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Newsletters Archive
AMI Newsletters             2009

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

AMI NEWSLETTER - January 2009


EVICTION OF NEWSPAPER STAFF CAUSES REACTIONS

The staff of daily Tema newspaper has not been able to enter the premises of their newspaper since January 9th, after these premises were surrounded by police. This came after a decision by the Ministry of Economical Affairs to cancel the newspaper's 20-year-old contract for the premises. A lawsuit issued by TemA followed and the Court of Tirana decided in favour of the newspaper on 6 January.

The eviction of TemA, which has frequently criticized official corruption, has been condemned by Albanian journalists’ associations and by international organizations focusing on freedom of expression, such as Committee to Protect Journalists, the Reporters without Borders, SEEMO, and Transparency International. More specifically, these organizations urged the government to respect the court decision, stating that free and independent media is one of the basic conditions to combat corruption effectively. In their statements, these organizations emphasized that if journalists feel intimidated when carrying out their jobs, one of the most important pillars of good governance and accountability systems will be weakened.

TRAINING SESSION ON ETHICAL MEDIA COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS

A training course on ethical media coverage of elections was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on January 26-30, with the participation of 15 political reporters and editors from mainstream capital-based, print and electronic media. The main aim of the training was to improve media coverage of elections from the ethical point of view, in view of the new changes made to the electoral system, law and code. For this purpose, different lecturers tackled the main issues in this matter for the participants. Reporters became familiar with the new additions and changes made to the electoral system, along with the ramifications they have on media coverage. Specific attention was paid to the existing professional and ethical standards in covering elections, present in the code of ethics, in the law, and having in mind experience of other countries.

The participants were also briefed on the main monitoring bodies of elections’ coverage, and their role in the electoral process. Reports of these bodies, along with specific examples from previous elections’ media coverage were discussed by the lecturers and participants, drawing the respective conclusions and identifying potential solutions. Finally, a special part of the training session was allotted to the relations of media with candidates and institutions that manage electoral process, based on previous examples. This training session was organized in the framework of a more extensive project focused on media ethics, implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

OPEN FORUM ON GLOBAL PERCEPTIONS OF THE VIRTUAL WORLD

Global perceptions of the virtual world was the focus of an Open Forum organized on January 8th, with the participation of media editors, reporters, and analysts, as well as civil society representatives and faculty and students from European University of Tirana and Marubi Multimedia & Film Academy. Key speakers were Bruce Williams from William Paterson University in New Jersey, Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute, Henri Cili and Elvis Hoxha from European University of Tirana. Some of the topics addressed by the key speakers included the local and global nature of information and media nowadays depending on technological and other developments, the changing role and perceptions of cinema and television as media compared to the 70s, the increasing opportunities for participation and the consequent alterations these novelties bring to the substance of the content produced, etc.

Other topics included the comparison between new media and old media and more specifically the needs and manners of adaptation and the respective consequences, the change in the audience’s habits and their impact on the production of content, the contribution of this changing media to the public debate, and the discussion on future changes of these media. In addition, the speakers presented the pro and con views vis-à-vis the so-called virtual democracy, the instrumentalization of media in a democratic society, media pluralism, etc. The participants engaged in different topics of debate related to media diversity, market influence in media content production, educative role of the media, media and its relation to other powers, selection filters vis-à-vis overwhelming information, etc. This series of forums is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Network Media Program.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON DIGITALIZATION

A Media Dialogue focused on switchover to digital broadcasting in Albania, its impact on current media landscape and expected changes. This event was organized on January 23, with the participation of journalists and editors from mainstream media, both print and electronic ones. The participants became familiar with the main EU requirements regarding the telecommunications area relevant to digital switchover and the current standards to apply regarding content of broadcasting. Specific attention was paid to criteria of access to services, universal services, authorization requirements, and the overall regulatory framework regarding the technical aspect.

After gaining familiarity with the EU standards and efforts in the area of digital switchover, Alban Karapici, deputy chair of the National Council of Radio and Television, introduced the participants to the Albanian situation in this area. He focused on the current situation of the frequency spectrum, on the digital TV packages offered in the market, the approved law on digital broadcasting, and the strategy for the digital switchover, with the respective scenarios. He discussed with the participants the main challenges of applying this strategy, such as the financial cost, the need for analogue operators to agree on the way to tackle this future development, the role the public broadcaster should play in the process, and the ways the consumer might be affected by the overall process. This series of Media Dialogues is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Network Media Program.

OPEN FORUM ON MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT

An Open Forum focused on Middle East affairs was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on January 16. Lecturer was Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Participants included editors, reporters of current affairs, civil society representatives, etc. The lecturer focused on three main aspects: a general overview on Middle East affairs, the current situation on Gaza Strip, and Israeli-Palestinian relations.  He gave a brief overview of the circumstances that led to the foundation of Israeli as a state, the different struggles for territory since 1948, and the diplomatic efforts that have led to the final recognition of Israeli state by Egypt and hence the breach of the Arab front. Specific attention was paid to the lengthy peace process that led to the peace between Palestine and Israeli, the different wings within Palestinian resistance, the rise of Hamas and its continuous strengthening. The lecturer addressed the current situation in Gaza Strip, its impact for both countries, the diplomatic ramifications, and the complex situation given the support by other countries of fundamentalist wing. Finally, participants and lecturer discussed the role of diplomacy in the conflict, especially in view of the outcome of the US elections. This series of forums is organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON MEDIA AND ELECTIONS

A training course on media and elections was organized on January 14-16, with the participation of 12 local reporters from both print and electronic media. In view of the coming general elections, this series of training courses was designed in order to introduce the journalists to the changes in the electoral system and at improving media reporting on future elections. Lecturers were ex-members of previous Central Elections Committee, lawyers in this area, experts in media ethics, members of monitoring boards of media coverage of elections, representatives of organizations carrying out surveys and polls on elections’ outcome, etc.

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. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

PROFESSIONAL SKILLS TRAINING ON INTERVIEWING

Interviewing techniques training was the topic of the professional skills training that took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 19-23, with the participation of 15 print journalists from Tirana and other cities. The main objective of the course was to provide journalists with advanced professional skills regarding interviewing techniques, since this is the basic everyday work done by journalists. Trainer was Benet Koleka, professor at the Faculty of Journalism.

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

TRAINING ON SOUND EDITING

A training course on sound editing was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on January 28-30, with the participation of 10 radio reporters. The main objective of this course was to improve professional skills of journalists in sound editing and introduce them to the latest techniques and sounds they can use in their work. During the training the participants became familiar with the concepts and manners of usage of sound in traditional journalism and online one. More specifically, the training focused on the main formats that are in use and their specific traits, the appliances used to record, and the editing programs. Participants had the chance to test their knowledge in practice, engaging in various duties, such as usage of different programs for online recording, and different manners of editing with the respective programs. Once the recorded material was ready, the reporters went on with ways of broadcasting it, such as posting in blogs, in webpages, or in traditional media. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.

FORMER NEWSPAPER OWNER AND DIRECTOR DECORATED

Nikolle Lesi, ex-owner of daily Koha Jone, and Carlo Bollino, former director of daily Gazeta Shqiptare, received the Medal of Recognition by the President of Albania on January 21st. The motivation for Bollino was for contributing to the establishment and development of media in Albania, which constitute an important factor in progress of democracy. Meanwhile, Lesi was praised as founder of first independent newspaper in Albania, which became a journalism school for future journalists. Many journalists, editors, and analysts participated in the event.

JOURNALISM STUDENTS PROTEST ON DIPLOMA FORMATS

Journalism students of public University of Tirana protested against the format of their diploma as decided by Ministry of Education. The students claimed that the Ministry had not considered the suggestions of their Senate when determining the format of the diploma. The current format has several shortcomings according to the students: the lack of study branch, the title of graduation, and it does not conform to Bologna Chart requirements. According to the students, double standards have been used in the format of the diploma, as compared to the formats of private universities and previous graduates of the public university. The Union of Journalists also joined the protest of students, urging the Ministry to find a solution to their problem.


AMI NEWSLETTER - February 2009


OPEN FORUM ON KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY

Given the first anniversary of Kosovo independence, an open forum on the current cituation and challenges in Kosovo was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 18th, with the participation of editors and reporters from capital-based media, as well as representatives of civil society. Distinguished speaker was Rexhep Mejdani, former-President of Republic of Albania. He started his lecture with a brief history of the division of the territories after the Balkan wars and a concise narration on the context that brought about the present boundaries. Afterwards, he focused mainly on the opportunities and challenges that Kosovo faces after independence. He analyzed several regional initiatives in the Balkans, such as CEFTA, CEI, SECI, etc., assessing Kosovo’s opportunities in joining these initiatives. However, the main focus of his lecture was related to the future of Kosovo and its integration into the EU and NATO. Mejdani analyzed the various criteria that Kosovo needs to meet in this regard and the expected changes in Kosovo society as a result of attempts to integration. Particular attention was paid to the multi-ethnic aspect of Kosovo’s society and the criteria that need to be met in this case. Finally, all future integration attempts and challenges were discussed against a backdrop of foreign policy interests of most influential states in this regard. This open forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

US DEPARTMENT OF STATE TACKLES MEDIA FREEDOM IN ALBANIA

The US Department of State annual report in 2008 analyzed among others the situation of media freedom, stating that while the government generally respected the rights to free speech and press, there were reports that the government and businesses exerted indirect pressure on the media. According to the report, while the media were active and largely unrestrained, there were serious problems with the use of the media for political purposes. The report concluded that in spite of questionable political purposes, the investigative role of the media increased.

However, journalists regularly practiced self-censorship in 2008, the report says.
Journalists continued to complain that publishers and editors censored their work either directly or indirectly in response to political and commercial pressures. Many journalists complained that their lack of employment contracts frequently hindered their ability to report objectively. The report states that media outlets were divided along political lines and, toward the end of the year, politicization increased with the approaching 2009 parliamentary elections. While stations generally operated free of direct government influence, most owners believed that the content of their broadcasts could influence government action toward their other businesses. In addition, there was little transparency in the financing of the media.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

A Media Dialogue focused on protection of intellectual property was organized on February 17, with the participation of journalists and editors from mainstream media, both print and electronic ones. The participants were briefed on the main international documents that cover the issue of copyright and intellectual property, such as Convention of Berne, Convention of Rome, TRIPS Agreement, the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, etc. The documents also included some of the main EU directives in relation to copyright. In addition to presenting the main international documents affecting copyright, journalists also became familiar with the main areas and principles of copyright law in Albania, the work done by the Directory of Brands and Patents, and the efforts to establish an office for protection of copyright. In addition, Piro Milkani, director of the Forum for Protection of Audiovisual Authors, presented the participants with the overall progress and main problems in copyright protection, sharing the experience of his organization in this area. The participants brought several examples of violation of copyright in the media scene, but not only, discussing the way the implementation of international documents applied in these cases. This media dialogue series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS

A roundtable discussion focusing on an ethical coverage of elections in the media was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 25th, with the participation of mainstream media editors, reporters, and civil society representatives. The main aim of this roundtable was to identify the main challenges for an ethical and informed coverage of the electoral campaign and outcome of the elections. Some of the main topics addressed by the key speakers included the new tasks posed to the media coverage of elections with the new Code of Elections, the Code of Ethics’ chapter in this regard and its implementation by the various newsrooms, the role of monitoring bodies for the purpose of media coverage of elections, the role of media forums and trainings on increasing professionalism in reporting this important period to the public, etc. The participants also provided their own experience and challenges they face in this aspect, such as politicization of media outlets as elections draw closer, interference of politicians during electoral campaigns, lack of transparency of political parties’ campaigns, and occasional lack of transparency from media itself in several cases. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

TRAINING COURSE ON INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

A training course on investigative journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on February 9-13, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media. The course was specifically focused on investigating corruption, since this is one of the most widely covered stories in the media. The topics addressed by the trainers were related to the investigative role of the journalist, presenting different methods of gathering information. He also provided a brief history of investigative journalism, bringing practical examples both from Albania and abroad. Further on, the lectures continued with instruction on how to draft and follow an investigative story, including both advantages and risks of this genre of journalism. Part of the lectures involved an introduction to the Law on Access to Information and how it helps investigative journalists, as well as a brief introduction to the code of investigative reporting. Finally, the trainers addressed the topic of computer assisted investigative reporting, safe sources of information, using databases and search engines, etc. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.

TRAINING COURSE ON MEDIA AND ELECTIONS

A training course on media and elections was organized on February 18-20 in Elbasan, with the participation of 12 local reporters from both print and electronic media. In view of the coming general elections, this series of training courses was designed in order to introduce the journalists to the changes in the electoral system and at improving media reporting on future elections. Lecturers were ex-members of previous Central Elections Committee, lawyers in this area, experts in media ethics, members of monitoring boards of media coverage of elections, representatives of organizations carrying out surveys and polls on elections’ outcome, etc. 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. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON SELF-REGULATION AT ONLINE NEWS AGENCY BALKANWEB NEWSROOM

An in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of online news agency Balkanweb. The training session took place on February 3-5, 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 the nature of an online media as compared to other traditional media, as well as on the need to strike a balance between the more direct approach of an online media and the need to uphold media ethics and respect privacy and other rights. 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 TV reality shows, given the daily reporting of this media on this section. 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. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

ROUNDTABLE PRESENTATION ON RESEARCH ON MINORITY MEDIA LANDSCAPE

A roundtable aiming to present a research on the landscape of minority media was organized on February 26 at the Albanian Media Institute. A survey on minority media was published in December 2005, containing a database on the main aspects and development trends of minority media in the country. In order to examine the progress of minority media in this period, a similar survey was repeated and the data was compared to those of 2005. Information for this publication was provided by owners, directors, and editors of minority media. After providing a brief glimpse of the general legal framework on and situation of minority groups in the country, the publication conveys an analysis of the main aspects of media development among minorities. Some of the trends featured in this analysis are the development of minority media through the years, the financial problems it faces, the frequency of publications, the fabric of the staff, in terms such as gender ration, dominating age groups, education, etc. The survey also has a section on training needs of minority media, as indicated by the representatives of these media. This project was implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.


TRAINING COURSE ON COMPUTER ASSISTED REPORTING

A training course on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 25-27, with the participation of ten journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to assist Albanian 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 media pages on the web, advanced methods of searching, introduction to different databases and search engines. 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.


AMI NEWSLETTER - March 2009


TRAINING COURSE ON MEDIA AND ELECTIONS

A training course on media and elections was organized on March 4-6 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. In view of the coming general elections, this series of training courses was designed in order to introduce the journalists to the changes in the electoral system and at improving media reporting on future elections. Lecturers were ex-members of previous Central Elections Committee, lawyers in this area, experts in media ethics, members of monitoring boards of media coverage of elections, representatives of organizations carrying out surveys and polls on elections’ outcome, etc. 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. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of National Endowment for Democracy.

OPEN FORUM ON TRANS-ATLANTIC RELATIONS

An open forum on trans-Atlantic relations was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 12th, with the participation of editors, journalists, analysts, and NGO representatives. Distinguished speaker was Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, Director of the Madrid Office of the European Council for International Relations, as well as columnist in El Pais. Previously he has been Senior Analyst for EU affairs at El Cano Royal Institute for International Affairs. The main aim of the open forum was to analyze the positions and developments of the trans-Atlantic relations, especially after the election of Obama as U.S. President. The current situation and foreign policy considerations of EU and the US were discussed, along with the main economic and political interests and their influence in shaping the relations between EU and the US. Specific attention was paid to the role of Russia in the global arena, and relations of Russia both with the EU and the US, stressing the need for a common policy vis-à-vis Russia. This open forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with the Spanish Embassy in Tirana, with the support of Network Media Program.

CONFERENCE ON MEDIA SELF-REGULATION MARKS START OF TWO-YEAR PROJECT

A conference on media self-regulation in South East European was organized in Tirana by the Albanian Media Institute on March 6-7. The main aim of the conference was to introduce a UNESCO project dealing with developing media self-regulation, by introducing and sharing the different practices in all countries of the region. The conference gathered 27 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey. Participants included journalists, editors, journalism trainers, representatives of media centres and unions of journalists, media researchers, experts in media ethics and self-regulation, representatives of press councils, media councils, councils of honour and other branch organizations, as well as active readers’ representatives and newsroom ombudspersons. The main objectives of the UNESCO project, with EU support, are to develop self-regulation tools and mechanisms, and to increase the awareness of self-regulation among media professionals and organizations in the region.

OPEN FORUM ON MACEDONIAN ELECTIONS

This month’s open forum focused on Macedonian elections and took place at Albanian Media Institute on March 27th. Lecturer Shaban Murati, director of Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, introduced the main developments in the region and the importance of Macedonian elections in this context. He focused particularly on the Albanian factor in Macedonia, namely the political parties and relations they have with Macedonian parties, the other negative precedents in past elections, electoral violence, etc. He also discussed the role of these elections in the start of negotiations for EU membership, along with the ramifications these developments have for the next parliamentary elections in Albania in late June. He particularly focused on the main elements of the electoral campaign, analyzing Albanian and Macedonian parties, their strategies, alliances, and results from previous elections. The participants discussed the potential role that the Albanian factor might play in the second round of voting and in the region’s developments in general. This open forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Network Media Program.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON ALBANIA’S APPLICATION FOR EU CANDIDATE STATUS

A media briefing focused on Albania’s application for EU member was organized on March 3 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of reporters and editors from mainstream media. The main aim of the media briefing was to introduce the debate on the right timing of application for Albania to become a candidate for EU membership, having in mind all factors involved. For this purpose, Ditmir Bushati, director of European Movement Albania and EU integration expert, briefed the participants on the procedure involved in applying to be a candidate, the government’s arguments, and the different stages involved in the whole process. He discussed the issue of application against the background of Czech presidency, the global financial crisis, the Lisbon Treaty, relations with Obama presidency, elections in Germany, etc. Then, he discussed with participants the main scenarios that might happen after a potential application, bringing as examples also the Croatian and Macedonian experiences. Afterwards, the discussion evolved around the main areas that need improvement in order to succeed in this application stage. This media briefing was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON HEALTH REPORTING

A training course aimed to improve reporting on health issues was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 9-13, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the training was to raise awareness on public health issues among the media and the general public. 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 EU.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION

A media dialogue on access to information issues and legislation was organized on February 26th at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of journalists, editors, and NGO representatives. The participants were briefed on the main international documents that cover access to information, such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention of Human Rights, several declarations and recommendations of Council of Europe, UNESCO’s Bucharest Declaration, EU’s Data Protection Directive, etc. The participants also became familiar with the main aspects of Albanian legislation on this area and discussed with Ilir Aliaj, director of the Center for Democratization and Strengthening of the Institutions, on the way the law is implemented, its main deficiencies and the recent attempts to amend the law in several aspects. Specific attention was paid to the amendments pending in the parliament on the law on access to information, such as the issue of timelines, costs, establishment of information offices, etc. Participants also became familiar with some lawsuits and trials against public institutions related to compliance with the law on access to information. This media dialogue series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING ON CIVIL SOCIETY REPORTING

A training course on civil society reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 17-20, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main objective of the training was to raise awareness on the development of civil society, its current situation and the main challenges it faces. For this purpose, the participants were introduced to some surveys done in this regard, on the sustainability index of NGOs, and the main stages of development from 1991. Statistics, legal framework and surveys on NGOs constituted also the basis for discussion on the topic between lecturers and participants. Manner of organization, intensity of activity, human resources characteristics, financial support, cooperation with state and EU institutions, and involvement of NGO activists into politics were also addressed during the course. Other topics discussed included the communist legacy and its implication for development of NGO sector, a comparison of this area’s development compared to other countries in the region, the main shortcomings in this sector, the public image of NGOs, as well as their relations with the media. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the U.S. Embassy.

LAUNCH OF PUBLICATION ON KOSOVO AND MEDIA

The coverage of the situation of Kosovo in the Albanian print media has been predominantly fair and neutral; at the same time media outlets have been relying more on news agencies than their own sources. This was one of the conclusions of the roundtable discussion and book launch hosted by the Albanian Media Institute on March 13th. At the event Remzi Lani, foreign policy and media analyst, and Ilda Londo, media researcher of AMI, presented the Albanian edition of the publication “Kosovo and the Media”. After the participants became familiar with the main findings of the monitoring on the media coverage of Kosovo independence in the main daily newspapers, Remzi Lani provided his views analyzing the progress made through the years in Albanian media in covering foreign policy issues and Kosovo. While the improvement of coverage was certainly emphasized along with the lack of bias or complexes when reporting on Kosovo and Serbia, it was also mentioned that media are still far from achieving an analytical role that would inform and shape public opinion in the country on these matters. 

The discussion evolved around several issues related to foreign policy, such as Kosovo’s recognition and the Albanian diplomacy efforts in this case, the issue of Greater Albania, diplomatic positions, the roles played by several countries involved, and the way these were portrayed in the media.  The book, published by the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media(SEENPM,) examines the media coverage of Kosovo during the independence period in 2008 in 11 South Eastern and Central European. The roundtable was organized and supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation(KAS) Media Program SEE, and Albanian Media Institute.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA SELF-REGULATION

A training seminar on media self-regulation took place in Tirana on March 23, with the participation of mainstream media reporters. This marks the start of a series of seminars on this topic, which will be organized in other cities of the country. The seminar focused on the introduction of self-regulation as a concept, on the code of ethics, on an overview of self-regulatory bodies in Europe, and on the methods use to solve the complaints by these bodies. More specifically, advantages and disadvantages of self-regulation to statutory regulation were discussed, the main principles and dilemmas on ethical issues, functioning methods of self-regulatory bodies, etc. Trainer was Adeline Hulin, media self-regulation expert at the OSCE office in Vienna. The training was organized by OSCE and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, with the support of EU.


AMI NEWSLETTER - April 2009


SEMINAR ON NATO ROLE IN THE BALKANS

A training seminar on the impact of NATO on Albania and on the region of Balkans in the future was organized on April 27th at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of mainstream print and electronic media reporters. The objective of the seminar was to inform the media and hence the Albanian public on the immediate and future consequences of NATO membership after the Kehl-Strasbourg meeting. Distinguished speakers in this seminar were Mr. Rexhep Mejdani, ex-President of Republic of Albania, Mr. Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Minister of Defence, and Mr. Shaban Murati, Director of the Diplomatic Academy. The main topics addressed during the seminar included the role of NATO in the global context, the transformation of this role through the years and different periods, the ramifications of these changes for member states and other areas, and its future role and the way it is expected to evolve. The seminar also addressed the regional context of Balkans after the recent high-level meeting, the significance of this meeting and its outcome, the re-definition of balance of power in the Balkans, and the expected future developments in the region in this context. Finally, speakers focused on the specific obligations of Albania after becoming a NATO member, as well as the impact this membership might have in country’s future developments. This seminar marked the start of a series of media awareness seminars on issues of international affairs, which will go on with other relevant topics. This seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON DEFAMATION REGULATION

A media policy dialogue on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, was organized on April 28th. 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 lecturer 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 compared them to international standards and ECHR case-law. In addition, he explained the amendments proposed by civil society that are still 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 dialogue series is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

MEDIA PERCEIVED AS STRONGEST FIGHTER AGAINST CORRUPTION

The public believes that the media is the institution with greatest commitment in fighting corruption in the country, the latest survey on corruption reports. According to this survey, more than 63% of the persons interviewed believed that media is the leading institution in fighting corruption, followed by civil society, police, etc. Also, the media is perceived as among the least corrupted actors in the country, after religious leaders and the President. These perceptions are set against a backdrop of increased perceived corruption: about half of the general public sample (48.5%) thinks that corruption has increased compared to a year ago, while 38% think it has remained at the same level. This report presents the findings of the 2009 general public, public sector employees, and judges’ surveys on corruption issues. This is the fifth report following the 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008 reports. The main objective of these surveys is to measure over time the general perception, attitude, and experiences of corruption in Albania. The survey was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development and it was prepared by the Institute for Development and Research Alternatives (IDRA.)

TRAINING ON REPORTING ON ELECTIONS

A training course on media and elections was organized on April 8-10 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media based in Tirana and other cities. In view of the coming general elections, this course aimed to introduce the journalists to the changes in the electoral system and at improving media reporting on future elections. Lecturers were ex-members of previous Central Elections Committee, lawyers in this area, experts in media ethics, members of monitoring boards of media coverage of elections, representatives of organizations carrying out surveys and polls on elections’ outcome, etc. Some of the main aspects addressed during the courses included an assessment of different electoral systems applied through the years in Albania, the introduction of the new electoral system and its ramifications, familiarity with the new implementing bodies, etc.

Other aspects addressed during the lectures included examples from reporting of past electoral campaigns in print media, discussion of case studies, specific traits of print media coverage vis-à-vis electronic one, the impact of the changed Electoral Code on media coverage and its role in public information, monitoring boards of electronic media coverage during elections and their competencies, etc. The lecturers also discussed with the participants the professional standards in covering electoral process, the Code of Ethics and other relevant codes in electoral reporting, the legal obligations in coverage of electronic media, etc. Participants also brought practical examples in specific situations of campaign and electoral process management during the past elections. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy.

OPEN FORUM ON POLITICAL COMMUNICATION DURING ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS

An open forum focused on political communication during electoral campaigns was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on April 24, with the participation of reporters, editors, and civil society representatives. Speaker was Artan Fuga, well-known academic and author. The specific aspects tackled were the basics of political communication, the classical and contemporary actors, the role of media, and social aspects and impact of media in this overall communication. The lecturer addressed various ways of expression or tools that politicians use for communication and how they affect media reporting. He explained various forms of political action and non-verbal communication, as well as the need to focus on the mean rather than source of communication. The lecturer then shifted to classical and contemporary actors in political communication. He discussed with the participants the myth of objectivity and the role and social weight of the media as a mediator between politics and the public. He also focused on the role of political campaigns and the communication tools used, with a perspective on what media should be aware of in this ongoing communication. This open forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON CORRUPTION REPORTING

A training course on corruption reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on April 14-17 and 21, with the participation of 15 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. During the course 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, their implementation in practice, and the current anti-corruption policies. 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 EU.

TRAINING COURSE ON PHOTOJOURNALISM

A training course on photojournalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on April 6-10, with the participation of 15 reporters from Tirana based media outlets. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants to the main principles of photojournalism, the notions of reporting through images, and digital photo editing. The trainers started by reviewing the role of photos, layout, and graphics in present Albanian media scene. Then he focused on the main elements of good photographs and on the different genres in this area, such as concept, silhouette, colour and black and white, texture, etc. Special attention was paid to learning to make portraits, focusing especially on the different formats of photographing, editing for different purposes and media, cropping, etc. The training followed with an introduction to the basics of digital photography, providing examples from news photography in Albania and in the world. Other topics addressed included the concepts of photo news and photo story, illustrating the different genres with an archive of Magnum agency. The participants were able to test the knowledge gained during the course in practice, by shooting different images of a general theme titled “Urban photo.” The professional skills’ training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

LOCAL NEWS REPORTING TRAINING

A training course on local news reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 30-April 3, with the participation of 15 reporters from both print and electronic media. The main objective of the course was to introduce participants to the main facets in the adoption of a local news angle when reporting for local communities. For this purpose the lecturers addressed several issues, such as the specific traits of local media reporting and the specific features of working for a local media, and competition and survival challenges of local media against a backdrop of globalization. The training followed with specific ideas and discussion on how to identify and address the reality at the local level and respond to community interests in reporting, treatment of sources of information, and writing style for local media. Specific attention was paid to interviewing sources of information, challenges of investigative journalism in a small community, writing of features, civic journalism, and challenges of access to journalism in a small community. In addition, the adoption of new technologies in improving local news reporting, as well as the main traits of managing local media outlets were addressed by the lecturers and participants. The training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

ROUNDTABLE ON CRIME REPORTING AND PRIVACY ISSUES IN ALBANIAN MEDIA

A roundtable made of reporters and editors convened on April 29th to discuss the main trends and problems related to crime and court reporting and the problems of intrusion to privacy by Albanian media. The basis for discussion was provided by two monitoring reports on these two topics, which monitored main daily newspapers for a one-month period.  Some of the main issues discussed included the identification of minors, the coverage of suicides, sensationalism in the news, usage of headlines and gory images, sentimentalism and victimization notes in coverage of crime reporting, etc. Specific attention was paid to the shortcomings of media in reporting on the phenomena rather than the mere news in this aspect. In addition, the discussion also focused on media intrusion into privacy, making a distinction between public and private persons in this case. Finally discussion evolved around issues such as what are the rights and obligations of media to intrude into one’s private life, what is the boundary between the public’s right to know and the right to privacy, the trends of news becoming banal due to inability to report on the phenomenon, the need for improving media ethics and for setting up a self-regulatory body, etc. This roundtable and monitoring reports were carried out by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

TRAINING COURSE ON ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING

A training course on environmental reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on April 21-24 and 27, with the participation of 15 reporters from print and electronic media. The course’s objective was to introduce to the participants the main aspects of reporting on environment, as well as identify tools and manners to improve current reporting on this topic. Lecturers included experienced environmental reporters, representatives of environmental NGOs, Deputy Minister of Environment, environment and communication experts, 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 balance between sustainable development and environmental protection and the effects of global warming on the environment were two other major topics addressed throughout the course. This training course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.


AMI NEWSLETTER - May 2009


WORK FOR MONITORING MEDIA COVERAGE OF ELECTION STARTS

In view of general elections to be held on June 28th, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) opened an election observation mission in Tirana on May 8. Part of this mission also includes monitoring media coverage of elections in the main media outlets. This mission issued on May 26th its first interim report for the period May 8-21. In order to assess the media coverage of the campaign, the OSCE/ODIHR EOM has, since 18 May, been conducting media monitoring of the prime-time broadcasting of five television channels (TVSH, Top Channel, TV Klan, Vizion Plus and News24) and of the content of four daily newspapers (Panorama, Shqip, Gazeta Shqiptare and 55).

In addition, according to Albanian law, media coverage of the election campaign is monitored by a Media Monitoring Board. This Board was established by the Central Election Commission on 19 May, where each CEC member proposes a Media Monitoring Board member. The Board will be assisted in its mission of monitoring media coverage of elections by National Council of Radio and Television.

TRAINING SEMINARS ON MEDIA AND ELECTIONS

Albanian Media Institute and Council of Europe organized two two-day seminars in Tirana on May 26-29, with the participation of 40 reporters. The two seminars were targeted at print and electronic media journalists, aiming to train them on the new Albanian Electoral Code and to improve their professional skills in covering elections. Kristaq Kume from Albanian Elections Institute, ex-chairman of Central Elections Commission, focused on the evolution of electoral systems in Albania through the years. Particular attention was paid to the newly introduced electoral system, law, and Code. By comparing it to previous systems and elections, the lecturer focused on the novelties this system brought and on what journalists should expect. Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, focused on media regulation during electoral campaigns, discussing with participants a potential media code of conduct when covering elections.

Henrik Keith Hansen, media expert from Danish Broadcasting Corporation, addressed the main criteria in reporting elections in a professional manner, based on Council of Europe standards of fairness, balance, and objectivity of election reporting. Other issues he addressed during his lecture included the importance of identifying public concerns when reporting on elections, ways of involving the public in covering elections, manners to handle strategies of political parties vis-à-vis the media, and media ethics in political and election reporting. The lecturer discussed these issues with reporters and gave them the opportunity to test in practice these principles through class exercises. Participants also received a copy of the manual “Fair and Balanced Election Reporting,” written by the lecturer. 

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON AUDIOVISUAL POLICIES

A media dialogue on international documents affecting media, which aims to brief journalists and editors with main documents, implementation, and consequences, was organized on May 25 at the Albanian Media Institute. 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 dialogue series will continue with other areas and is organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON OPINION POLLS REPORTING

A training course on reporting of opinion polls was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 4-8, with the participation of journalists from print and electronic media. Given the recently introduced practice of conducting opinion polls, especially related to elections, the aim of the course was to train journalists on how to improve their reporting skills on opinion polls. For this purpose, the journalists were introduced to the main principles of conducting opinion polls, the different methodologies employed for these polls, reporting on polls having in mind the sample and margin of error, continuous polls as opposed to special polls, interviewing methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages, etc. In addition, participants were introduced to the main aspects to have in mind when reporting on polls, such as full coverage of opinion polls as compared to partial, only-results coverage, conveying the results in a public-friendly manner, safeguarding objectivity and professionalism vis-à-vis political interference and interests, debates on opinion polls reporting, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDIA SELF-REGULATION

A national conference on media self-regulation was organized on MAY 6th in Tirana, with the participation of media owners, managers, editors, and reporters from local and national media. The main aim of the conference is to provide participants with knowledge on the Romanian Press Club as a basis for establishing in the future an Albanian self-regulatory body. In this context, the representatives of the Romanian Press Club discussed with the participants the history of establishment of this body, its relations to media outlets, the role of this club in media development, specific programs offered by this club, etc. More specifically, other issues tackled included the statute of the Romanian Press Club, membership, fees, organizational structure, division of votes, funding resouces, etc. Participants asked questions and discussed with guest lecturers the main problems and challenges that a self-regulatory body faces. This conference was organized by OSCE Presence in Albania with the support of EU Delegation Commission in Albania and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

TRAINING COURSE ON CIVIL SOCIETY REPORTING

A training course on civil society reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on May 11-15, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main objective of the training was to raise awareness on the development of civil society, its current situation and the main challenges it faces. For this purpose, the participants were introduced to some surveys done in this regard, on the sustainability index of NGOs, and the main stages of development from 1991. Statistics, legal framework and surveys on NGOs constituted also the basis for discussion on the topic between lecturers and participants. Manner of organization, intensity of activity, human resources characteristics, financial support, cooperation with state and EU institutions, and involvement of NGO activists into politics were also addressed during the course. Other topics discussed included the communist legacy and its implication for development of NGO sector, a comparison of this area’s development compared to other countries in the region, the main shortcomings in this sector, the public image of NGOs, as well as their relations with the media. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

FORUM ON GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

A forum aiming to brief media representatives on the current global financial crisis was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 19, with the participation of 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. Lecturers were Shkelqim Cani, ex-Governor of Central Bank of Albania, and Zef Preci, director of Albanian Center for Economic studies. They 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 lectures 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 forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

OPEN FORUM ON CHINA’S ROLE IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS

An open forum on China’s role in current global affairs was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 13, with the participation of editors and journalists from both print and electronic media. Roland Bimo, diplomat and expert in international relations, lectured on the role of China in current international affairs. In his lecture he focused on three main aspects: economic development of China, the rise of China and India as two new powers in Asia, and on the relations between China and USA. More specifically, he addressed the quick rise of China in today’s world order, focusing especially on China’s spectacular economic growth, which is expected to have significant influence in this century’s developments. He also discussed with the participants the pacific nature of Chinese influence, which is not expected to unbalance the new world order. Specific attention was paid to role of Chinese economy in global financial crisis, addressing issues such as policies that promote exports, openness to foreign investments, China-US trade relations, etc. Finally, the lecturer also focused on Chinese foreign policy, especially in the aspects of sovereignty and policy of non-interference, also addressing in this context the Chinese unresolved national questions and the negative record of human rights. This forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON MEDIA ELECTION REPORTING

An in-depth training course on reporting on elections was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 18-22, with the participation of journalists from print and electronic media. The main aim of this training was to improve reporting skills of journalists that report on elections by covering all important aspects of the role of media in this process. For this purpose, journalists were introduced to the new Electoral Code, Law, and system, being briefed on the novelties it presented as compared to the previous systems. They were also introduced to the evolution of electoral system and laws through the years, from establishment of Albanian state to date, highlighting the most noteworthy events of general and local elections, as well as referenda. Specific attention was paid to professional dilemmas in media coverage of elections, such as preserving independence, declaring media affiliation with a political wing, taking sides, covering defaming speeches and statements, reporting having in mind the battle of interests from all sides, reporting having in mind the role of independent institutions, etc. In this aspect, special issues of focus included main sources of information, on-field reporters and collaborators, headquarters of competing subjects, official authorities, NGO representatives, international institutions, etc. In addition, journalists became familiar with and discussed the main legal provisions in media coverage of elections, discussing the main challenges and difficulties these obligations posed for their work in covering electoral campaign. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

PUBLICATION ON THEORIES OF COMMUNICATION

“Introduction to theories of communication” is among the latest publication in the area of communication studies. The book, by Jean-Pierre Meunier and Daniel Peraya, aims to offer a semiotic-pragmatic analysis of media communication, focusing on the main theories of communication. In the course of this analysis, they offer on issues such as the evolution of the model of communication in different ways of conveying the message, use of words versus images, the specific features and potential of audiovisual and script communication, etc. Finally, the role of media in modern society as the ultimate environment where all this communication takes place is analyzed. The book was published by Centre of Albanian Studies “European Albania.”


AMI NEWSLETTER - June 2009


MEDIA OUTLETS MONITORED DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Main electronic media outlets in the country were monitored by both Media Monitoring Board, appointed by Central Elections Commission, and by OSCE/ODIHR. The Board has progressed monitoring airtime according to subjects and making the necessary recommendations for compensating main parties in accordance with previous coverage and shortcomings. However, the MMB members could not agree at some points whether several events in which the Prime Minister campaigned in his institutional function were assessed as being institutional events or campaign events, leading to release of two separate reports on the matter, endorsed by four and three members of the Board respectively.

On the other hand, OSCE/ODIHR EOM media monitoring, which has started shortly before the official campaign, indicates that in the two weeks before the start of the official campaign, the monitored broadcasters in their prime-time news and current-affairs programs provided unbalanced and partial coverage of the main political subjects. According to the report, although all monitored TV stations devoted a majority of the time allocated to political subjects to the DP, the tone of the coverage differed, at times significantly. Both ODIHR and Media Monitoring Board will release their final reports for the whole campaign shortly.

TRAINING COURSE ON POVERTY REPORTING

A training course on poverty reporting took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 1-5, with the participation of 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 the EU.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON MEDIA AND POPULISM

A media dialogue focused on media and populism was organized at AMI with the participation of journalists and editors from both print and electronic media on June 16. The main objective of this media dialogue 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. The lecturer 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, the lecturer addressed with participants the role of charismatic leaders in populism movements, bringing specific historical figures. More specifically, the participants and lecturer discussed the impact of populism on democracy and society, focusing on modern examples of both East and West Europe. Lecturer for this seminar was Piro Misha, Director of Institute of Dialogue and Communication. The media dialogue was organized by AMI and supported by Network Media Program.

 “THE ELEMENTS OF JOURNALISM” PUBLISHED

“The elements of journalism: what journalists should know and what the public should expect” is the latest publication of Albanian Media Institute. This book, by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, delineates the core principles shared by journalists across media, even across cultures. These principles flow from the essential function news plays in people's lives. According to the authors, in the new century, one of the most profound questions for democratic society is whether an independent press survives. They claim that the answer will depend on whether journalists have the clarity and conviction to articulate what an independent press means, and whether, the citizens care. This book is intended as a first step in helping journalists articulate those values and helping citizens create a demand for a journalism connected to the principles that spawned the free press in the first place. Some of the key issues the book addresses include the purpose of journalism, truth as the core principle, journalism of verification, watchdog role, journalism as a public forum, engagement and relevance, making the news comprehensive and proportional, the responsibility to conscience, etc. This book was published by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of U.S. Embassy.

TRAINING COURSE ON GENDER REPORTING

A training course on gender reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 15-19, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to improve reporting in the media in order to also include the gender perspective. Although this dimension has been introduced in the media, what is lacking is an in-depth and professional analysis of the situation of females in its complexity. In order to fill this gap, the course addressed topics such as legislation on gender equality, including Family Code and other relevant laws. Specific attention was paid to female participation in politics, since there were amendments in the 2009 elections to Electoral Code in terms of greater gender equality.

Other topics addressed during the course included domestic violence as a widespread phenomenon, ways to report on it, and institutional treatment and further integration of victims. A particular topic during the course was that of gender equality in the media outlets, lobbying of such problems, and opening of new spaces for cooperation with newsrooms. Finally, problems of female health issues as treated in the media outlets were also discussed among lecturers and participants. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the EU.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

A media briefing on latest European parliamentary elections took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 23, with the participation of journalists and editors from mainstream media. Speaker was Fatos Lubonja, well-known publicist and analyst. He focused on the defeat of the left parties in European elections and the triumph of the right parties, and the impact of this outcome on the Albanian context. He analyzed the spirit of European elections as reported in the Albanian media, the way it was covered and the parallelism that was made related to Albania’s own right-wing victory on June 28th elections. Further on, the speaker addressed the main distinctions and positions of right and left wings in Europe, focusing especially on their different positions on emigration. He also analyzed this victory against the backdrop of the Albanian aspirations to EU membership. Another major trend in the discussion on the right-wing victory of European elections was the solution of the economic crisis, at a time when the reforms started are more of a left-wing character. This media briefing was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING ON COURT REPORTING

A training course on court reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 8-12, with the participation of journalists from print and electronic mainstream media. In order to assist their reporting, key speakers from judicial system and relevant NGOs were invited to address these topics: organization of judicial system and all relevant processes and steps, the significant specifics of each court level, including Constitutional Court and the manner of functioning of European Court of Human Rights, etc. Other more specific information was related to access to information rights as prescribed in the law, its manner and degree of implementation, the way it could be used by journalists, and the pending proposals for amending the law. Another topic was related to presumption of innocence as a key principle of the court system and as a key guideline in media reporting on courts. Specific attention was paid to the way that crime and court happenings are reported in the media, identifying the main weaknesses and discussing potential solutions, as well as the different reporting techniques. This project was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

OPEN FORUM ON ENERGY CRISIS

An open forum on current energy crisis and discussion was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 19, with the participation of journalists and editors from print and electronic media. Speakers were Roland Bimo, expert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Zef Preci, economic expert. The discussion aimed to analyse the trends in the development of energy resources and the ways they could be used, as well as discuss the relevant issues in the Albanian case. The lecturers discussed the role of some key countries and organization in the realm of energy resources, such as ex-USSR countries, Agency of International Energy, OECD, OAPEC, OPEC, Persian Gulf countries, etc. The expectations of energy consumption and the respective natural resources needed to meet this consumption were addressed, especially against the background of rapidly developing huge economies, such as India and China. Another topic addressed was the controversial nature of nuclear energy, as well as the environmental ramifications for each kind of energy resource or energy consumed. The current use of renewable energy and the main hindrances and problems for these attempts in the framework of global economic crisis was another topic the lecturers addressed with participants. This open forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Network Media Program.

MONITORING AND DISCUSSION ON HEALTH REPORTING IN ALBANIAN MEDIA

A monitoring report on coverage of health issues in Albanian dailies was carried out by Albanian Media Institute, aiming to identify the main trends, problems and challenges in coverage of issues of social significance in Albanian media. Six dailies were monitored on the way they reported health issues for a one-month period. The monitoring identified the topics addressed, the sources of information used, coverage of health reforms, quality and frequency of information. Specific attention was paid to the coverage of the swine flu epidemic in the press, given the highly important role media has in informing the public on issues related to national health.

The findings of this monitoring report were presented to and discussed with reporters that cover these issues in Albanian media in a roundtable on June 5. The reporters also presented their everyday difficulties and challenges, such as shortage of staff and work overload, difficulties in accessing information sometimes, cooperation with relevant experts and NGOs, etc. This monitoring and discussion was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Open Society Foundation Albania.


AMI NEWSLETTER - July 2009


THIRD SOUTH EAST EUROPE MEDIA FORUM TO BE HELD IN TIRANA

The third South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF), bringing together media CEOs, leading journalists, business professionals, CEOs from companies active in South East and Central Europe, and representatives of marketing and public relations agencies, will be organized in Tirana on November 4-6. The topic of the third SEEMF is Media, Marketing, Business and New Media. Discussions will also include the effects of the world economic crisis on media business in South East and Central Europe.

 Some 250 media professionals are expected to take part. Apart from working sessions, the two-day forum offers a unique opportunity to meet leading professionals for an open discussion about media, marketing, business and new media in South East and Central Europe. The South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) is a joint project by the WAZ Media Group, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).

NO CHANGES IN THE SITUATION OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA IN ALBANIA, 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 fourth year in a row. The report states that Albanian citizens enjoy a variety of print and electronic sources of information representing a range of political and social viewpoints, but the most influential media outlets, however, are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few owners. Financial resources and transparency in the media market continue to be a concern, according to the report. The most controversial issues on media freedom and expression mentioned in the report include the National Council on Radio and Television’s fine on a TV station known for its criticism of the government and Tema newspaper’s blocking of printing press by a government order. The report also points out that investigative journalism is slowly developing.

ALBANIAN JOURNALIST WINS THE CEI SEEMO AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING MERITS IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

Albanian journalist Besar Likmeta is the winner of the Central European Initiative and South East Europe Media Organisation Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism. The Jury examined a total of 26 nominations from 12 CEI Member States. The personal risks taken while performing the duty, the quality of reporting as well as the impact on society of the message conveyed were the main criteria taken into account by the Jury. It was unanimously decided that the Award should go to Besar Likmeta, young investigative journalist from Albania. With this selection, the Jury intended to promote the good investigative journalism carried out by a very young journalist and, more in general, to convey a signal of support to the development of investigative journalism in Albania, which is particularly significant for this country.

Besar Likmeta will receive the Award of 5.000 EUR, offered by the CEI Executive Secretariat. He has worked as a features editor for the Tirana Times, a world news editor for the 24 hour news channel, TV Ora news, and lately as BIRN Albania editor.

TRAINING COURSE ON INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

A training course on investigative journalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on July 27-31, with the participation of 15 journalists from print and electronic media. The course was specifically focused on investigating corruption, since this is one of the most widely covered stories in the media. The topics addressed by the trainers were related to the investigative role of the journalist, presenting different methods of gathering information. They also provided a brief history of investigative journalism, bringing practical examples both from Albania and abroad. Further on, the lectures continued with instructions on how to draft and follow an investigative story, including both advantages and risks of this genre of journalism. Part of the lectures involved an introduction to the Law on Access to Information and how it helps investigative journalists, as well as a brief introduction to the code of investigative reporting. Finally, the trainers addressed the topic of computer assisted investigative reporting, safe sources of information, using databases and search engines, etc. This training course is part of an extensive project on professional skills training for journalists, organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.

LOCAL NEWS REPORTING TRAINING

A training course on local news reporting was organized in Korca on July 6-10, with the participation of 15 reporters from both print and electronic media. The main objective of the course was to introduce participants to the main facets in the adoption of a local news angle when reporting for local communities. For this purpose the lecturers addressed several issues, such as the specific traits of local media reporting and the specific features of working for a local media, and competition and survival challenges of local media against a backdrop of globalization. The training followed with specific ideas and discussion on how to identify and address the reality at the local level and respond to community interests in reporting, treatment of sources of information, and writing style for local media. Specific attention was paid to interviewing sources of information, challenges of investigative journalism in a small community, writing of features, civic journalism, and challenges of access to journalism in a small community. In addition, the adoption of new technologies in improving local news reporting, as well as the main traits of managing local media outlets were addressed by the lecturers and participants. The training was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

NEW PUBLICATION ON JOURNALISM

The latest publication on journalism published by Albanian Media Institute is the book “The Global Journalist: News and conscience in a world of conflict,” by Philip Seib. The book addresses the way that international coverage is treated in U.S. news organizations. The author questions the standards of professional responsibility in view of the conventional wisdom that international reporting costs too much and does too little to win and keep an audience, and thus only sensational or government-highlighted incidents are reported. This provocative book argues that not only do U.S. news media have the duty to cover international events that affect the interests of the public and the government, but they also should "shake awake the world's conscience" by bringing more attention to international conflict and suffering--in hopes of spurring humanitarian action or intervention to help those in need. Philip Seib is a professor of Journalism and Public Diplomacy in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. He is also a veteran television and newspaper journalist. The publication in Albanian was carried out by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.

TRAINING COURSE ON ONLINE JOURNALISM

A training course on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 6-10, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to assist Albanian 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 EU.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON ELECTIONS REPORTING

A media briefing on elections reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 3, with the participation of reporters and editors from mainstream media. Albania held parliamentary elections on June 28, while the campaign was widely covered in the Albanian media, especially electronic media, with broadcasting time that exceeded significantly coverage of previous elections in the media. Lecturer in this media briefing was Lutfi Dervishi, well-known analyst and media expert. The discussion evolved around the quality of coverage of elections in the media, making the distinction between electronic and print media, since electronic media is bound by legal obligations in its coverage of electoral campaign. The reports of monitoring boards on the way the electronic media covered the campaign were also mentioned and discussed by the participants. The trainer questioned and discussed with participants the strict balance in coverage time imposed by electoral law on electronic media, and the impact it has on media coverage. Another major issue of debate for these elections was also the practice of media outlets playing the tapes that parties sent them, without being involved in strong, continuous, and public mission-oriented reporting. Politicization of media outlets, especially in election times, was another topic discussed by the participants. In addition, the significant shift of electoral campaigns from the squares to the TV screens was discussed, along with the responsibilities that it brings along for the media. Specific attention was paid to live reporting on the Election Day and the days that immediately followed about counting of votes. This media briefing was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Network Media Program.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING ON SELF-REGULATION AT KORRIERI NEWSROOM

An in-house training session on ethical issues and implementation of Code of Ethics was organized in the newsroom of daily newspaper Korrieri. The training session took place on July 21-23, 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 main discussion evolved around the challenges of implementing the Code of Ethics against a background of fierce competition with many other daily newspapers, while having a small newspaper staff, with modest salaries. In principle, the newsroom agreed on the need to have a code, but they had doubts on the potential ways to implement it in practice. The participants also discussed in detail the ethical dilemmas in their everyday profession, especially focusing on ways to report on police statements or on serious accidents or crimes. Presumption of innocence as a key principle to observe when reporting on these issues was emphasized throughout the discussions. In the end, both journalists and the editors agreed on the idea of drafting a list with essential elements of the code of ethics and of posting this list in the newsroom. Afterwards, the journalists’ discussion followed with the idea of a potential mechanism that would oversee the code of ethics’ implementation. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Swedish Helsinki Committee.

OPEN FORUM ON MEDIA AND GLOBALIZATION

An open forum on globalization was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 22, with the participation of editors and journalists from the main media outlets. Speaker was Artan Fuga, a well-known social scientist. The main aim of the forum was to discuss how globalization has changed the working model of the media and its reporting and how it is expected to further affect reporting for the public. The lecturer discussed this topic by illustrating it with a research carried out in 27 EU member countries, which questioned journalists in these countries on different issues related to globalization and EU developments and how they affect their work in the media. Some of the aspects addressed in the research and in the discussion was the journalists’ understanding and relations with globalization, EU enlargement, global culture vis-à-vis national culture, relation with emigration issues and how it is reported in the media, etc. Specific attention was paid to the notion of EU media, how has EU enlargement and globalization affected news production and reporting, and the relation between global and local. This open forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING

A training course on human rights took place at the Albanian Media Institute on July 13-17, with the participation of 15 journalists 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 EU.

MEDIA BRIEFING ON EURO-SCEPTICISM

A media briefing on Euro-scepticism was organized on July 24 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of editors, journalists, and civil society representatives. Speaker was Blendi Kajsiu, analyst and publicist. The lecture and discussion evolved around explaining the thesis of Euro-scepticism, focusing on the assumptions that EU integration does not necessarily lead to more democracy and to a greater economic development. Specific attention was paid to Albanian case, where Euro-scepticism is almost inexistent, discussing thesis such as EU legislation cannot improve Albanian reality, the incongruence between EU priorities and local Albanian priorities, the neo-liberal development model upheld by EU, WMF, and WB does not lead to development, the neo-colonial mentality in EU, intertwining politics and economics, etc. Specific examples and reports were cited when discussing these arguments and thesis with the participants. Finally, the discussion evolved around the pressing issues of how Albanian integration will take place, in what ways Albania will be integrated in global economy, and how will Albania develop. This media briefing was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Network Media Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON BUSINESS REPORTING

A training course on business reporting was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 20-24, with the participation of 15 economic reporters from print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to provide journalists with the main tools to report in a public-friendly manner, as well as introduce them to the main concepts and debates in the national economic scene in the country. Some of the topics addressed during the course by the lecturers included the global financial crisis, its impact on global and national economy, and forecast on its progress, the introduction to the Albanian banking system, its main strengths and weaknesses, the role of the Central Bank as the regulator, etc. Other topics included the social responsibility of businesses and the potential models that could be implemented in this regard, the problems of economic sustainable development in the country, and ways of reporting accurately and understandably on poverty. Finally, the journalists discussed with the trainers ways of conveying this information to the public in an informing and easy-to-understand manner. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.

MEDIA DIALOGUE ON ETHICS OF PHOTOJOURNALISM IN THE DIGITAL AGE

A media dialogue focused on the ethics of photojournalism in the digital age was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 17, with the participation of editors and journalists from the main media outlets. Speaker was Albes Fusha, photojournalism expert and professor at the faculty of journalism. The dialogue session focused on issues such as where to draw the line on photo re-touching and manipulation in the era of rapid technological change and how does this affect photojournalism and reporting in general. The lecturer briefly discussed history of photography since its invention and its notion of “truth,” bringing examples of early manipulations with photos. Given the rapid technological developments, which provide immense possibilities of altering the reality as presented in images, and the relative accessibility of this technology to the wide public, new ethical dilemmas are posed to the traditional and new media. These dilemmas were discussed by the trainer and participants, illustrating with the most notorious examples of photo re-touching and image altering in the recent media coverage. In addition, the discussion evolved around the need for established media to preserve ethics in photojournalism, especially on hard news, against a background of increasing civil journalism, blogging, and online journalism. This dialogue was organized by the Albanian Media Institute with the support of the Network Media Program.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON CORRUPTION AND JOURNALISM EDUCATION

A roundtable discussion was organized on July 30 with the participation of journalists and editors from the mainstream media outlets. The main aim of the roundtable was to present the findings of two monitoring reports and discuss them with the participants. The first monitoring report was a one-month monitoring of main daily newspapers on the way they covered corruption, the topics presented, ethical issues involved, accuracy of reporting, and main trends in reporting on this topic. The participants brought their own examples when working on this topic in their media outlet, focusing on the existing challenges to investigative journalism within and outside the newsroom, the need of government institutions to open up to the media and the public, and the need for more professional training in this and other topics.

The second monitoring consisted in collecting data and identifying the main trends, problems, and suggestions in the area of education of journalists in the main daily newspapers. Since a great number of working journalists have not majored in journalism, the editors and journalists pointed out the need for more professional, hands-on training in order to improve the quality of Albanian media. In addition, the participants identified the challenges in more professional training, such as time constraints due to shortage of staff in the media outlets, mobility of journalists that prevents profiling their work, as well as relatively low interest from the media management in offering training for their work. These monitoring reports and the roundtable were organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the EU.

EUROPEAN YOUNG JOURNALIST AWARD

The Albanian winner of the European Young Journalist Award is Thimi Samarxhiu, with his essay “The risks of joining European family,” addressing the topic of Albania’s membership into EU. The group of winners of this award from all participating countries will travel to Berlin in end of August, where they will meet with representatives of politics, media, academics, and civil society representatives, with the aim of discussing different issues related to the European Union enlargement. The call for competition resulted in about 600 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 2009


OSCE/ODIHR REPORT ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS

From 14 May to 28 June, the OSCE/ODIHR EOM conducted quantitative and qualitative monitoring of the campaign-related coverage in the prime-time broadcasts of five television channels and four daily newspapers. The results indicate that in the two weeks before the start of the official campaign the monitored broadcasters in their prime-time news and current affairs programs provided unbalanced and partial coverage of the two main political parties. The same monitoring during the official campaign shows more balance in the quantitative coverage of the two main parties than before the official campaign period, although the bias notes did not disappear. The report notes that the monitored broadcasters failed to comply with their obligation, set by the Electoral Code, to balance the coverage of the two “large” parties and to support a level playing field in regard to the coverage of the “smaller” parliamentary parties and non-parliamentary parties.

In addition to the bias shown by the monitored broadcasters in both quantitative and qualitative terms, a significant lack of editorial independence was noted, according to the same report. Journalists employed by all monitored broadcasters informed the OSCE/ODIHR that campaign coverage is largely reduced to broadcasting footage and commentary produced and provided by political parties themselves. Such control over editorial policies by political parties, at times disguised as the freedom and right of the program director to choose whom to invite to a broadcaster’s programs, resulted in the absence of voices and opinions which could have been considered critical or inconvenient to a given media outlet’s political allegiance, the report concludes.

In addition, the report notes the lack of definition in the Electoral Code on whether Government activities are campaign-related or not, leaving this matter to Media Monitoring Board (MMB) members. This vagueness on the law led to a two separate reports on media coverage of the campaign, and in two different percentages of allotted time to the two main sides, depending on the nomination of the Board member. Disparate statements in the MMB reports showed a lack of independence by its members from party interests. The MMB in its reports covering the period up to 24 June stated that a significant number of broadcasters failed to provide the “smaller” parties with the amount of airtime they were entitled to, OSCE/ODIHR report states.

SEMINAR ON EUROPE AND RUSSIA’S POSITIONS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

A seminar titled ”Europa and Russia: between the Balkans and Caucasus,” was organized at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of journalists and editors from the main media outlets in the capital. Distinguished speakers were Kastriot Islami, ex-Minister of Foreign Affais and Council of Europe Rapporteur on the conflict in Georgia, and Shaban Murati, Balkan affairs expert and director of the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The speakers presented a brief analysis of current scene in the international arena after the Cold War, stressing the unipolar nature of the situation, with USA having the lead for the moment, while Russia and China can provide a multipolar character of international relations in the future. The speakers analyzed the political situation after the end of the Cold War and the new position assumed by Russia after the NATO potential expansion to Ukraine, as well as the intervention in Georgia. The seminar also addressed the EU stance vis-a-vis Russia, emphasizing that there is no unified position on this matter, given the different interests EU members have on Russia, as well as the dependence on Russian gas for energy. Russia’s role in the Balkans was also analyzed by the speakers, in terms of the war on Bosnia, the Kosovo independence, Serbia as a zone of influence, etc. Politics on energy and relations of Balkan countries with Russia from this angle was another topic discussed during the seminar. This seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

JOURNALISTS’ UNION ISSUES STATEMENT ON DIFFICULT SITUATION OF JOURNALISTS

In a press conference organized on August 14, the Albanian Journalists’ Union expressed its concern on the economic and social situation of journalists in the country, stating that 60% of the media outlets have again shown incorrectness in paying the journalists’ wages in the last six months. The Union stated that out of 24 daily newspapers, 16 of them regularly fail to respect the due dates of journalists’ salaries, while the contributions to social security bodies are not made. The statement also notes that 25% of working reporters are journalism students, while the newsrooms have no regular documentation on employees. Taking advantage of the change of the government, the Union called on the latter, on the bodies that supervise labour relations in the country, and on international organizations to assist the community of journalists on this matter.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING AT TIRANA OBSERVER NEWSROOM

The in-house training at Tirana Observer newsroom was organized on September 2-4, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were 10 reporters and editors of the newsroom. After introducing the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists, the trainer focused the discussion on the reasons of the absence of implementation of this Code in the newsroom, discussed against the backdrop of daily experience on the job and the ethical issues and challenges that print media faces in its battle of competition against television and Internet.

The three main reasons for lack of implementation of the Code, identified by the training course were the following: tradition, strong competition in print media, level of salaries and shortage of staff in the newsrooms. The participants discussed specific cases of ethical dilemmas in this regard, having in mind the direct relationship between ethics and professionalism level. The training also focused on the so-called grey areas of ethics, such as sources of information, privacy matters, identity of journalist, usage of hidden cameras, etc. A specific trends discussed during this training was the matter of public interest issues, which often are transformed into issues of interest to the public. The training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.

TRAINING COURSE ON ONLINE JOURNALISM

A training course on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 14-18, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to introduce Albanian journalists to the main principles and skills of online journalism. In this context, the main topics addressed during the course included the main traits of online journalism, its definitions and priorities, a discussion of the news websites and their classification, while peculiar attention was paid to the characteristics of news written for online media. The lecturers focused on the sources of information when reporting for an online media, the need for accuray, as well as the ethical aspect involved in this kind of medium. Participants focused extensively on acquiring and practicing the basic skills needed for writing and editing in online journalism. The course is part of a project implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the EU.

PUBLICATION ON NEW MEDIA AND GLOBALIZATION

”Media in the era of Internet and globalization” is the latest title published by Albanian Media Institute. This book is a collection of articles and essays focusing on the way technology and current global trends are changing the profession of journalism. The book is not limited to journalism, but also examines the changing trends in perceiving the world, in personal interactions, or in potential for democracy. Some of the topics explored by the articles include the debate on printed press vs. new media, the relation between freedom of expression, democracy, and online media and e-government, the Google revolution and its impact on books and research, etc. Other articles posed more focused questions and thesis on the ways that the new technological inventions are changing the profession of journalism and the role of the reporter as such, including civic journalism. This book was published by Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.

SEMINAR ON EU ENLARGEMENT

“EU Enlargement: Challenges for Albania and the Balkans” was the topic of the seminar organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 11, with the participation of journalists and editors. Speakers were Albert Rakipi, Director of the Albanian Institute for International Studies and Ilda Zhulali, Director of the Directorate of European integration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main aim of the seminar was to discuss with journalists the situation and main problems and trends in EU integration for Albania, but not only. In this context, some of the topics addressed included the fulfilment of the political and economic criteria, as well as European standards, particularly harmonization of legislation with Acqui communitaire and the ability to fulfil participation criteria regarding politics, economics, and single currency. Participants became familiar with the different agreements that have been signed and are being negotiated by Albanian government in this regard, as well as the next expected steps. This process was also addressed in comparison with other countries of the region, focusing on the peculiarity of each country. Specific attention was also paid to Enlargement fatigue among EU members and citizens and the fatigue of Balkan countries on failure to become EU members. This seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS HELD IN TIRANA

The fourth edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival is organized in Tirana on September 29- October 3 at the Marubi Film and Multimedia School. The main objective of this festival is to raise awareness on human rights and special needs persons through projection of brief documentaries, films, or other artistic works. During the festival, 37 films are 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 fifth day of the festival is devoted entirely to documentaries and movies related to freedom of expression. 

CONFERENCE ON SPANISH-ALBANIAN PARTNERSHIP

The conference titled “Spain-Albania: A compared approach for a strategic partnership” took place on September 25th in Tirana, with the participation of policymakers, civil society, and media. Given the imminent Spanish presidency of the EU, the main aim of this conference was to draw up the main partnership points between the two countries in this regard. The discussion on the conference focused on a compared approach to Albania’s and Spain’s democratic reform processes, such as state building, evolution of civil society, and economic development. The speakers also provided analysis and proposals for the next Spanish EU presidency and the new Albanian government term. Speakers in the conference included Manuel Montobbio, Ambassador of Spain in Albania, Majlinda Bregu, Minister of European Integration, Rexhep Meidani, former President of Albania, Jordi Vaquer, Director of Barcelona Center for International Studies (CIDOB), Piro Misha, Director of Institute of Dialogue and Communication, Antonio Gutiérrez Vegara, Member of Spanish Parliament, Xavier Vidal Folch, Journalist, El País, Alicia Cebada, Director, Crisis Management and Peace building Programme at Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax), Remzi Lani, Director of Albanian Media Institute, and Albert Rakipi, Director of Albanian Institute of International Studies. The conference was organized by Barcelona Center for International Studies, Albanian Media Institute, Institute of Dialogue and Communication, and Albanian Institute of International Studies.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING AT RTV KORCA

The in-house training at RTV Korca was organized on September 23-25, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were 6 reporters and editors of the newsroom. After introducing the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists, the trainer focused the discussion on the reasons of the absence of implementation of this Code in the newsroom, discussed against the backdrop of daily experience on the job and the ethical issues and challenges that local media face in competition with national media outlets.

Given the small size of the local television, which is a regional branch of the public broadcaster, the debate on ethical self-regulation was modified to suit the situation and workload that journalists had to face. In spite of the shortage of staff, the newsroom agreed ont he need to establish and respect some basic rules in reporting. The trainer discussed and analyzed with the newsroom the news bulletin, emphasizing the importance of separating facts from opinion, the division between advertisement and editorial content and the need to identify advertising. Special attention was paid to balanced and accurate reporting, as well as to the presentation of all views on a given matter. The discussion also focused on the relation of journalists to sources of information, especially in a small city, where these relations are closer and gain specific prominence in the way they are treated The training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders


AMI NEWSLETTER - October 2009


EU REPORT ADDRESSES THE MEDIA SECTOR PROGRESS

The EU Commission made public on October the annual Progress Report for Albania. The report stated that regarding freedom of expression, investigative journalism has contributed to reporting of corrupt practices. However, some pressure was applied by the executive, mostly financially, but also through selective action against media operators. Some media outlets were evicted from their premises owned by the government. According to the report, business and political interests continue to influence the independent media, in terms of editorial independence and professional capacities.

The report also addressed the coverage of election, stating that media coverage of the electoral campaign was often biased, both in public and commercial stations. According to the report, even though the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRT) has advanced preparations for the national strategy for TV digitalization, amendments to the law on electronic broadcasting remain to be adopted and brought in line with international standards. In addition, further reform is needed in relation to the Criminal and Civil Codes, since amendments to decriminalize libel and defamation and the implementation of the law on access to information are pending.

In addition, the report stated that the NCRT has favored the media linked to the government, referring to a fine imposed by the NCRT on a private TV broadcaster prompted the reaction of the People’s Advocate. On the other hand, according to the report the reform of the public broadcaster has stalled and the government’s continuing influence impacted negatively on the independence of the institution. The report recommends that more efforts are needed to improve the overall climate for the media, to finalize the digitalization strategy and to adopt key legislation on broadcasting, decriminalization of defamation, public information and transparency of media ownership.

REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP TRENDS

The regional conference “Changes on media ownership trends and their influence on media independence and pluralism of information conference” was organized on October 23-24, 2009, in Tirana. The main aim of the conference was to identify and discuss the changes in the trends of media ownership in the region and their ramifications for media independence and pluralism. Participants from the region came from Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. They included media experts, members of regulatory authorities, academics, media owners, editors, journalists, and NGO representatives. The conference focused on country presentation and discussions regarding the situation of media ownership and its impact on media quality in each country.

The main topics addressed were identification and transparency of media owners, research facilities on media market and media outlet shares, economic sustainability of media outlets, transparency of funding, advertising market transparency, government or state ads and their influence on media content and independence, the different privatization schemes employed in each country regarding media, media diversity in the region, the role of regulatory mechanisms and framework on securing transparency of media funding, the role of public broadcasters vis-à-vis commercial media in securing public interest content, editorial standards as related to journalists’ work conditions, etc. Special attention was paid to digitalization, discussing the way this would change the landscape of media outlets in these countries, the ownership schemes, and the impact on the public. The conference was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

PRESS FREEDOM IN ALBANIA WORSENS ACCORDING TO REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

According to Reporters without Borders, which has recently published the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2009, Albania’s ranking dropped from 79th position into 88th. According to the report, investigative journalism remains embryonic and struggles to find space in a press belonging either to industrial groups determined to protect their spheres of influence or by political parties that too often confuse news with propaganda. The report states that journalists’ financial and social instability, linked to the absence of a legal framework for the exercise of the profession, leaves reporters at the mercy of arbitrary decisions and furthers corruption. The report also notes that public media is under government control and that even though privately-owned media do have more freedom, they are not protected from a number of forms of pressure, leading to self-censorship.

ROUNDTABLE ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF EDUCATION

A roundtable on media coverage of education was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 6, with the participation of editors and journalists covering education and social issues. The participants became familiar with the main findings of a one-month monitoring of main daily newspapers on the issue of education. The main findings of the monitoring was the increased importance assigned to covering education in terms of space, the geographic diversity of news, the space allotted by some newspapers only to high school students and their problems, etc. Other trends identified and discussed included the lack of analysis on a problem of such great importance as education, the almost exclusive usage of official sources on education, and the absence of analysis on the private education options and quality in the country.

The participants then became familiar with the main problems, developments, and trends in the area of education today, in a discussion with Bardhyl Musai, director of the Center for Democratic Education. The discussion focused on issues such as the need to change the teacher-students relations, the problems with the textbooks, the management of schools, the teachers’ qualification, public vs. private education, etc. This roundtable was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Soros Foundation.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING AT ALBANIAN TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY

The in-house training at Albanian Telegraphic Agency newsroom was organized on October 21-23, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were 16 reporters and editors of the newsroom. After introducing the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists, the trainer focused the discussion on the reasons of the absence of implementation of this Code in the newsroom, discussed against the backdrop of daily experience on the job and the ethical issues and challenges that print media faces in its battle of competition against television and Internet.

The three main reasons for lack of implementation of the Code, identified by the training course were the following: tradition, strong competition in print media, level of salaries and shortage of staff in the newsrooms. The participants discussed specific cases of ethical dilemmas in this regard, having in mind the direct relationship between ethics and professionalism level. The training also focused on the so-called grey areas of ethics, such as sources of information, privacy matters, identity of journalist, usage of hidden cameras, etc. A specific trends discussed during this training was the matter of public interest issues, which often are transformed into issues of interest to the public. The training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.

COURSE ON DEVELOPMENT ISSUES FOR UN PRESS CLUB

A training course on development issues was organized on October 21-23 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of reporters covering social issues in the press, who will act as the UN Press Club. The main aim of this club and training on this matter is to establish a group of journalists able and interested in improving coverage of social issues for the public. The training started by a press briefing on ONE UN, its duties, achievements, projects, and challenges. The participants then became acquainted with main trends in reporting on corruption, poverty, and environment. Some of the topics addressed during the course included the importance of investigative journalism in covering corruption, introduction to main surveys, polls, and research on corruption, the methods and interpretations used and how they should be reported to the public, the main challenges to poverty reduction and current policies, the main statistics, resources and surveys used in measuring aspects of poverty and how to report on them, and main problems with environmental issues in Albania, the environmental truth, its impact on society and country development, and manners of investigating official information on environment in Albania. The training was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of One UN.

NEW PUBLICATION ON MEDIA RESEARCH

The latest publication in the area of journalism is the Albanian edition of “Canonic texts in media research: Are there any? Should there be? What about these?,” edited by Katz, Peters, Liebes, and Orloff. There is now considerable volume of literature produced in the field of media studies. The contributors to this volume offer their own alternatives to what works or which authors can be considered as canons in the area of media research. The book is made of thirteen essays and the book presents a critical reading of the classics in media research and conveys the ongoing debates on this matter. The texts are summarized, analyzed and re-examined for their contemporary relevance. They are grouped together in different schools (Chicago, Columbia, Frankfurt, Toronto, British Cultural Studies) to highlight the different perspectives that characterize the field. The publication was carried out by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Democracy Commission Program.

TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING GENDER AND ETHICAL MEDIA ASPECTS

A training course on main gender issues and ethical aspects of the media was organized in Elbasan on October 29-30, with the participation of local journalists. The main aim of the course was to raise awareness on the main issues related to gender and the ways media should report on them, as well as to discuss the main ethical aspects to be considered in media reporting. The lecturer discussed with the participants aspects such as the definition of gender equality, the Albanian legal framework on gender equality, the Electoral Code on gender aspects, the law on gender equality, the law on domestic violence, etc. Specific attention was paid to gender representation in the media at all levels, as well as to the gender stereotypes and their role in the media coverage.

With regard to ethical aspects of media coverage, the lecturer introduced the participants to the basic professional and ethical standards in reporting, discussing with them the main factors that affect implementation of ethics in the newsroom. Professional standards such as accuracy, objectivity, verification of facts, language used, and accountability, were used and discussed in examples from everyday work of journalists. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of One UN.

MEETING ON PHOTOJOURNALISM

Jordi Socias, a well-known Spanish photographer, held a meeting with Albanian photojournalists and reporters of Albanian press on October 8 in Tirana. The meeting focused on the main aspects of working as a photojournalist, the ways of expression this tool provides compared to text, ethical aspects involved, ways to approach the subjects, etc. Socias answered also questions of participants on the profession and on the way it has changed over the years. This meeting was organized by Albanian Media Institute and the Spanish Embassy in Tirana. An exhibition with the main work of Socias was also opened to the public on the National Arts Gallery.

TRAINING COURSE ON COMPUTER ASSISTED JOURNALISM

A training course on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 12-16, with the participation of 15 journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to introduce Albanian journalists to the main principles and skills of online journalism. In this context, the main topics addressed during the course included the main traits of online journalism, its definitions and priorities, a discussion of the news websites and their classification, while peculiar attention was paid to the characteristics of news written for online media. The lecturers focused on the sources of information when reporting for an online media, the need for accuracy, as well as the ethical aspect involved in this kind of medium. Participants focused extensively on acquiring and practicing the basic skills needed for writing and editing in online journalism. The course is part of a project implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the EU.

SEMINAR ON 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

A seminar in the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was organized on October 1 in Tirana. The event started with the projection of a Deutsche Welle documentary on this historical event. Fabian Schmidt, South East Europe analyst of Deutsche Welle, shared with the audience his reflections on the fall of the Wall. Patrick Moore, South East Europe analyst, spoke on the role of foreign media in the toppling of the Communist system, while Kleart Duraj, professor at University of Tirana, focused on the way the fall of the Berlin Wall was covered in Albanian media. Finally, Fatos Lubonja, well-known analyst, focused on the role that the fall of the Berlin Wall had on Albanian society. This event was organized by Hans Seidel Stiftung and CEAPAL.

SEMINAR ON TREATY OF LISBON

A seminar on the Treaty of Lisbon and its ramifications was organized at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of journalists and editors from the main media outlets in the capital. Distinguished speakers were Ditmir Bushati, EU expert, and Ilir Aliaj, director of the Institute for Strengthening and Democratization of Institutions. The speakers briefed the participants on the significance of Lisbon Treaty and its implications for member EU states and future of the EU. Some of the topics addressed during the seminar included the strengthened role for the European Parliament, the increase of co-decision procedure in policy-making, greater opportunities for national parliaments to be involved in the European Parliament, the changes in the voting procedure in decision-making, introduction of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into European primary law, the introduction of a single legal personality for the European Union and its ramifications for the future of EU foreign policy, etc. This seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

DEUTSCHE WELLE AKADEMIE STARTS TRAINING PROJECT FOR ALBANIAN MEDIA OUTLETS

Deutsche Welle Akademie announced on October 26th the start of a major training project for small and medium-sized Albanian media outlets, with the support of European Union and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation. The project is called “Independent Professional Media: the Road to Europe, and consists of 12 training modules that targets two groups: management training for media owners, managers, and directors, and professional journalism training for political reporters, editors, and correspondents. The main aim of the project is to assist the media for achieving better commercialization and economic sustainability, as well as increase editorial independence. The project will last 18 months. DW Akademie has a long tradition of training on different topics in Albania.

SEMINAR ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF GENDER PERSPECTIVE

A seminar on the coverage of social problems in the media from the gender perspective was organized in Tirana on October 5. Participants included journalists, civil society representatives, and human rights activists. The main topics referred to by the main speakers included the role of women in decision-making and policy-making, employment policies regarding gender, discrimination at work, etc. Specific attention was paid to the language used in the media regarding this problem, identifying the main trends and problems. The seminar was organized by the Gender Alliance for Development Center, with the support of Open Society Foundation, Albania.

LOCAL NEWSPAPER CELEBRATES 15TH ANNIVERSARY

“Nositi,” a weekly newspaper, published in Pogradec, a city in Southeastern Albania, celebrated its 15th anniversary on October 17. In this occasion, the newspaper organized an open–day event at the newsroom and printing house of the publishing house that publishes the newspaper. The publishing house also awarded prizes for best poetry and other works.


AMI NEWSLETTER - November 2009


THE THIRD FORUM OF SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE MEDIA HELD IN TIRANA

The third South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF), bringing together media CEOs, leading journalists, business professionals, CEOs from companies active in South East and Central Europe, and representatives of marketing and public relations agencies, was organized in Tirana on November 4-5. The topic of the third SEEMF was Media, Marketing, Business and New Media. About 250 media professionals took part in this Forum. Mr. Bamir Topi, President of Albania, delivered the opening speech and held a Q&A with present journalists.

Some of the topics addressed during the SEEMF included the digitalization of TV and the future of public broadcasting, relations between marketing, public relations, and media today, exploring the relationship between press, advertising and public relations, media business and how it has been affected by the international economic crisis, economic independence as a platform for press freedom, and new media and web newsrooms. The speakers brought their own experience from different positions, countries, and viewpoints, enabling a wide discussion on these important topics that SEE media faces at the moment. The South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) was a joint event by the WAZ Media Group, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).

DIRECTOR OF DAILY “TEMA” ASSAILED

Mero Baze, director of the daily newspaper “Tema” and host of the prime-time television show “Faktor Plus,” was assailed at a bar on November 2, in Tirana. Baze lost consciousness after the attack and was hospitalized overnight, according to press reports. The journalist was assailed by Rezart Taci, a businessman frequently criticized by Baze in his reports and analysis, and his escorts. In a statement to local news outlets, Taci said he was present during the attack, but was not involved. Two of the bodyguards were immediately arrested, while Taci consigned himself to the police after a few days. He was released from prison two weeks later, after the Court of Appeals ruled his detention was not a necessary measure.

ATTACK ON DIRECTOR OF DAILY NEWSPAPER CONDEMNED BY POLITICIANS

The attack suffered by Mero Baze, director of daily newspaper “Tema”, was condemned by the highest politicians in the country. In a statement made the day after the assault, the President of the Republic, Prof. Dr. Bamir Topi, condemned the violence against Mero Baze and demanded from all state bodies to shed light on this event and bring the perpetrators to justice. The President also called on all political actors in Albania to view this act as a problematic one and to engage themselves in guaranteeing media freedom and independence in the country. Prime Minister Sali Berisha also issued a statement which condemned the attack and called on police to bring the assailants to justice. The act was also condemned by the opposition leader and other high-rank politicians. In a conference on informality and media freedom, which took place on November 6, US ambassador John L. Withers also condemned the attack on Mero Baze, stating this was an unacceptable event and that violence against freedom of speech is unjustifiable in a democracy.

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS WIDELY CONDEMN THE ATTACK ON BAZE

The attack on Mero Baze was condemned by many local, national and international organizations concerned with press freedom and professional associations. Journalists and civil society representatives gathered in front of the government building on November 4 and protested against the violence against their colleague. Statements of protest and condemnation against the assault were issued by various organizations, such as the Union of Albanian journalists, the League of Professional Journalists and the Association of Professional Journalists, the League of Economic Journalists, the different branches of the Union of Albanian Journalists, Albanian Helsinki Committee, etc. A group of 135 Albanian journalists and editors also issued a petition against this phenomenon and other problems related to media freedom, showing their outrage at the police failure to arrest the perpetrators of the crime against Mero Baze, as well as their concern for the climate of media freedom in the country.

International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders were among the international organizations that condemned the assail on Baze. CPJ stated that the authorities need to send a clear signal that violence against reporters will not be tolerated. “Such use of violence is intolerable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hail the universal condemnation this attack has received from the political class and the rapid police response, which suggests there is a will to put an end to impunity.”

NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SELF-REGULATION

A conference on self-regulation and media ethics was organized in Tirana on November 24, with the participation of media editors, journalists, and academics. Key speakers were Robert Pinker, member of the Press Complaints Commission, UK, and Ognian Zlatev, director of Media Development Center, Sofia. The main aim of the conference was to become familiar with media self-regulation efforts in other states of South East Europe, the main factors that lead to a successful self-regulation process, as well as to the Western European experience in this regard. Attempts of self-regulation in Albanian context were also discussed, along with the main obstacles that need to be overcome in order for this process to be successful.

Other 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 paid specific attention to the emerging problems of media ethics in the wake of rapid technological development and continuous change in the profession of reporters. This conference was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO and OSCE.

SEMINAR ON GLOBAL WARMING

A seminar focused on global warming was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on November 23, with the participation of journalists and editors from mainstream media. The main objective of the seminar was to inform the participants on the main trends of climate change and especially global warming. The causes of global warming, the public debate on it, the controversial expert opinions and the preventive measures were the main topics discussed during this seminar. Lecturers were Adrian Civici and Adri Nurellari from European University of Tirana. More specifically the lecturers discussed with the participants the main aspects related to global warming and climate change, such as legal drawbacks and pitfalls that give priority to property rights rather than environment, market policies that value profit over environmental sustainability, excessive exploitation of natural resources, failure to clean up the damage done, etc. Specific attention was paid to mass concumption or excessive consumption, and what each individual can do to curb the activities that contribute to global warming. Finally, the participants became familiar with the latest trends and research on climate change and global warming, in order to be able to report on this topic with more updated knowledge. This seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

DEBATE ON THE FUTURE OF THE MEDIA IN THE DIGITAL AGE

A debate on the future of the media in the digital age was organized at the European University of Tirana on November 12, with the participation of journalists, editors, and academics, and students. Key speakers were David Hayward, Head of the Journalism Programme at the BBC College of Journalism, and Vaughan Smith, independent video journalist and founder of the Frontline Club. The debate addressed the prospects for survival and adaptability of traditional media in the digital age. In an increasingly converging world, media like the BBC have to compete with the domestic papers including The Guardian, the Telegraph and also internationally with the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as digital news channels including CNN and Sky News.
How are these organisations adapting to this new world? Drawing on recent examples including the Iran and G20 protests David Hayward discussed how social media including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Youtube are also changing the relationship of these news organisations with their readers and audiences. The debate tried to explore the impact that these changes have had on the role of the journalist and examined how the core role and values of journalism can be maintained in this new landscape. This debate was organized by The Frontline Club and the Albanian Media Institute.

TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING GENDER AND ETHICAL MEDIA ASPECTS

A training course on main gender issues and ethical aspects of the media was organized in Shkoder on November 16-17, with the participation of local journalists. The main aim of the course was to raise awareness on the main issues related to gender and the ways media should report on them, as well as to discuss the main ethical aspects to be considered in media reporting. The lecturer discussed with the participants aspects such as the definition of gender equality, the Albanian legal framework on gender equality, the Electoral Code on gender aspects, the law on gender equality, the law on domestic violence, etc. Specific attention was paid to gender representation in the media at all levels, as well as to the gender stereotypes and their role in the media coverage.

With regard to ethical aspects of media coverage, the lecturer introduced the participants to the basic professional and ethical standards in reporting, discussing with them the main factors that affect implementation of ethics in the newsroom. Professional standards such as accuracy, objectivity, verification of facts, language used, and accountability, were used and discussed in examples from everyday work of journalists. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of One UN.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING AT ORA NEWS TV

The in-house training at Ora News TV newsroom was organized on November 24-26, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were 16 reporters and editors of the newsroom. After introducing the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists, the trainer focused the discussion on the reasons of the absence of implementation of this Code in the newsroom, discussed against the backdrop of daily experience on the job and the ethical issues and challenges that print media faces in its battle of competition against television and Internet.

The three main reasons for lack of implementation of the Code, identified by the training course were the following: tradition, strong competition in print media, level of salaries and shortage of staff in the newsrooms. The participants discussed specific cases of ethical dilemmas in this regard, having in mind the direct relationship between ethics and professionalism level. The training also focused on the so-called grey areas of ethics, such as sources of information, privacy matters, identity of journalist, usage of hidden cameras, etc. A specific trend discussed during this training was the matter of public interest issues, which often are transformed into issues of interest to the public. The training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.

NEW BOOK ON POLITICAL JOURNALISM

“Political journalism” is the latest publication by Albanian Media Institute. The book is edited by Raymond Kuhn and Erik Neveu and attempts to analyze the role of the media in shaping public policy debate in the world. Through various essays, articles, and contributions coming from various countries, the book offers a historical summary of the kinds of political journalism. Some of the topics the book explores include the relations between media and public relations representatives, the redefinition of the role of political journalists due to technological changes, etc. the book brings an analysis of the change of political journalists’ mission and the impact this has on democracy in USA and Europe. The publication was carried out by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.

AMI PROMOTES NEW PUBLICATIONS ON MEDIA AND SOCIETY

In view of recent group of new publications by AMI on various topics related to media professionalism and media and society, AMI held talks with journalism students in Tirana public university on November 11 and 12, and with public University of Shkodra journalism students on November 17. The students were introduced to the series of publications produced by AMI in these recent months, with the topics they explored, the main areas they covered, and the way that each of the books could be used or explored by the students, according to their own specific interests. These events were organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the US Embassy.

NEW BOOK ON KOSOVO AFTER INDEPENDENCE IS PROMOTED

“The Albanian question after Kosovo independence” is the latest book by Shaban Murati, a diplomat and well-known analyst. The book constitutes a complex analysis of the Albanian question in the circumstances created after the independence of Kosovo. The book was presented in a promotional event that took place on November 23rd, attended also by Ilir Meta, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The event was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


AMI NEWSLETTER - December 2009


TRAINING COURSE ON GENDER REPORTING AND INTERNET ETHICS

A training course on ethical aspects of gender reporting and new technology and journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 7-9. Participants were journalists and editors from mainstream media, members of the UN Press Club. The first day the lecturer focused on aspects such as the definition of gender equality, the Albanian legal framework on gender equality, the Electoral Code on gender aspects, the law on gender equality, the law on domestic violence, etc. Specific attention was paid to gender representation in the media at all levels, as well as to the gender stereotypes and their role in the media coverage. On the second day, the lecturer addressed the ethical aspects of photography in the media, especially in the era of digital technology, digital manipulation and its cases of acceptability, citizen’s journalism, etc. On the final day, the lecturer tackled different aspects of online journalism, such as accuracy of facts, language used, specifics of blogs and forums when it comes to ethics and content in these sites, etc. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of One UN.

TRAINING COURSES ON REPORTING GENDER AND ETHICAL MEDIA ASPECTS

In the framework of a project aiming to train journalists on reporting on gender and various ethical aspects of reporting, three other training courses were organized in Berat, Lezha, and Fier on December 3-4, 10-11, and 17-18, respectively. Participants were local journalists and editors. The main aim of the courses was to raise awareness on the main issues related to gender and the ways media should report on them, as well as to discuss the main ethical aspects to be considered in media reporting. The lecturer discussed with the participants aspects such as the definition of gender equality, the Albanian legal framework on gender equality, the Electoral Code on gender aspects, the law on gender equality, the law on domestic violence, etc. Specific attention was paid to gender representation in the media at all levels, as well as to the gender stereotypes and their role in the media coverage.

With regard to ethical aspects of media coverage, the lecturer introduced the participants to the basic professional and ethical standards in reporting, discussing with them the main factors that affect implementation of ethics in the newsroom. Professional standards such as accuracy, objectivity, verification of facts, language used, and accountability, were used and discussed in examples from everyday work of journalists. These courses were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of One UN.

SEMINAR ON MEDITERRANEAN POLICIES

A seminar focused on Mediterranian policies and foreign policy in particular was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 18th, with the participation of journalists and editors from mainstream media. Key speakers were Besnik Mustafaj, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and director of the Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, and Elida Petoshati, from the Directorate of Regional Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The speakers introduced the participants to the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean as the framework for regional cooperation between the UN and countries of Eastern and Southern Mediterranean. Apart from the history of this process, started in 1995, the participants became familiar with the interests involved, the supporters and opponents of this initiative within EU, and the transformation of this initiative and process through the years. The lecturers discussed with participants Albania’s role in the Barcelona process, the significance of having the status of “regional partner,” and the financial ramifications and potential benefits in the future. The participants also became familiar with the main existing policies and attitude vis-à-vis Barcelona process from the Albanian side and its impact in the framework of EU integration. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

IN-HOUSE TRAINING AT PLUS 4 TV

The in-house training at Plus 4 TV newsroom in Lushnje was organized on December 3-5, conducted by Lutfi Dervishi, author of the Code of Ethics. Participants were 5 reporters and editors of the newsroom. After introducing the main principles of the Code of Ethics for journalists, the trainer focused the discussion on the main challenges that a small local media faces in a small environment, where journalists know and are known to virtually most citizens.

The main ethical challenges discussed in this context were related to the basics of the profession, such as accurate reporting of facts, and balanced storytelling. Addressing public defamatory statements and coverage of electoral campaign in the context of political pressure from the parties were two other topics discussed during the training. High reliability of sources of information and verification of the material before broadcasting ranked among high priorities in the context of small, local, under-staffed media outlets like Plus 4 TV. The importance of rectifications was also discussed in the newsroom.

Another problematic issue in this context was also the broadcasting of footage provided by police, where persons that have been stopped by the police are labelled as ”criminals,” a problem present in many TV stations. Presumption of innocence and respect for victims and their families in grave cases of violence or misfortune were considered two key principles that reporters have to keep in mind during their work, no matter what the pressure involved. This course marked the completion of an in-house training project with media outlets in the country, supported by Civil Rights Defenders.

LAUNCH OF THE BOOK “IDENTITY: SEARCH FOR BELONGING IN A CHANGING EUROPE”

The book “Identity: search for belonging in a changing Europe” was launched in an event organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 9th. The event gathered editors-in-chief and reporters from the main daily newspapers and electronic media in the country. The occasion marked the completion of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence for 2009, an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and ERSTE Foundation in cooperation with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN. BIRN Albania project manager and editor Besar Likmeta presented the publication and announced the next fellowship project, which is to start in January 2010. This year’s Albanian fellow, Arjan Konomi, and the programme’s alumni Gjergj Erebara, also held a presentation, describing to guests their experience with the programme.

RESOLUTION ON MEDIA ETHICS

The Union of Albanian Journalists organized on December 10th the conference “Ethics threatened by political conflict,” with the participation of editors-in-chief of Albanian media outlets, opinion-makers, analysts, journalists, etc. The conference addressed some of the main problems for ethical journalism in the country, such as political interference and coverage of political vocabulary in Albanian media, the existence and lack of implementation of the Code of Ethics, the role of the editor vis-à-vis aggressiveness and lack of ethics from analysts, etc. At the end, the conference issued a resolution that proposed increasing professional accountability in order to respect ethics, suggesting the consideration of the code of ethics or ethical guidelines in general. The resolution stated that they were willing to support the Union in an initiative to improve media ethics and professionalism and in any self-regulation attempt for the media community. This resolution was signed by all editors-in-chief of print media that participated in the conference.

ROUNDTABLE ON COVERAGE OF POVERTY IN ALBANIAN MEDIA

A roundtable on the coverage of poverty issues in Albanian daily newspapers was organized on December 22, with the participation of reporters and editors covering social issues. The roundtable presented the findings of a monitoring report on poverty issues in six Albanian daily newspapers for a period of one month. The monitoring findings included among others that although there is sensitivity towards poverty in Albanian media, it is not a clear priority. In addition, an in-depth analysis of poverty as the root of other severe social problems is lacking, leading to coverage of news on this phenomenon, but not on the phenomenon itself. These findings were discussed with the reporters that cover these issues, who expressed their own concerns and problems in relation to this issue. In order to have greater knowledge on the situation and main issues to have in mind when reporting on poverty in the country, Eni Plaku and Elira Jorgoni from Institute of Contemporary Studies, discussed with participants issues such as interpreting the surveys and research in this area, making them understandable to the public, focusing on the most significant aspects to cover regarding poverty, etc. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Soros Foundation, Albania.

CONFERENCE ON POLITICAL COMMUNICATION

A conference on political communication in current Albanian society was organized on December 18th, with the participation of representatives of main media outlets, academics, civil society, journalism students, etc. Some of the topics addressed in the course of the conference included Albanian political image in the Balkan context, Albanian media coverage of electoral campaign, political communication in TV, ethics in political communication, etc. Other topics that the lecturers covered in the course of the conference included literature in political communication, usage of Internet in political communication, usage of artistic elements as indicators of real perception of politics, press offices and spokespersons of parties, dynamics in changing trends of political marketing, etc. This conference was organized by the Faculty of Journalism of Tirana University.

UNION OF JOURNALISTS DISTRIBUTES JOURNALISM AWARDS

Union of Albanian journalists distributed awards on journalism contribution on December 23. The career awards were given to Hamit Borici, as one of the most distinguished media academics in the country, and to Agron Cobani, in honour of his rich career in public media. In addition, the Union awarded journalists for reporting on fiscal and economic affairs from different media. The award for print media was given to Telnis Skuqi, ATA Gjirokaster journalist, the award for radio reporting went to Aferdita Selimi in Radio Tirana, while the award for best TV story went to Florian Papadhimitri from TV Koha. 

SESSION ON DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION, EUROPEAN INTEGRATION, AND NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION

In the framework of the series “Transitions in the mirror: A compared approach to Spain’s and Albania’s transition and transformation processes,” a discussion session was organized on December 11th, with the participation of journalists, editors, civil society representatives, academics, etc. Some of the topics discussed by the lecturers on this session included democratic consolidation, European integration, and national transformation, external transition in terms of the construction of a new foreign policy in democracy, and culture and democracy in the aspect of transition. A specific topic was devoted to public opinion and democracy, focusing on the role of the media in democratic transition and consolidation. Key speakers included Esther Barbe, Professor at Autonomous University of Barcelona, Miguel Angel Aguilar, General Secretary of Association of European Journalists, Fatos Lubonja, writer and analyst, and Besnik Mustafaj, former minister of Foreign Affairs. This session was organized by Spanish Embassy in Albania, in cooperation with Albanian Media Institute.


 


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