this process for the national and local media outlets. The participants became familiar both with the technical aspect of digital switchover (available frequencies, transition scenario, criteria), but also with the legal requirements in terms of programming (plurality of content, bouquet planning, respective criteria, etc.). The representatives of local media presented their own concerns and suggestions in relation to this strategy and the steps for its implementation. NCRT has started this informative and consultation campaign in cooperation with OSCE presence in Albania.

SERIES OF TRAINING COURSE ON ELECTIONS REPORTING STARTS

In view of the coming general elections the Albanian Media Institute started a series of training courses aimed at introducing the journalists to the changes in the electoral system and at improving media reporting on future elections. The first course was organized on November 19-21, with the participation of 16 reporters from both Tirana-based and local print and electronic media.The second training course took place on December 10-12, with the participation of another 16 reporters from both Tirana-based and local print and electronic media. Lecturers discussed with the participants the media coverage of previous elections, focusing on the ethical aspects and dilemmas that special coverage cases brought about. In addition, the participants were acquainted with the ethical rules of covering elections on the Code of Ethics and on the Code of Conduct drafted in association with Council of Europe.

Reporters also became familiar with the new electoral system in the country and its main advantages and disadvantages compared to the previous and other systems used in different countries. Particular attention was paid to the recently approved Electoral Code and the debates that took place on this issue. Finally, journalists became familiar with those parts of the Electoral Code related to media, and the role of the Monitoring Board of the media during election process. More specifically, they were introduced to the composition of the Board, its functioning, its role during campaign and elections, and the main problems observed during the media coverage of elections. These courses were organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

NEWSPAPER DEPUTY EDITOR ASSAULTED

Luan Kondi, deputy editor-in-chief of daily Albania newspaper was assaulted by unknown persons on December 19 in front of the newspaper’s premises. Apparently, these persons attacked him because of duty, since Kondi said that they assaulted him after asking if he worked at Albania newspaper. Even though Kondi asked what were the reasons for this assault, he got no answer. As a result of the assault, Kondi sustained a black eye and several bruises. This assault was condemned by other media and journalists’ associations.

OPEN FORUM ON US ELECTIONS

An open forum on current affairs was organized on December 5 on the outcome of the US elections and their expected impact on the Balkans. Distinguished lecturer was Shaban Murati, ex-ambassador and political analyst. Participants included reporters, editors, analysts and political scientists. The main aim of the open forum was to analyze the outcome of the US elections and their expected influence on the developments in the Balkan region. The main topics discussed during the open forum included the introduction of the platform of the elect president, the methods followed by US foreign policy and its expected trends.

The key concept tackled in this forum regarding foreign policy of the US was multilateralism and the degree to which this stance interests the Balkan countries. Several facets of US diplomacy were analyzed, such as its international rather than isolationist outlook, and the reasons why Balkans is a strategic area for the US. Security issues related to the Balkans, along with NATO enlargement were other topics related to US foreign policy discussed in the forum, against the background of US-Russia relations. This series of open forums is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Network Media Program.

DAILY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER’S CAR BURNT DOWN

The car of Mero Baze, publisher of daily newspaper “Tema” exploded in early morning on December 31st as a result of fire. The publisher claims that the fire was started on purpose. He said that the explosion happened after an evident friction of the publisher with the Prime Minister after the rebroadcasting in earlier days of several TV programs that tackled issues the publisher considered problematic for Prime Minister and his family. The journalists’ associations and trade union issued a joint statement, expressing their concern and support for the publisher.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON LABOUR RELATIONS

The media dialogue on labour relations marked the start of a series of media dialogue on different issues that aims to encourage and facilitate professional debates among media professionals. The first media dialogue was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 19 and focused on labour relations, their implementation in the media outlets, and their impact on media freedom and independence. 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. He dwelled on the current 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. This media dialogue was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Network Media Program.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON SELF-REGULATION AT DAILY SHQIP NEWSROOM

An in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of daily Shqip newspaper. The training session took place on December 17-19, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were reporters and editors of the newsroom. The trainer introduced the main criteria established in the Code of Ethics for a correct and fair coverage of events and persons. The training was in the form of discussion between the trainer and the newsroom on several problems and criteria of ethical coverage, such as fairness, accuracy, language used, intrusion into privacy, coverage of sensitive events, etc.

Special emphasis during the training was placed on a correct reporting on children, grave cases, and suicides, given the abundance of reports on these events in the press. The debate in the newsroom focused on specific examples brought by the reporters themselves during their job. A topic debated at length regarded the correct manner to report on suicides, given the potential for imitation if the reporting is done in a careless manner. In this context, the participants also addressed at length problems related to privacy, intrusion into grief, crime reporting etc. The participants stressed the need to tackle the phenomena, rather than separated sensational events, especially in the case of suicides. However, the reporters stressed that the lack of a tradition of an ethical code and self-regulation, does not assist in ethical coverage by journalists of these cases. The editor proposed for the newsroom to have its own code of ethics to adhere to. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON CHILDREN’S COVERAGE IN MEDIA

A roundtable discussion on the way children are covered and portrayed in print media was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 22, with the participation of journalists and editors covering social, health, and crime reporting. The discussion was based on the findings of a six-month monitoring of daily newspapers’ coverage of children issues, which were presented by representatives of the Albanian Media Institute. Some of the main findings of the monitoring were related to the space devoted to children in Albanian media, ethical aspects of their coverage, diversity of topics, plurality of sources, civic journalism vis-à-vis children’s privacy, role and portrayal of minors in reports on juvenile justice, etc. Special emphasis was put on efforts made by the newspapers to lend more space to minors, such as weekly supplements on high school students, supplements and practical advice on health problems, adolescence conduct, etc. 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 UNICEF.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON VISA LIBERALIZATION PROCESS

A media briefing session on the process of visa facilitation and liberalization for Albanian citizens was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 15, with the participation of 20 political reporters and editors. The main aim of the briefing was to discuss the achievements in the process of visa liberalization and its future steps and results. Lecturer  was Ferit Hoxha, General Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The  main issues he discussed with the participants concerned the diplomatic efforts made by Albanian government in making progress with the visa liberalization process, the conditions that need to be met to complete this process, the main difficulties in meeting the needed criteria, and the government’s future steps in making further progress in this direction. He also explained in detail the agreement with EU that was implemented in 2008, focusing on the main categories that benefited from the agreement, the modalities, the payment fees, the criteria, etc. This series of media briefings is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Network Media Program.

ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING TRAINING

A training course on environmental reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on December 16-19, with the participation of 12 reporters from Tirana-based print and electronic media. The aim of the course was to introduce participants to the main environmental problems Albania faces and the need to raise awareness of these issues through correct and well-informed reporting. For this purpose, speakers included deputy Minister of Environment, directors of several directorates at the same ministry, environmental experts, representatives of environmental NGOs, etc. Through the discussions with the lecturers, the journalists were introduced to the range of problems that Albanian environment faces currently and the attempts made to counter these problems, to the main projects assessing environment situation, the main online and other resources journalists can use when reporting on environment, as well as the importance of improving investigative journalism for a better reporting of environmental problems and wrongdoings. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Democracy Commission Program of the US Embassy in Tirana.

STUDY VISIT OF MINORITY JOURNALISTS

A study visit of journalists from Perspektiva magazine, published in Albanian in Presheva,  took place in Tirana on December 9-13. The main aim of the study visit was to improve professional skills of these journalists in better serving their community through the magazine. For this purpose, the study trip was a combination of lectures and training with visits to relevant media outlets for a wider experience. The journalists became familiar with the minority media in Albania and the main challenges they face, the Albanian Code of Ethics and its adoption on minorities and ethical issues, as well as the situation of journalists in Albania in terms of professionalism and labour relations. Other professional skills training included the basics in news writing and different techniques used, writing for a magazine, interviewing techniques, management and sales for a small newspaper, and writing for the web and online media. The journalists also visited weekly MAPO and Klan magazines, and Vizion Plus TV, exchanging experiences with media directors in these outlets. This study trip was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of OSCE mission to Serbia.

 

2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002