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Newsletters Archive
AMI Newsletters             2011

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

AMI NEWSLETTER, January 2011


TRAINING COURSE ON CIVIC JOURNALISM

A training course on online journalism was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on January 10-14, with the participation of journalists from both print and electronic Tirana-based media. The main aim of the course was to introduce Albanian journalists to the main principles and skills of civic 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 Open Society Foundation, Albania.

DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTIONS

The first documentary movie was called “Shooting Robert King,” and was projected for journalism students of public University of Tirana, as well as for journalists, on January 17. The documentary explores the complex web of motivations that drive someone to extremes: the insecurities and aspirations, the striving for excellence and acknowledgement and the seemingly conflicting need to be at peace and yet near danger. Over 15 years and three wars - from naivety to cynicism and finally achieving the recognition he sought, this film addresses the two questions that are always asked of those who report wars: Why do you do it? How does it affect you?
The second documentary projected this month was called “With or without Fidel,” and was projected in cooperation with European University of Tirana on January 25. The documentary features Cuba’s leading politicians, intellectuals and dissidents, who debate the future direction of the Island’s revolution. For the first time, the people of Cuba question the values that western democracy holds sacred and the price Cubans have paid for their independence, including the ramifications for freedom of speech. These documentaries were projected by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

OSCE PRESENCE IN ALBANIA URGES RESPECT FOR MEDIA FREEDOM

Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania called for protection of media freedom and respect for the rule of law during investigations on the events of 21 January in Tirana, which claimed the lives of 3 people. This statement followed the requests by a number of investigative bodies for phone records from individuals in relation to 21 January events, including journalists, Ambassador Eugen Wollfarth, said: “These investigations must take into account that free and independent media plays a pivotal role in a democratic and free society. Journalists must be able to work in an atmosphere of confidentiality and trust as a basis for their professional role in contributing to public discourse. All institutions have an obligation to support media freedom allowing the media to fulfil their duty in providing factual and timely information to the public”.

PUBLICATION OF INFO-BROCHURE ON DIGITAL SWITCHOVER

“From analogue to digital” is the title of the info-brochure published by Albanian Media Institute. The main aim of this brochure is to raise awareness among the public on the need to prepare and on the expectations for digital switchover. Although media representatives and other actors discuss this issue and are aware of the process, the public information campaign has yet to start. This brochure is the first step in this regard. As such, it includes information on what is digital TV, its advantages, the expectations the public should have, the practical considerations each household has to make, the costs it entails, etc. The brochure also includes a set of Frequently Asked Questions, as well as a glossary of terms related to digital television.

SEEMO 'APPALLED' BY VIOLENCE AGAINST JOURNALISTS IN ALBANIA

The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) declared it is "appalled" by the large number of attacks on journalists on Jan. 21, 2011, by members of the Albanian National Guard. SEEMO said in a statement the violence that occurred in Tirana on January 21, as Socialist-led anti-government protesters took to the streets of the Albanian capital, contained numerous brutal attacks on journalists who were doing their job. Ened Janina, reporter for the newspaper Shekulli, was allegedly beaten in the middle of the street. He told police he was a journalist and provided evidence by showing identification.
Furthermore, photographer Feliks Bilani allegedly had stones thrown towards his head, reporter Elton Dono's jaw was broken when he was hit on the head allegedly by a member of the National Guard, and a reporter from Ora News was wounded during the demonstration. In his testimony, which has also been given to prosecutors, Fatos Mahmutaj, working for ABC News, gives a detailed account of how an officer from the National Guard, standing in the courtyard of the prime minister's office, opened fire, wounding him and killing two protesters. SEEMO has urged Albanian authorities to make every attempt to protect journalists as they report on conflict and other sensitive issues. SEEMO also asks the high authorities in Albania to deal with the abuse of journalists and to take legal steps against those responsible for attacks on journalists.

MEDIA AND CITIZENS FORUM ON POVERTY REPORTING

A media and citizens forum on the topic of poverty reporting was organized in Korca on January 7. Participants included local media reporters, representatives of local government, and civil society representatives. The speakers discussed the way that media covers poverty in the country, pointing out 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. Other issues discussed included interpretation of the surveys and research in this area, how to make them understandable to the public, focusing on the most significant aspects to cover regarding poverty, etc. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Open Society Foundation, Albania.

TRAINING COURSE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING REPORTING

A training course on reporting of human trafficking victims was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on January 19-21, with the participation of journalists from electronic and print local media. The main aim of this course was to raise awareness among journalists on their mission in accurate reporting of anti-trafficking efforts and victims of human trafficking as an obligation to the public. Some of the main topics discussed by the lecturers in the course were the Albanian government efforts in the war against human beings trafficking, the legal status of victims of trafficking, the current situation of this phenomenon, etc. The lecturers also discussed with participants their own observations for print and electronic media coverage of this issue, while focusing on the main provisions of the Code of Ethics and ethical principles in general that journalists should consider when covering these issues. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy. 


AMI NEWSLETTER, February 2011


MEDIA TALK ON WAR REPORTING

A media talk focused on war reporting, but not only, was organized in Tirana on February 16, with the participation of journalists, editors, civil society activists, and journalism and communication professors. Keynote speaker was Carlotta Gall, reporter of New York Times, currently reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan. She is an experienced reporter of war and conflicts and in her speech she focused on various aspects of reporting war and conflicts, and the current trends of reporting and journalism today. The roundtable debate was moderated by Lutfi Dervishi, well-known journalist and media expert. The discussion focused on the current development of journalism in the world, the way that the profession is being affected by technology, and the expected ramifications for information of the public opinion. This media talk was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

EFJ CONDEMNS PRESS FREEDOM ABUSES AGAINST ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS

On February 2 the European Federation of Journalists expressed its concern about severe threats to press freedom and violent attacks against several journalists in Albania following the protest of 21 January in Tirana. "The situation in Albania makes it impossible for journalists to work freely," said EFJ President Arne König.
On 31 January a Parliamentary Commission set up by the ruling majority demanded access to the phone records of four Albanian journalists accused of being "conspirators" in the violent anti-government protest that took place in Tirana last 21 January, when several journalists were attacked. The ad-hoc Parliamentary Commission asked to see the phone records of Filip Cakulli, the director of the investigative programme "Fiks Fare" on Top-Channel TV; Sokol Balla, the anchor of the popular show "Top-Story" on Top Channel TV; Mero Baze, the publisher of the daily TemA and Andi Bushati, the anchor of a show on Vizion Plus TV called "Zone e Lire". The EFJ called on the Albanian authorities to respect European standards of press freedom, which include the right for journalists to operate freely, not be targeted by the police and not be forced to reveal their sources of information.

DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION

A documentary movie was projected at the Academy of Film and Multimedia Marubi on January 21, with the participation of members of diplomatic corpus, civil society, journalists, and students. The documentary focused on Ryszard Kapuscinski, the famous war correspondent and one of the world's most important contemporary literary figures. Known as "Indiana Jones with a notepad," Kapuscinski is a legend among his peers who has been looking for the truths of human experience in the most dangerous places. Filmmaker Gabrielle Pfeiffer traveled with Kapuscinski in four countries, capturing his true character, his passion, his humor and his demons. The film interweaves Kapuscinski's childhood as a refugee in Poland during WWII, with his later experiences on the battlefields of the Third World, in a poetic reverie of the tragedy and the absurdity of war. It also looks at the lines between journalism and literature, and challenges of the writer in the face of censorship. This documentary was projected with the support of Frontline Club.

ROUNDTABLE DEBATE ON PUBLIC BROADCASTER AND THE DIGITAL SWITCHOVER

A roundtable debate on the future of the public broadcaster in the framework of digital switchover was organized on February 2, with the participation of media editors, journalists, and journalism students. Key speakers were Ilda Londo, media researcher at the Albanian Media Institute, and Agron Aranitasi, director of the Technical Directorate at the RTSH, the public broadcaster. The speakers briefed the participants on the current situation and attempts being made for digital switchover, focusing especially on RTSH situation and experience. They addressed such issues as the need for government support and aid in the switchover process, the current license fee for the public broadcaster, the programming aspects of digital TV for the public broadcasts, and the likely developments for both commercial and public multiplexes in the future, with a special emphasis on effects for the public. This roundtable was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.

PUBLICATION OF ESSAYS FROM ADAM MICHNIK

“In search of the lost sense” is the title of the collection of essays from Adam Michnik published from Albanian Media Institute on February. Adam Michnik is the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, and a distinguished contemporary intellectual. He is a historian, essayist, and political publicist, famous not just in Poland, but also abroad. He has been among the main organizers of the opposition and democratic movement in Poland and he can be considered as the critical consciousness of the post-communist transition. The selection of the essays was made by Michnik and this is the first collection of essays from the author published in Albanian. This publication was supported by Erste Foundation.

MEDIA AND CITIZENS FORUM ON LOCAL NEWS REPORTING

A media and citizens forum on the topic of local news reporting was organized in Elbasan on February 23. Participants included local media reporters, representatives of local government, and civil society representatives. The main objective of the forum was to discuss and raise awareness among the participants on the role and 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 forum 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. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Open Society Foundation, Albania.

AWARDS FOR CULTURE JOURNALISTS

The Ministry of Culture handed out the “Teodor Keko” awards for best culture reporters and journalists for 2010. The awards were handed out to Pandi Laco, co-producer and conductor of a TV show that emphasizes musical ethno-cultural heritage, to Fatos Baxhaku, well-known reporter for his programs that identify authentic Albanian cultural values, and to Ben Andoni, for his contribution to print journalism in conveying profiles of Albanian artists.

TRAINING COURSE ON MIGRATION
 
A training course on migration was organized on February 9-11, at the Albanian Media Institute, with journalists from capital-based electronic and print media. The main aim of the course was to raise awareness among journalists on the proper ways of covering migration in the press, since this phenomenon has been a significantly pronounced one in the country in the last decade. The participants were briefed on the main aspects to consider when reporting migration, the specific nature of Albanian migration movements as compared to other countries, as well as various sources, reports, and figures to refer to when reporting on this issue. Lecturers also discussed with participants the aspect of migration as a human right, addressing the respective legislation, regulation, and other policies in this respect. The participants became familiar with and discussed case studies of media coverage of migration, analyzing the main trends and issues in this respect, focusing on features such as topics covered, language used, presence of stereotypes, etc. Finally, the main provisions of the Code of Ethics and ethical principles in general that journalists should consider when covering migration in their work were also part of the training course. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.
 
BBC SERVICE IN ALBANIAN SHUTS DOWN
 
BBC service in Albania was interrupted on February 28, along with services in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia. The decision was made as part of BBC need to reduce expenses. This service in Albania was interrupted after 18 years of broadcasting. A two-hour program that identified the most important events reported in this period was broadcast for the occasion. BBC services in the region have witnessed and reported on numerous important events through the years, such as establishment of democratic regimes, social upheaval in Albania in 1997, NATO bombardments in 1998-1999, establishment of Kosovo as a state in 2008, armed conflict in Macedonia in 2001, etc.
 
CLUB OF HEALTH REPORTERS ESTABLISHED
 
The Club of Health Reporters was established in a roundtable event on February 25, with the participation of journalists, domestic and international organizations, the Minister of Health, representatives from Parliamentary Health Commission, and deputy Minister of Education. The organizers stated that the need for establishment of this club stemmed from increasing awareness for responsibility in health reporting and growing necessity to expand the actors represented in health reporting.


AMI NEWSLETTER - March 2011


REPORT OF OSCE REPRESENTATIVE ON FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA ADDRESSES ALBANIA

In her regular report to the OSCE Permanent Council, Dunja Mijatovic, the Representative on Freedom of the Media, mentioned the recent problems with Albanian media situation. She reported that she had written to the Speaker of Parliament, Jozefina Topalli, and Prime Minister Sali Berisha to express her concern about a parliamentary committee’s request for journalists’ phone logs. The committee is looking into circumstances surrounding violent demonstrations that took place in Tirana on 21 January. She had stressed that the protection of journalists’ sources is one of the basic conditions for media freedom. Absent such protection, sources may be deterred from sharing information of public interest. Any overriding of the principle of the confidentiality of sources should be carefully balanced against the public interest. Mijatovic asked the authorities to ensure that decisions that require media to hand over their materials or electronic equipment need to be prescribed by law and made by independent and impartial decision-making bodies or courts. On 15 March Mijatovic received a reply from the Secretary General of the Albanian Parliament stating that on 3 February a Parliamentary committee unanimously decided to refrain from requesting the phone logs of citizens and journalists, a decision very much welcomed by the Representative on Freedom of the Media.

DEBATE ON SECULARISM, RELIGION, AND GLOBALISM

Albanian Media Institute organized in cooperation with UFO University the debate on the topic "Secularism, Religion, and Globalism," with the participation of students from different branches of this university. Prof. Rexhep Mejdani, former President of the Republic, and Piro Misha, director of the Institute of Dialogue and Communication, discussed with the present students and academics on the relations between state and religious communities presently, focusing on the cases of Western societies, but also on those of the Arab world. Particular attention was paid to the latest events in the Arab world.
The debate also focused on the Albanian case. Different questions of the students were related to the approach towards religious symbols in public environments, but also in relation to the religious census of the population in Albania. The debate was moderated by Remzi Lani, director of the Albanian Media Institute. This debate was part of a project that the Albanian Media Institute is implementing with the support of UNESCO/MDG-F JP, in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations.

PROJECTION OF “ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE”

The documentary movie “Enemies of the people” was projected at Marubi Film abd Multimedia Academy on March 21, with the participation of civil society representatives, journalists, students, and moviemakers. The documentary focuses on the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, which ran what is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most brutal regimes. Yet the Killing Fields of Cambodia remain unexplained. In “Enemies of the people,” the men and women who perpetrated the massacres break a 30-year silence to give testimony never before heard or seen. Unprecedented access from top to bottom of the Khmer Rouge has been achieved through a decade of work by one of Cambodia’s best investigative journalists, Thet Sambath. Sambath is on a personal quest: he lost his own family in the Killing Fields. The film is his journey to discover not how but why they died. In doing so, he hears and understands for the first time the real story of his country’s tragedy. After the projection, the participants had a discussion session with Matthew Torne, Executive Producer of the movie. This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Frontline Club.

REPORT ON MEDIA ADVERTISING MARKET

A report on media advertising market was published by Monitor magazine in mid-March, based on a research carried our by MC Monitoring. According to this research, the total value of advertising market for 2010 amounted to 55 million Euros. TV stations get the lion share of this market, receiving 65 % of the total revenue. Almost 23% goes to outdoor advertisement, while radio and print media have each 5 %. Internet gets only 1%, but its advertising revenue is increasing rapidly. According to the data, Top Channel TV, TV Klan, and Vizion Plus TV receive 30 million Euros, out of 35 million that goes to TV stations in total. The biggest advertisers remain telecom companies, banks, digital broadcasters, a government ministry, etc. The research indicates that Albanian media advertising market still has the lowest tariffs in the region.

MEDIA AND CITIZENS FORUM ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION ISSUES

A media and citizens forum on the topic of reporting European integration was organized in Berat on March 3. Participants included local media reporters, representatives of local government, and civil society representatives. The main objective of the forum was to discuss and raise awareness among the participants on the media role on informing the community on the most relevant issues related to European integration. For this purpose the lecturers addressed several issues related to the specific traits of local media in reporting for the community, against the backdrop of reporting on EU integration.
The participants became familiar with the history of relations between Albania and the EU, the various steps of integration process, the different stages of the Stabilization-Association Agreement, the role of liberalization of visa regime and the specific features of working for a local media, and competition and survival challenges of local media against a backdrop of globalization. The forum 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. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Open Society Foundation, Albania.

TRAINING COURSE ON ELECTION REPORTING

A training course on reporting on elections was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 29-30, in view of the coming local elections of May 8. This 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. Participants included 17 political reporters from print and electronic mainstream media. On the first day, journalists were introduced to legal framework on elections, especially the Electoral Code and system. They were briefed on the novelties it presented as compared to the previous systems, with a special focus on local elections’ chapter. 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.
 
On the second day, 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. Specific attention was paid to the publication of polls, surveys, and exit polls in the media. The participants also focused on cases of media coverage in the last elections, discussing politicization of the coverage vis-à-vis community or public interest. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

 
PROJECTION OF “VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE”

The documentary movie “View from the bridge: Stories from Kosovo” was projected at Marin Barleti University in Tirana on March 18, with the participation of journalists and students. This is the first documentary feature about post-war Kosovo. Through a collection of riveting eyewitness accounts, the movie tells the human story of the Kosovo crisis while revealing important lessons about the worldwide epidemic of ethnic conflict. Centered on the divided city of Mitrovica, the documentary revolves around one of Kosovo's singular landmarks: Mitrovica's bridge. Once a symbol of unity in a multi-ethnic society, the bridge became a flashpoint of riots and protests and now stands as a quiet symbol of intractable division. Serbians never travel south to the Albanian section of town, and Albanians, if they try to cross the bridge to the North, are greeted by a group of Serbian extremists called "The Bridge Watchers," who will surely deny them passage. This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Frontline Club.

TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING THE ARAB WORLD

A training course on reporting the Arab world was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 8. Lecturers were Kastriot Islami, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Luan Hajdaraga, ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Participants included editors and reporters of foreign affairs from print and electronic media. The lecturer focused on a general overview on Middle East affairs and the current ongoing conflicts and unrest in several Arab countries.  They focused on the context of the current uprisings, trying to discuss with journalists the causes that led to these uprisings. They focused especially on the economic problems of the region, the nature of authoritarian regimes, the absence of democratic rights and freedoms, and the repressive policies of these countries’ governments. The stance of the EU, the USA, and other foreign actors towards the situation was another aspect addressed by the lecturers. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.


AMI NEWSLETTER - April 2011


COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS IN THE MEDIA SPARKS CONTROVERSY
 
At the beginning of the electoral campaign for local elections, some of the main TV stations in the country notified that they would not accept to broadcast any footage sent from the political parties and candidates, reacting to a significant criticism to this practice from 2009 elections’ ODIHR report. However, members of the Media Monitoring Board, after monitoring reports of the campaign, suggested that the TV stations should compensate the parties and candidates with the time that the law requires, by broadcasting footage shot from parties, instead, if the media are not able to follow the activities required.
 
While the party in power claimed that its candidate for mayor in the capital did not receive sufficient and appropriate coverage in the media, the media claimed that they have not received prior notification of the candidate’s agenda, in order to cover him, or, they have not been allowed to film the activities in some cases. ODIHR’s second interim report stated that with the decision on tapes the Board exceeded its competencies, allowing the political parties to affect editorial decisions of private media.
 
This decision led to reactions and debates from media outlets, media experts, and civil society. The journalists’ trade union and associations regarded this decision as unacceptable and incompatible with journalists’ mission, expressing their solidarity with the media outlets that had made the decision to refuse broadcasting ready-made tapes. The Albanian Helsinki Committee also issued a statement against this decision by Central Elections Committee, declaring that any interference in the media coverage, suggesting the broadcast of materials prepared by political subjects, would violate media freedom and would affect information conveyed to the public.   
 
US HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ADDRESSES MEDIA FREEDOM
 
Early this month the US State Department issued the annual report on human rights and practices, which also addresses the state of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. According to the report, the legal framework provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government respected many of these rights in practice. However, there were reports that the government and businesses influenced and pressured the media. The report stated that individuals could freely criticize the government publicly or privately without reprisal, although there were some exceptions. Some media outlets reported they experienced selective tax inspections due to their editorial point of view. The media were active and largely unrestrained, however; there were cases of direct and indirect political pressure on the media, including threats against journalists. At times political pressure and lack of funding constrained the independent print media, and journalists reported that they practiced extensive self-censorship. Political parties, trade unions, and other groups published newspapers or magazines independent of government influence.
 
According to the report, the public Albanian Radio and Television remained under government control in its editorial line. While private 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. Business owners also freely used media outlets to gain favor and promote their interests with both major parties. The report stated that various forms of media intimidation continued. 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.
 
DEBATE ON "DEMOCRACY AND ISLAM”

The Albanian Media Institute organized on April 6, with students of journalism branch of University of Tirana a debate on the topic "Secularism, Religion, and Globalization." Prof. Artan Fuga, academic, and Besnik Mustafaj, Chairman of the Albanian Forum for Alliance of Civilizations, discussed with the participating students and professors on issues related to Islam and Democracy. They presented some of the different viewpoints that appear today in the current global debate on the topic. Prof. Fuga presented a historical and contextual viewpoint on the relations between religions and state in general, and Islam in particular. Mustafaj focused especially on some fundamental thesis of Islam world thinkers on the relations between this religion and democracy. Special attention during the discussions was paid to ongoing events of Arab countries, which, for many of the persons that discussed was considered as year 1989 of the Arab world. The debate was moderated by Remzi Lani, director of the Albanian Media Institute. This debate was part of a project that the Albanian Media Institute is implementing with the support of UNESCO/MDG-F JP, in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations.

ESSAY COMPETITION WITH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT

The Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO-MDG F JP,  organized in early 2011 a competition for the best essay on the topic: “Instead of clash, alliance of civilizations: my opinion”, for high school students in the country. The participants were invited to express their opinions in short essays on the topic of relations among different civilizations, cultures, and religions.The jury selected first the best twenty essays, which were published in a book. The first award was given to Megi Mulita, student at high school “Petro Nini Luarasi”, Tirana, while the second and third awards were given respectively to Klevi Elezi (high school “Sami Frashëri”, Tirana) and Olsi Pajo (high school “Qemal Stafa”, Tirana).
 
The awards were handed out in a ceremony that took place in Hotel Sheraton on April 20, with the participation of the deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Edmond Haxhinasto and the Coordinator of United Nations Agency in Albania Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun. In the greeting speech in this ceremony, Mr. Haxhinasto congratulated the winner Mulita on her analytic essay,e specially on "the conclusions that she had reached with the maturity of her age." At the end, he invited the winner to spend one month at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to get acquainted with the institution and with different issues of foreign policy.
 
TRAINING SEMINARS ON MEDIA AND ELECTIONS
 
Albanian Media Institute and Council of Europe organized two two-day seminars in Tirana on April 12-15, with the participation of 30 reporters. The two seminars were targeted at print and electronic media journalists, aiming to train them on the 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.

PUBLICATION OF A SERIES OF 13 BROCHURE

Albanian Media Institute, in co-operation with the Institute of Dialogue and Communication, published a Series of Essays titled “Dialogue.”  The series consists of essays by well-known contemporary authors on subjects related to civilizations, religions, nationalism, culture, globalization, terrorism, etc.  In this series special attention was given to titles dealing with subject of special relevance to Albanian society or subjects relating to emerging international issues of relevance to Albanian society, such as religion and secularization, globalization, interethnic and inter-religious relations, Islam and Europe, terrorism, etc. Some of the authors published in this series include Habermas, Gellner, Bauman, Magris, Ditchev, etc.
The brochures were published with the aim of use by the intellectual elite as well as by students, journalists, and others. Copies of all published texts were given free of charge to all the most important public libraries, paying special attention to university libraries. All brochures were also published in CDs and are available on the web site of AMI. “Dialogue” series is done in co-operation with Eurozine and CCCB-Barcelona, with the support of UNESCO/MDG-F JP, in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations.

COURSE ON REPORTING TURKEY AND ITS REGIONAL IMPACT
 
A training course on reporting on Turkey and on its regional impact was organized on April 19 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of international affairs reporting. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants to the current foreign policy of Turkey and the impact it has on the whole region. The lecturers were Shaban Murati, diplomat, and Piro Misha, analyst. They shared their views on Turkish foreign policy and provided a political, ideological and religious overview of Turkey, addressing Turkish attempts to EU membership. They addressed several key issues of Turkish foreign policy, such as the relations with Greece, the case of Cyprus, the case of Bosnia, relations with its southern neighbors, and its role on Middle East affairs. The speakers also analyzed the geopolitical ambitions of Turkey from the regional point of view, considering Turkey’s role in the NATO alliance, its intermediary role in the region, its economic power, its religious stance, the role of the military and the country’s internal contradictions. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

A DOCUMENTARY ON RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE IN ALBANIA

“Island of peace” is the documentary of Fatos Baxhaku and Eno Milkani, which addresses the topic of inter-religious relations in Albania. The movie, which closely combines historic and modern-day approach, provides numerous facts on what is considered as harmonious religious co-existence in Albania. Religious coexistence and tolerance among Albanians is one of the most precious assets in the country. However, this probably unique fact is not that well-known outside Albania. For this purpose, Albanian Media Institute produced a documentary on the promotion of the Albanian model of religious co-existence. The movie was broadcast by national TV station Top-Channel. The realization of the movie was part of the project of Alliance of Civilizations that the Albanian Media Institute implemented with the support of UNESCO/MDG-F JP.
 
TRAINING COURSE ON ELECTION REPORTING
 
A training course on reporting on elections was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on April 21-22, in view of the coming local elections of May 8. 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. Participants included political reporters from print and electronic mainstream media. On the first day, journalists were introduced to legal framework on elections, especially the Electoral Code and system. They were briefed on the novelties it presented as compared to the previous systems, with a special focus on local elections’ chapter. 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.
 
On the second day, 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 the legal requirements on electronic media coverage of elections. The participants were informed on the role of the Media Monitoring Board, the obligations of the public broadcaster, the controversy over media monitoring, the rules on electoral campaign advertisement spots, etc. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
PROJECTION OF DOCUMENTARY MOVIE
 
The documentary movie “Faith Without Fear” was projected for journalists, journalism students, and civil society activists at the Albanian Media Institute on April 19. This is a movie of Irshad Manji, the bestselling author of “The Trouble With Islam Today.” In “Faith Without Fear” Manji travels the globe on a journey to reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom. Inspired by the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, she calls on her fellow Muslims to stop blaming others for their ills and seeks to discover how Muslims can change for the 21st century.
 
While highlighting Manji’s quest for the heart of the Islamic tradition, “Faith Without Fear” also reveals her close relationship with her mother – a devout Muslim who believes her daughter is (mostly) right, but who also fears for the consequences of her beliefs. In an era in which Islam is often portrayed in the media as harsh and violent and Muslims as fundamentalist fanatics, ‘Faith Without Fear” offers a complex and multi-faceted inquiry into one of the world’s great religions, from the perspective of a woman who is dissenting, yet deeply engaged with her faith. This movie was projected with the kind assistance of European Foundation for Democracy, who granted the broadcasting right. Irshad Manji works as a senior fellow in this organization. The projection of the movie was part of a project of Alliance of Civilizations that the Albanian Media Institute implemented with the support of UNESCO/MDG-F JP.
 
MEDIA AND CITIZENS FORUM ON HEALTH REPORTING
 
A media and citizens forum on the topic of health reporting was organized in Burrel  on April 27. Participants included local media reporters, representatives of local government, and civil society representatives. The speakers discussed the way that media covers health issues in the country, pointing out that although there is sensitivity towards health issues and system in Albanian media, it is not a clear priority. The main objective of the forum was to raise awareness among local journalists on the importance of ethical and informed reporting on health issues. For this purpose, the participants were introduced to the main problems of health education in Albania and the efforts made for promoting and raising awareness on improving education of the public in this regard. In addition, the participants became familiar with the legislation in force regarding public health, with the legislation for protection of environment and the one against air pollution, the food safety legislation and measures, etc. Consumer protection legislation and implementation was also another topic addressed during the forum, against the background of the media role in raising awareness among the public on this legislation. Finally, the forum focused on mental health, drug, alcohol and smoking addictions and the strategies in place aiming at their prevention. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of Open Society Foundation, Albania.

PUBLICATION ON PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM AND SELF-REGULATION IN THE REGION

Albanian Media Institute published the Albanian version of “Professional journalism and self-regulation in South East Europe and Turkey: New media, old dilemmas.” This publication compiles articles by distinguished experts and covers Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Turkey, and Kosovo. This book examines the implementation of media accountability mechanisms created, operated and followed by media professionals on a voluntary basis. The publication was produced as part of the 30-month project, Alignment to International Standards in the Media Sector of South East European Countries, implemented by UNESCO with funding from the European Commission and in close collaboration with the South East European Network for the Professionalization of Media (SEENPM), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AIPCE).
 
U.S. EMBASSY CUTS OFF RELATIONS WITH DAILY NEWSPAPER
 
The U.S. Embassy in Tirana decided to interrupt relations with daily newspaper “Shekulli” on April 14, after an article published in this newspaper on the US ambassador. The embassy claimed that the article was a personal assault against the ambassador, referring to his person and race, which could not be tolerated. As a result, the embassy said it will no longer send press releases and statements to the newspaper, and its journalists will not be invited to training courses and other events. “Shekulli” newspaper considered this decision an unprecedented one and considered the boycott an extreme reaction. The newspaper fully supported and republished the article which sparked the controversy, stating that it was the opinion of the writer, not of the newspaper, and he had all the freedom to express his opinion.


AMI NEWSLETTER - May 2011


OSCE/ODIHR REPORT ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS
 
After the May 8th local elections in the country, OSCE/ODIHR issues the preliminary evaluation report on May 10. Part of the report addressed media conduct during elections. The report stated that the media monitored offered extensive coverage of the elections in different types of programs. While the law prescribes that public broadcaster TVSH must provide equal airtime between the largest parties in news broadcasts, it devoted 42 per cent of its political news coverage to DP and 36 per cent to SP. An additional 10 per cent was provided to the DP-led government. Only 12 per cent of news coverage remained for all the other political parties.
 
The preliminary report stated that for the private channels, media monitoring showed the political division among media, but also the diversity of views available to voters. TV Klan favoured the ruling parties, while Vizion Plus favoured the opposition. Top Channel and News 24 provided generally neutral coverage to the DP and SP but were more negative in tone towards the government.

TV Klan allotted 59 per cent of news coverage to DP, 27 per cent to SP and 7 per cent to the government. Vizion Plus devoted 47 per cent of its news coverage to SP, 34 per cent to DP and 7 per cent to the government. News 24 allotted 45 per cent of its news coverage to SP and 33 per cent to the DP. Five per cent of coverage was allocated to the government. Top Channel devoted 41 per cent of its news coverage to SP, 31 per cent to DP and 12 per cent to the government.

The preliminary report also focuses on the role of the Media Monitoring Board, focusing on the way some proposals of the board reflected its partisan composition. So, on 14 April, the CEC ordered the media to stop the airing of two SP campaign ads on the grounds that the SP was not clearly recognizable as the sponsor. The ads were broadcast again after they were more clearly identified as being from the party. The second decision ordered broadcasters to air tapes prepared by electoral subjects in case the stations could not provide their own news coverage and gave political parties the power to determine the allocation of news coverage between party and candidate activities. The report states that “the decision departed from the Electoral Code and gave parties influence over editorial decisions of broadcast media.” This decision was overturned by the Electoral College.
 
TRAINING IN ETHICS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
 
A training course on ethics in the blogosphere was organized at Albanian Media Institute on May 16-19, with the participation of 15 journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The trainer started by discussing the role of blogs as a different way of disseminating information, as well as blogging as an additional element in promoting free speech and serving as democratic platform. The lecturer made an analysis of Albanian media websites that have their own forums and blogs. The lecturer and participants focused especially on potential cases of violation of ethics, use of hate speech, open-minded discussion vis-à-vis propaganda, accuracy vis-à-vis gossip, public interest versus sensationalism, etc. The lecturer then introduced Albanian journalists to main principles of blogging as a new form of reporting and debate. The participants became familiar with the main sites which create the best place and services for them, in the way that they can create their own web-blogs. They also focused on and discussed different kinds of blogs, their structure, and the different journalism communities making use of blogging. Participants also discussed how the traditional media, in addition to new media, should or could cope with the ethical problems that emerge from use of technologies and blogging in particular. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Austrian Development Agency.
 
COURSE ON REPORTING MIGRATION
 
A training course on reporting migration was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 11-13, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The main aim of this course was to raise awareness among journalists on the proper ways of covering migration in the press, since this phenomenon has been a significantly pronounced one in the country in the last decade. The lecturers brought case studies of media coverage of migration, analyzing the main trends and issues in this respect, focusing on features such as topics covered, language used, presence of stereotypes, etc. They also discussed with participants the aspect of migration as a human right, addressing the respective legislation, regulation, and other policies in this respect. Finally, the journalists were briefed on the main aspects to consider when reporting migration, the specific nature of Albanian migration movements as compared to other countries, as well as various sources, reports, and figures to refer to when reporting on this issue. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.
 
PUBLICATION OF THREE BOOKS ON CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS
 
Albanian Media Institute published three books of essays from well-known contemporary authors. The first book is "Fear of small numbers" by Arjun Appadurai, of 2006. In six short and clearly written chapters, Appadurai offers a compelling explanation about the sources of global unrest, terrorism, and ethnic strife. As one of the main theoriticians of globalization, the author pays attention to its complex dynamics, to culturally-motivated violence, and to contemporary war against terrorism. The book is a cautious invitation to reflect on what is violence in the globalization era. The second book is "What does China Think?" by Mark Leonard, of 2008. While we know all about the statistics of China's rise, we have heard very little about China as a powerhouse of ideas about politics, economics and world order. The author introduces thinkers shaping China's future, and opens up a hidden world of intellectual debate that could change our world. Leonard reveals a Chinese model of Globalisation that could re-shape the face of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
 
The third book is "Identity and Violence: The illusion of destiny," by Amartya Sen, of 2006. The author, winner of Nobel prize, proposes in his work that the brutalities are driven as much by confusion as by inescapable hatred. Challenging the reductionist view that people of the world can be partitioned into little boxes in terms of civilization categories, Sen draws on history, economics, science, literature, and his own memories of difficult as well as easy times on three continents to present an inspiring vision of a world that can be made to move toward peace as firmly as it has spiralled in recent years toward violence and war. These books are published by Albanian Media Institute, as part of a project implemented with the support of UNESCO/MDG-F JP, in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations.
 
SEMINAR ON REPORTING CHINA
 
A seminar on reporting China was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 27, with the participation of journalists and editors of mainstream print and electronic media. Speakers were Roland Bimo and Agim Nesho, former ambassadors and experienced diplomats. They focused on the role of China in current international affairs, analyzing it from the economic point of view, its internal political situation, and the position and influence of China in international relations. More specifically, the speakers 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. Unequal development inside the country, poverty, social tensions, and problematic situation of human rights were another aspect addressed during the course. They also discussed with the participants the nature of Chinese influence, analyzing the perspective for the balance of the new world order. Specific attention was paid to the increasing role and participation of China in international organizations. Finally, the lecturers 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 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
CONFERENCE ON PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM CULTURE
 
A conference on the culture of professional journalism was organized in Tirana on May 13, with the participation of academics, media representatives, and civil society. The conference focused on professionalism of journalists in Albania, aiming to identify and classify its main trends and developments. The speakers focused on different aspects and features of media environment in the country, such as print media and its future survival, culture of professionalism in the media and culture of citizens’ participation, pressure on self-censorship, self-regulation, developments on online media in Albania, etc. A special panel was also devoted to the problem of communication among actors in the country, such as cultural diversity reporting, local news made from international media, cultural media and collective memory, cultural fundamentalism in Albanian journalism in the transition era, etc. The conference was organized by UFO University and Albanian Media Institute.
 
TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING ON RELIGION
 
A training course on reporting of religion was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on May 24-26, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to improve reporting of religions in the media in the country. The speakers focused on the specific religious fabric in Albania and the history of inter-religious relations in the country. The speakers also discussed the new religions and alternative ones, along with ways these should be reported and the attitude to be held in this respect and their role in relation to traditional religions. The lecturers also discussed the historical role of the religion in the overall Albanian history, addressing also the roots and the prospective for the specific inter-religious coexistence and tolerance that exists in the country. The participants and lecturers also focused extensively on the media coverage of religious issues, especially in print media, discussing potential different angles in reporting and writing styles. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.


AMI NEWSLETTER - June 2011


NATIONS IN TRANSIT REPORTS ON ALBANIAN MEDIA

Freedom House released the 2011 “Nations in Transit” report, covering also Albania, including the situation of independent media. According to the report, Albanian media have advanced technologically, but a lack of independence and transparency of financial resources continued to be concerns. The report stated that the use of multimedia formats and the internet to provide information increased during the year. However, the report pointed out that there was the risk of misuse of these developing forms of information dissemination due to the absence of a legal framework to provide proper regulation. According to the report, strong government ties to the former and current chairs of the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) showed that this institution was still far from being independent. The report highlighted that freelance journalism is not regulated and is little practiced in Albania, increasing even further the dependence of journalists on media owners. According to the report, the public service broadcaster, Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH), remained underdeveloped in terms of technology and program content compared with private broadcasters. RTSH information programs were biased, providing excessive coverage to government activities or high political representatives while giving little space to other public actors. The report pointed out that state-funded advertisements were limited to two or three media companies, constituting a near monopoly and shrinking the resources available to other media operators. All of this led to no change in the evaluation of indicators of media independence as compared to last year.

SEMINAR ON REPORTING THE BALKANS

The seminar “Balkans: Progress, stagnation, or regress?” was organized on June 29 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of international affairs reporters. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants to the current state of affairs in the Balkans, what has happened in the last twenty years, and what are the prospects for the future in different Balkan countries. The lecturers were Shaban Murati, diplomat and experts of international relations, and Shkelqim Cani, former Governor of Central Bank and international affairs expert. Shkelqim Cani focused especially on the economic crisis several EU countries are going through, with special emphasis on Greece, given the impact it might have on Albanian economy, as well. He analyzed the Eurozone countries and the particular interests involved in maintaining Euro stability and assisting Greece. He also discussed the consequences of the huge debt that Greece is amassing, in view of the other potential borrowers that are next in line, such as Portugal or Spain. He also analyzed the specific nature of Greek economy and governance, pointing out the huge misbalances in economy, the challenges for the banking system, and the transparency of policies and real economic situation in the country. He also drew parallels to the current situation and practices of other South East European countries.

Shaban Murati focused more on the political situation in other countries of the Balkans, such as Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. He analyzed the complex Bosnian political situation, the involvement of the international actors, and the existing attempts to unify the Bosnian state. He also made a review of the political actors in the country and the unclear political situation, which has led to unstable governments and the existing fears that a new conflict might start. He discussed in particular with the participants the status of Kosovo and its future, the formulas proposed by Serbs for solving the matter, and EU and US stance in this regard. Finally, the issue of Macedonia, the progress and relations between ethnic population after Ohrid Agreement, and the problem of its name and the international consequences that ensue, were also discussed by the lecturer and participants in the seminar. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

TRAINING IN INTERNET ETHICS
 
A training course on Internet ethics was organized at Albanian Media Institute on June 21-24, with the participation of 15 journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The course addressed the issue of ethics in online media, with the advent of new media, social media, and new technologies. The lecturers addressed elements such as accuracy, diversity, taste, decency, privacy, etc., and specific cases that addressed ethical dilemmas when writing for the web. Copyright infringement seen in the ethical prism was also addressed during the course, along with plagiarism and piracy. Specific attention was also paid to verbal violence and hate speech in online communication, along with ways to curb them. The lecturer devoted one of the days to the topic of ethics in photography in digital age, discussing with participants several cases of digital photo manipulation, the ethical dilemmas and ramifications, as well as the problems with this aspect with the widespread use of technology, available not just to journalists, but to everyone. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Austrian Development Agency.

TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING ROMA

A training course on reporting Roma in mainstream media was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 14-16, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to introduce the journalists to the most relevant issues related to Roma situation in the country and analyze with them the media coverage on Roma and identify ways to improve it. The lecturers introduced the participants to a brief history of Roma in Albania, the existing stereotypes in society and in media regarding Roma, and addressed specific ways to improve Roma coverage in the media. Specific attention was paid to the language used vis-à-vis Roma, and the space devoted to them in mainstream media. Other important issues discussed including the lack of official statistics on Roma and the way this affects media coverage on them, the official Strategy for the Roma community, the civil society attempts made in this regard, etc. A special analysis was made on media coverage of Roma minority, bringing examples that had sparked media interest on Roma population, and analyzing the reasons for this interest and ways to increase and improve media coverage on Roma. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.
 
TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING DISABLED PERSONS

A training course on reporting disabled persons was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 7-9, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The main objective of the course was to introduce journalists to the problems in current media coverage of disabled persons and identify ways to orient media reporting on issues that are of public relevance and that represent the disabled persons. For this purpose, representatives of the Public Health Institute introduced the journalists to the existing legislation and strategies for improving the life of disabled persons, along with the main problems that prevent their implementation. The journalists became familiar with international legal regulation and conventions regarding disabled, as well as the way this regulation is mirrored in the Albanian Constitution and in ensuing laws on disabled persons. The lecturers also introduced the participants to the main models of treating disabled persons in the last fifty years and how perception of and treatment of disabled persons has evolved in these years. The lecturers also addressed the existing government strategy on treatment and rights of physically challenged persons and provided the existing data, statistics, and studies in this aspect in the country. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of U.S. Embassy.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS

The Albanian Forum for the Alliance of Civilization (AFALC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNESCO Venice Office organized a national conference entitled “Alliance of Civilizations in Albania: Challenges and Experiences” on 8 June in Albania. The conference was attended by high-level national authorities, the international community in Albania, and representatives from interested target groups. One of the main Alliance of Civilizations activities focused on media and journalists in Albania and the main achievements were presented by Besnik Mustafaj, President of AFALC. Remzi Lani, Director of the Albanian Media Institute, and  Pirro Misha, Director of the Institute of Dialogue and Communication, presented 7 books and 13 brochures on topics of interreligious and intercultural understanding recently published in Albanian for the first time. Education being one of the main tools to foster dialogue and peace, Tidita Abdurrahmani, Director of Institute of Curricula, shared the findings of an analysis of 10 history and geography textbooks from the intercultural and interreligious perspective.

The conference followed with the reading of the winning essay by Megi Mulita, “P.N.Luarasi” high school student, who was awarded the first prize in the essay competition “Instead of Clash, Alliance of Civilization: My View”, organized in January-March 2011 with Albanian high school students. The screening of the documentary film “Island of Peace” was also attended with much interest and appreciated for the artistic tools used by the filmmakers to portray interreligious harmony in Albania. This activity was implemented within the framework of the UN Joint Programme “Culture and Heritage for Social and Economic Development” (CHSED) financed by the Spanish Government through the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F).


AMI NEWSLETTER - July-August 2011


PUBLIC CONSULTING WITH STAKEHOLDERS ON NEW DRAFT OF AUDIOVISUAL REGULATION
 
Different interest groups discussed the content of the new bill on audiovisual services in mid July, but its final approval in the parliament was postponed for autumn, allowing for more time for stakeholders to provide their feedback. Parliamentary Media Commission called on different stakeholders to provide their opinions on the new regulation draft. However, given the importance of this regulation, the volume of the bill, and the vacation period, the discussions with stakeholders will continue upon resuming of Parliament activity in September. Currently two main laws regulate broadcasting in the country, the Law on Public and Private Radio and TV Broadcasting and the Law on Digital Broadcasting, merged in one. Even though the second law passed in 2007, it has not started implementation yet, in the absence of a Strategy on Digital Broadcasting. The draft presented to stakeholders by the Parliamentary Commission aims to merge regulation in only one law, which would cover all concerned areas. The workgroup that has worked on the draft has cooperated with Council of Europe and European Commission experts through the process.
 
In general the stakeholders appreciated the effort done in drafting a bill that aimed to regulate all areas and issues that currently concern audiovisual services. However, a major concern expressed included the fact that the finalization of the Strategy on Digital Switchover is imminent, and it would be more cautious for the Parliament to adopt the law in line with the Strategy lines. The Albanian Media Institute, while appreciating the work done, underlined the need to leave self-regulation to media, rather than any other body, and expressed the hope that the media reform will continue with amendments to defamation and libel articles and the Law on Access to Information. In addition, Albanian Media Institute and other stakeholders opposed the role that the Law envisages for the Minister. The regulatory authority, National Council of Radio and Television, and the public broadcaster, Albanian Radio and Television, called for a greater clarification of terms, functions, and competencies related to the regulation covering their work. Meanwhile, other stakeholders, such as Union of Albanian Journalists, called for greater protection for journalists to be sanctioned in the law, while the representative of Association of Electronic Media provided suggestions and remarks on issues related to assignment of frequencies, ownership provisions, certain content regulation, etc. Several stakeholders claimed that the time was too short to provide a useful feedback. As a result, the Parliament decided to postpone the approval of the bill, until further feedback is gathered. 
 
SEMINAR ON REPORTING EUROPE TODAY
 
The seminar titled “Europe: Challenges and dilemmas” was organized on July 27 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of international affairs reporters. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants to the current issues Europe is experiencing, along with the challenges they represent for the future. The lecturers were Ilda Zhulali, General Director of European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Albert Rakipi, Director of the Albanian Institute of International Studies. The lecturers focused on two main perceivable trends in European politics at the moment: federalism and nationalism, and the struggle between the two. They tackled the basis of federalism, such as delegation of power from different areas to the center, focusing especially on current delegation of economic power in view of the financial crisis. More specifically, the speakers focused on the trend towards federalism, especially after the Treaty of Lisbon and the administrative changes and structures that followed. Parallel to this, the lecturers discussed the nationalist trends that are present in European countries. They discussed such issues as skepticism vis-à-vis EU, the resistance to other cultures, the increasing role of right-wing parties and their impact on migration policies in the EU, including the visa regimes.
 
Further on, the speakers analyzed the media role in covering these issues, focusing on specific cases. One of the most salient cases was the Greek crisis and endangerment of Eurozone. Other issues discussed included the migration wave towards Italy from Northern Africa and its ramifications, the Norwegian case, etc. Finally, the speakers discussed in general foreign policy and security issues within the EU, emphasizing the lack of a common stance in this regard, with EU countries following a nation-based rather than common policy. The lecturers and participants discussed the impact these trends have on the dilemmas of EU enlargement, the causes that lead to an unclear picture of the future for the Balkan countries, the position of Serbia and Kosovo within the region, and, more specifically, the Albanian perspective in this regard. This seminar was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
OSCE/ODIHR FINAL REPORT ON MEDIA CONDUCT DURING ELECTIONS
 
On August 15 the OSCE/ODIHR observing mission issued its final report on May 8 Albanian local elections. Part of the report analyzed media conduct during elections. According to the report, the plurality and diversity of media outlets allowed the voters to choose from a variety of views in these elections. However, both broadcast and print media were divided along political lines, undermining their independence. The media monitored by the OSCE/ODIHR devoted most of their news coverage to the two large political parties, while giving an average of only 11 per cent to all other political parties. The public broadcaster TVSH devoted 42 per cent of its political news coverage to the ruling party and 35 per cent to the main opposition party, with the tone of news coverage being more positive for the ruling party. According to the report, despite the political division among media, the private TV channels offered a diversity of views to voters. Media monitoring showed that TV Klan favoured the governing parties, while Vizion Plus favoured the opposition. Top Channel and News 24 provided generally neutral coverage to the two large parties, but their news coverage was more negative in tone towards the government.
 
The report also stated that two decisions made by Central Elections Commission on media coverage and advertisement from political parties in the media were highly controversial. The first decision was related to the CEC ordering four private TV stations to stop broadcasting an advertisement of the Socialist Party, on grounds that the political party was not clearly identifiable. The second decision of CEC was an order for broadcasters to air tapes prepared by electoral subjects in case the stations could not provide their own news coverage. According to the report, this decision departed from the Electoral Code and contradicted the Law on Public and Private Radio and Television, giving political parties an undue influence over editorial freedom of broadcast media. However, the decision was overturned by the Electoral College.
 
COURSE ON PHOTOJOURNALISM ETHICS IN DIGITAL ERA
 
A training course on photojournalism ethics in digital era was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 5-8, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The course focused on the specific genre of photojournalism, especially on its ethical ramifications against the backdrop of digital technology. The participants were introduced and discussed issues such as photos as a visual medium and a way of conveying the news, along with the potential for manipulating the news. Discussing specific examples, the distinction between documentary photos and news photos was made, along with an introduction to a brief history of photojournalism in the world.
 
The participants were introduced in detail to the specific ethical issues that arise from use of photos, especially digital ones, in the news, such as intrusion into privacy, distortion of image, minors in photos, stereotypes and prejudices when using photos, disaster photos and human dignity, etc. Using specific photos for these cases, the participants discussed what constitutes the line that journalists should not tread when using these photos. Specific attention was paid to manipulation of photography and the cases when this is permissible. Finally, journalists were introduced to and discussed the ethics of digital elaboration of photography, making the distinction between technical interventions and works that are not allowed from the ethical point of view. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Austrian
Development Agency.
 
COURSE ON REPORTING LGBT COMMUNITY
 
A training course on reporting the LGBT community in the media was organized on July 20-22, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The main aim of the course was to introduce journalists to the main issues that surround the LGBT community in the country, ways and sources of reporting on this community, and discussing ethical issues that arise when reporting on this group. The lecturers discussed with participants the evolution of coverage of LGBT in the Albanian media, along with the legal changes that have taken place in the last years in this aspect. Particular attention was paid to the existing stereotypes and how they emerge in media coverage, as well as to discrimination in social context of LGBT, including media. The course focused specifically on the space allotted to LGBT in the media, analyzing the nature of coverage of the topic, the echo in the media on this community, especially in recent period, the most frequent topics and how they are covered from the social and cultural point of views, etc. In terms of specific sources that need to be used in reporting, specific attention was paid to cooperation with NGOs that work in human rights field and especially LGBT rights, along with the potential topics that might be covered in the media in this regard. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
 
PUBLICATION OF “A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE MUSEUM OF COMMUNISM”
 
The latest publication of Albanian Media Institute is “A guided tour through the museum of communism,” by well-known Croatian author Slavenka Drakulic. The author offers an exploration of communism in the Eastern European bloc in eight chapters, using a group of animals as narrators: a Czech mouse, a Yugoslavian parrot, a Polish cat, an East German mouse, a pig from Hungary and Albanian raven and a Romanian dog. Each narrator reflects on the past and present, twenty years from the fall of Communism. These narrators wonder—in their own particular ways—whether democracy and capitalism were a change for the better and ask big questions: has the idea of social justice been lost forever? What are we to do with our past? In this book Drakulić examines the impact of Communism and the price that it exacted on an important part of the world. The book was published with the support of ERSTE Foundation, Vienna.
 
COURSE ON REPORTING ROMA
 
A training course on reporting Roma was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on July 13-15, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to introduce the journalists to the most relevant issues related to Roma situation in the country and analyze with them the media coverage on Roma and identify ways to improve it. The lecturers introduced the participants to a brief history of Roma in Albania, the existing stereotypes in society and in media regarding Roma, and addressed specific ways to improve Roma coverage in the media. Specific attention was paid to the language used vis-à-vis Roma, and the space devoted to them in mainstream media. Other important issues discussed including the lack of official statistics on Roma and the way this affects media coverage on them, the official Strategy for the Roma community, the civil society attempts made in this regard, etc. A special analysis was made on media coverage of Roma minority, bringing examples that had sparked media interest on Roma population, and analyzing the reasons for this interest and ways to increase and improve media coverage on Roma. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
 
ASSOCIATION OF SEE PBS MEDIA MEETING IN ALBANIA
 
The association of Public Service Media in South East Europe held a meeting in Durres, Albania, on July 14-16. Participants included members of regulators and public service broadcasters from South East European countries. They shared their experience, problems, and challenges on issues relevant to each country in the area of continuous need for evolution of public service broadcasters. A key issue discussed during the meeting included the digital switchover process in the countries where this process has to start or is ongoing. Digitization of archives was another important topic that was addressed during the meeting. Co-productions and ways of cooperation among different countries and broadcasters in the region was another major discussion theme for participants. The challenges that lie ahead for public broadcasters and the changes they need to accommodate in the process was the underlying topic of the meeting, hosted by RTSH, the Albanian public service broadcaster.
 
PRESENTATION OF DIPLOMA WORKS IN JOURNALISM FACULTY
 
Journalism students at the University of Tirana presented their works produced in the framework of their diplomas on July 11. The students presented their TV, radio, print, and online reports prepared during their diploma work period. The media products included all ranges, such as photography, radio, TV, computer productions, multimedia, media critical analysis, public relations, etc. This activity was organized by Department of Journalism at University of Tirana.


AMI NEWSLETTER - September 2011


POLICY FORUM ON NEW AND SOCIAL MEDIA

A policy forum on development of social media was organized on September 30, with the participation of bloggers, websites of news aggregators, journalists, editors, and academicians. Participants were greeted by Mr. Florian Raunig, Ambassador of Austria, Mr. Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute, and Ms. Astrid Wein, Head of Austrian Technical Cooperation, who spoke on the importance of discussing and monitoring development of new and social media. Guest speaker was Mr. Robert Misik, journalist at Der Standard daily newspaper, and well-known Austrian blogger, who spoke on the main trends and issues he deals with as a blogger. He described the main problems he addresses in his blog, as compared to traditional media, the public reaction, the most frequent ethical problems, problems with defamation and potential lawsuits and the regulation on these matters, and the issue of funding with blogging.
 
Afterwards, participants became familiar with and discussed on the current stage of development of new and social media in Albania as compared to traditional media. They also focused on the main ethical issues that have emerged as result of speedy progress of social media and the potential regulation steps that can be made in this regard. Representatives of blogs, online newspapers, and news aggregators focused especially on the reaction they receive from the public, the funding problem, the importance of preserving independence, and the problem of intellectual property. This forum was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Austrian Development Agency.
 
SEMINAR ON REPORTING UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICY
 
The seminar on reporting on USA foreign policy and on its impact on the Balkans was organized on September 26 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of international affairs reporters. The main aim of the seminar was to introduce the participants to the current foreign policy of USA, its main trends and directions, and the impact it has on the whole region. The lecturers were Fatos Tarifa, former ambassador to USA, Lecturer at European University of Tirana, and Roland Bimo, former ambassador to USA, director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The lecturers focused on the USA foreign policy trends in the global context, against the backdrop of the developments in Russia and EU and the international factors that compete in the economic and military areas. Particular attention was paid to China-US relations, the American power and influence vis-à-vis the new rising powers, such as China, India, Russia, etc. The lecturer also focused on the US role in the Middle East as a major factor that shapes the international scene.
 
The speakers also analyzed the American policy in the Balkans, against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War and then 9/11. The policy was also compared to European policy in the same area, both in terms of intensity and trends. The lecturer focused especially on the reasons for intervening in Bosnia and in Kosovo, having in mind the threats to NATO unity and the values it represents. US foreign policy in the region was widely discussed, focusing on other factors that shape this policy, such as the insecurity of NATO alliance members in some cases, the so-called CNN effect, and the need for stability in the Balkans. In this context, the speakers also focused on the agreements of Dayton, Ohrid, and Kumanovo and the role and impact of US foreign policy in these cases. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
COURSE ON REPORTING SEXUAL MINORITIES
 
A training course on reporting the sexual minorities in the media was organized on September 13-15, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The main aim of the course was to introduce journalists to the main issues that surround the sexual minorities in the country, ways and sources of reporting on this community, and discussing ethical issues that arise when reporting on this group. The lecturers discussed with participants the evolution of coverage of sexual minorities in the Albanian media, along with the legal changes that have taken place in the last years in this aspect. Particular attention was paid to the existing stereotypes and how they emerge in media coverage, as well as to discrimination in social context of LGBT, including media. The course focused specifically on the space allotted to sexual minorities in the media, analyzing the nature of coverage of the topic, the echo in the media on this community, especially in recent period, the most frequent topics and how they are covered from the social and cultural point of views, etc. In terms of specific sources that need to be used in reporting, specific attention was paid to cooperation with NGOs that work in human rights field and especially LGBT rights, along with the potential topics that might be covered in the media in this regard. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Civil Rights Defenders.
 
TRAINING COURSE IN INTERNET ETHICS
 
A training course on Internet ethics was organized at Albanian Media Institute on September 7-9, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The course addressed the issue of ethics in online media, with the advent of new media, social media, and new technologies. The lecturers addressed elements such as accuracy, diversity, taste, decency, privacy, etc., and specific cases that addressed ethical dilemmas when writing for the web. Copyright infringement seen in the ethical prism was also addressed during the course, along with plagiarism and piracy. Specific attention was also paid to verbal violence and hate speech in online communication, along with ways to curb them. The lecturer devoted one of the days to the topic of ethics in photography in digital age, discussing with participants several cases of digital photo manipulation, the ethical dilemmas and ramifications, as well as the problems with this aspect with the widespread use of technology, available not just to journalists, but to everyone. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.
 
TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING ON RELIGION
 
A training course on reporting of religion was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on September 21-23, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The main aim of the course was to improve reporting of religions in the media in the country. The speakers focused on the specific religious fabric in Albania and the history of inter-religious relations in the country. The speakers also discussed the new religions and alternative ones, along with ways these should be reported and the attitude to be held in this respect and their role in relation to traditional religions. The lecturers also discussed the historical role of the religion in the overall Albanian history, addressing also the roots and the prospective for the specific inter-religious coexistence and tolerance that exists in the country. The participants and lecturers also focused extensively on the media coverage of religious issues, especially in print media, discussing potential different angles in reporting and writing styles. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.
 
WORKSHOP ON INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ETHICS DAY
 
Journalists, media managers, lecturers, representatives of governmental bodies and NGOs, local and international, and students discussed about the level of Ethics in the Albanian media on September 23 and proposed solutions to improve it in the event of international Media Ethics Day. Remzi Lani, Director of the Albanian Media Institute highlighted the fact that after years in transition, the legislative framework for media in Albania is lacking coherence; therefore it needs a complete revision. Aleksander Cipa, the head of the Union of the Albanian Journalists, said that the level of ethics cannot be seen isolated from the level of ethics in the society in general, which had a trauma after 50 years of communist regime. The Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Eugen Wollfarth made an appeal to the Albanian institutions to support media in order for the latter to report freely and independently. Other speakers addressed several ethical issues, such as protection of personal data in the media, and shared their own personal experience and challenges with ethical dilemmas. This event was organized by Albanian University.
 
SIXTH EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
 
This sixth edition of the Festival of Human Rights was organized at the Academy of Film and Multimedia Marubi on September 25-30. During the festival a selection of 35 feature, documentary and short movies was projected, coming from different countries of the world. The main themes of this edition dealt with various aspects of organized crime, corruption, terrorism, fundamentalism, human trafficking, and exploitation of minors, modern slavery and the abuse of natural resources. Particular attention was paid to freedom of expression, with three movies that addressed this issue, including documentary movie “Reporter,” and documentaries “An independent mind” and “This prison where I live,” presented by director Rex Bloomstein.  In addition, a forum with high school students was organized on the topic of using media as education tool. The forum discussion was illustrated with short movies. The festival is organized by Academy of Film and Multimedia Marubi, Albanian Media Institute, and a series of domestic and international organizations.
 
PRESENTATION OF PUBLICATION ON WELL-KNOWN POLITICIAN AND INTELLECTUAL
 
“Arben Xhaferi confesses: In Tetova, in search of meaning,” is the publication of Kosova journalist and publicist Enver Robelli. This publication was presented and promoted in an event organized on September 23 at the European University of Tirana. Participants included academicians, students, journalists, publicists, etc. The book is a result of an extended interview the author has realized with Arben Xhaferi, one of the key Macedonian Albanian politicians, but also a significant personality and intellectual in the Albanian-speaking world.  The book exposes, among other things, Xhaferi’s vision of the current situation in the Balkans and its future, based on his own experience, and remote history of the people that inhabit this area. The preface was written by Veton Surroi, well-known publicist, and editor of Koha publications. The book was introduced by Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute, and it was followed by a presentation by the author and a discussion.
 
NEW PUBLICATION ON ALBANIAN MEDIA AFTER WWII
 
“Albanian media specter at the end of WWII” is the title of the new publication by Arben Muka, well-known journalist and Deutsche Welle correspondent. The publication focuses on media influence during occupation of Albania by Nazi Germany. This study follows up on the author’s previous publication on the media conduct during Italian occupation of the country. In this way, the book identifies the main trends in coverage of the German occupation of the country, comparing it to the main features of media coverage of the previous occupation. For this purpose, the publication is an analysis of a diverse range of media outlets of the time, their editorial lines, professional level regarding choice of content and the way it was presented, the information conveyed and the messages the media sent to the audience at the time. 


AMI NEWSLETTER - October 2011


REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDIA, MINORITY, AND DIVERSITY

A regional conference on the topic of media, minority, and diversity was organized in Tirana on October 24-25. Participants were representatives of media, civil society, and minorities from different countries in the Balkans region. Present was also the Albanian Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination. The main aim of the conference was for the participants to share their experience and problems with media coverage of minorities in each country and identify potential solutions to the main problems and challenges. The discussion did not focus on the strict meaning of ethnic minorities, but it also expanded to media coverage of minorities or “the other” as a total, including ethnic, sexual diversity, hate speech, gender, religion, etc.
The discussion during the conference evolved around the main trends in media coverage of different groups and minorities, highlighting the need to embrace and emphasize diversity, rather than avoid or downplay it. Specific attention was paid to the role of public broadcasters in the region on reporting on and for minorities, stressing the need for improving coverage in this aspect. Minority groups discussed the difficulties they face with media coverage regarding stereotypes, but also access to mainstream media. In addition, representatives of minority media and groups also discussed their financial and professional challenges in maintaining and developing their own media outlets. The conference was organized by Albanian Media Institute and South East Europe Media Organization, with the support of Austrian Development Cooperation.

WORKSHOP ON SOCIAL MEDIA

 
A workshop on social media was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on October 10-14, with the participation of print, TV, and online journalists. The aim of the workshop was to address the current needs of Albanian journalists to improve use and skills of social media for their professional reporting. Trainers were Sam Swan from University of Tennesee, and Lutfi Dervishi, media expert. The trainers started by reviewing the situation in Albania and specific use of social media by traditional media and by new media and journalists, discussing the psychology of social media and the cases when this media can be used. The trainers continued by addressing the best practices for Facebook from journalists, especially in relation to news gathering. Use of other social media, such as Twitter, Flicks, and YouTube in relation to journalists’ work was also covered during the workshop, especially regarding coverage of breaking news. Specific attention was paid to the need to write for the online reader, covering the basics of blogging. Finally, the participants worked on cases of using social media for crisis and emergency communication through practical exercises. The workshop concluded with a ceremony of certificate awarding, distributed by US Deputy Ambassador Deborah Jones. This workshop was organized by Albanian Media Institute and the US Embassy.
 
SEMINAR ON REPORTING EUROZONE CRISIS

The seminar on reporting on Euro crisis and on its impact on the Balkans was organized on October 28 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of international affairs reporters. The main aim of the seminar was to introduce the participants to the different facets of the Euro crisis and to discuss with them the way this can impact the region and Albania. The lecturers were Adrian Civici, economist, Lecturer at European University of Tirana, and Gjergj Filipi, economist, Agenda Institute, Tirana. The lecturers focused first on a brief history and background of financial crisis, such as the Tulips’ Crisis, crisis of English banks, German hyperinflation, the Great Depression, etc. The lecturers focused on specific aspects of past crisis, comparing them to current Euro crisis. More specifically, the current Euro crisis focused on specific Eurozone challenges, such as insufficient organization to handle the crisis of member states, the difficulties associated with the decision to use a single currency, budget deficits of several states, Euro inflation and deflation, public debt, unemployment, etc. Special attention was paid to cases of violation of state budget discipline, as in the Greek case, to the clarifications on what the debt crisis entailed, and to the economic disparities among member states.
The lecturers also focused on the case of Italy and its public debt, comparing the risk of Italian crisis to that of the Greek crisis for the Eurozone. The potential solutions were also addressed, such as pardoning of part of the debts from the banks, the increase of capital available to banks, and the establishment of a mechanism to monitor the criteria for the other countries, such as a minister. The role of Great Britain and Denmark, who refuse to enter the Eurozone, was also addressed in relation to the crisis. The lecturers also discussed with the participants the potential effects the Euro crisis can have on the region. The seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

SEMINAR AND STUDY TRIP ON EU INSTITUTIONS

A seminar on EU institutions was organized in Tirana on October 20-21 and then was followed by a field trip to Luxembourg on October 22-27. Participants were 15 journalists and editors of mainstream media from Albania and Kosova. The main aim of the seminar was to introduce the participants to the main EU institutions, in the context of the two countries’ efforts to integrate into the EU. For this purpose, the participants in Tirana were briefed on the progress of Albania towards EU integration, the structure and functioning of EU institutions, Albanian perspective towards EU as seen from the Minister of Integration, civil society, and opposition and majority MPs, the public’s information on the process of integration, and the civil society’s efforts to monitor integration process into the EU. The visit to Luxembourg included a visit to the European Centre of Schengen, visit and presentation on the role of the European Investment Bank in Albania, visit at ”Luxemburger Wort” newspaper, visit at the European Court of Justice, with participation in court hearings and court facilities, visit to the Eurostat, as well as a final roundtable on EU and future enlargement. This seminar and field trip was organized by the European Journalism Centre and Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Luxemburg Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

TRAINING COURSE IN INTERNET ETHICS
 
A training course on Internet ethics was organized at Albanian Media Institute on October 5-7, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The course addressed the issue of ethics in online media, with the advent of new media, social media, and new technologies. The lecturers addressed elements such as accuracy, diversity, taste, decency, privacy, etc., and specific cases that addressed ethical dilemmas when writing for the web. Copyright infringement seen in the ethical prism was also addressed during the course, along with plagiarism and piracy. Specific attention was also paid to verbal violence and hate speech in online communication, along with ways to curb them. The lecturer devoted one of the days to the topic of ethics in photography in digital age, discussing with participants several cases of digital photo manipulation, the ethical dilemmas and ramifications, as well as the problems with this aspect with the widespread use of technology, available not just to journalists, but to everyone. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.
 
NEW PUBLICATION ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN ALBANIAN MEDIA

“Free speech: A European challenge” is the title of a new book by Sokol Balla, well-known journalist and host of a weekly TV current affairs program. The publication is the author’s study on several factors that affect current situation of freedom of speech in the country, especially in the media sector. The study analyzes the situation of freedom of the media in the country against the background of Albanian attempts towards European integration. The study is based on a series of concerns, reflections and proposals of working journalists. The debate on media freedom that the publication addresses revolves around such issues as access to information, media ownership, relations of media industry to politics, and the search for transparency. 

CONFERENCE ON COMMUNICATION ISSUES IN CLOSED INSTITUTIONS

A conference on the topic “Communication inside closed institutions” was organized on October 31 in Tirana, with the participation of relevant state authorities and institutions, academicians, communication experts, civil society, and journalists. The discussion on the conference focused on such issues as the nature of existing communication within closed institutions, media coverage of judicial issues, communication between media, police, convicted, and victims during a penal proceeding, etc. Specific attention was paid to the coverage in the media of court and crime reporting, the status of journalists that cover crime and court reporting, the media functions in closed institutions, the right to complaint as a communication tool, communication through education of minors in juvenile centres, etc. A documentary on the topic of communication inside prisons was also projected during the conference. This conference was organized by Department of Journalism at the University of Tirana and the Open Society Foundation for Albania.


AMI NEWSLETTER - November 2011


SEMINAR ON RUSSIA IN THE GLOBAL CONTEXT AND ITS BALKAN POLICY

The seminar on reporting on Russia in the global context and its policy on the Balkans was organized on November 24 at the Albanian Media Institute with the participation of international affairs reporters. The main aim of the seminar was to introduce the participants to the current role and position of Russia in the global arena, as well as the impact it has on the Balkan countries. Speaker was Gazmend Turdiu, Ambassador, and General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The lecturer focused on the Russian foreign policy by providing a brief background of the historical factors that have shaped this policy, such as its heritage from two empires, the role of the country in World War II, the Cold War and the decreasing influence after the end of the Cold War. Foreign policy was also viewed in the context of losing the economic and armament race, against the background of the NATO enlargement and Russia’s position on the matter. Specific attention was paid to the Russian concept for security and its expansion of borders in order to keep the enemies at bay, referring to such security threats as the separatist movement in Chechnya, terrorism threats in Russia and the Caucasus, the regional problems in the Western part, etc.
The speaker also focused on Russia’s foreign policy in terms of gaining back its influence in a multi-polar world, analyzing especially the cooperation and disagreements with the West and with China and its cooperation efforts with new economic powers, such as Brazil and India, and its relations with the Arab countries, looking for new markets. Russia’s cautious relations with countries of former Soviet Union and the policies on use of energy resources and armament provisions were also analyzed in this respect. The discussion also focused on Russia’s relations with the EU, the promotion of economic relations, addressing specifically Russo-German relations. The speaker also paid special attention to Russia’s special relations with Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece regarding energy issues. Finally, the discussion addressed such issues as Russia’s growing impact on global issues in relation to economic growth, Russia’s membership into World Trade Organization, and the impact on Balkan foreign policy. This seminar was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

TRAINING COURSE ON ACCESS TO INFORMATION ISSUES

A training course on access to information legislation, implementation, and challenges for journalists and the public was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on November 16-18, with the participation of journalists and editors from mainstream media. The participants were introduced to the main aspects of Albanian legislation on this area and discussed the way the law is implemented, its main deficiencies and the existing 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 course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.

POLICY PAPER AND ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON REPORTING DIVERSITY

Journalists and media editors from mainstream media, as well as civil society representatives gathered in a roundtable discussion on November 4, in order to discuss on the main trends and challenges in reporting diversity in the media. For this purpose, AMI had drafted a policy paper, which was presented and discussed in the roundtable. The policy paper on media coverage of diversity was drafted after careful revision of previous work done in this regard, such as minority media landscape studies, media monitoring on ethnic minorities, on sexual minorities, and other issues related to diversity. In addition, since the period of drafting the paper also coincided with the period that the census took place, the paper paid special attention to media coverage of the debate issues surrounding the census. This debate lasted several months, in view of the postponement of the census, and it was a good opportunity to view media coverage of issues related to diversity, especially against the background of a vivid debate on the matter.
In this regard, the paper identified in a summarized manner, but with relevant examples, the main problems of reporting diversity in the media, such as politicization of reporting on minority issues, the neglect in reporting on them, existing stereotypes, lack of systematic coverage, stressing negative aspects instead of positive ones, etc. The paper also draws a brief review of the public broadcaster’s obligations and its work in practice regarding coverage of minorities. The major challenges that minority media in the country faces are also presented. Finally, the paper, underlining the crucial role of the media in reporting diversity as a tool for greater social cohesion, makes recommendations on improvement of professional reporting on minorities. The discussion with the participants also pointed out the numerous reasons and difficulties that lead to the current situation on minority reporting in mainstream media. This event was organized by AMI, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.

TRAINING COURSE ON PHOTOJOURNALISM ETHICS IN THE DIGITAL ERA

A training course on photojournalism ethics in digital era was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on November 1-3, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The course focused on the specific genre of photojournalism, especially on its ethical ramifications against the backdrop of digital technology. The participants were introduced and discussed issues such as photos as a visual medium and a way of conveying the news, along with the potential for manipulating the news. Discussing specific examples, the distinction between documentary photos and news photos was made, along with an introduction to a brief history of photojournalism in the world.
The participants were introduced in detail to the specific ethical issues that arise from use of photos, especially digital ones, in the news, such as intrusion into privacy, distortion of image, minors in photos, stereotypes and prejudices when using photos, disaster photos and human dignity, etc. Using specific photos for these cases, the participants discussed what constitutes the line that journalists should not tread when using these photos. Specific attention was paid to manipulation of photography and the cases when this is permissible. Finally, journalists were introduced to and discussed the ethics of digital elaboration of photography, making the distinction between technical interventions and works that are not allowed from the ethical point of view. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.

CONFERENCE ON INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION

“Integrated communication: concepts, strategies, practices” was the topic of the conference organized by the Department of Journalism and Communication on November 14 at the University of Tirana. The topics discussed during the conference addressed four main areas, such as codes and messages in integrated political communication, media and public relations, features and experiences of integrated marketing, and converged media communication and quality of information. The speakers addressed not only the theoretical aspects of these topics, but illustrated their speeches with specific examples and experiences from such events as electoral campaigns, communication of key political leaders, parliament discussions, marketing campaigns of political forces, specific commercial companies, and media companies. Specific attention was also paid to the impact technology has had on media and communication and the current practices and expectations in this regard.


AMI NEWSLETTER - December 2011


MONITORING REPORT ON EU INTEGRATION COVERAGE IN ALBANIAN MEDIA
 
The Albanian Media Institute carried out a monitoring of the coverage of European integration process in print media for the period October-November 2011. The monitoring analyzed the space devoted to the issues and debate on European integration in the main newspapers in the capital. The monitoring also paid special attention to the main topics that print media covers when writing on European integration of the country. The monitoring report provided an overview of the main trends of the process in the aspect of media coverage and reflection of this process.
 
The monitoring report focused on the factors that influenced this year’s media coverage of the EU integration process, and more specifically, the issuing of the EU Progress Report on Albania. The factors analyzed included the visa liberalization, January 21 events, political deadlock, and the comparison with progress made by other countries in the region. The conclusions of the monitoring report included lack of any hint of Euro-skepticism in the media coverage or criticism towards EU, in spite of ongoing financial and political crisis; improvement of coverage of EU integration efforts from other countries in the region, without any prejudice; projection of EU as a powerful actor in the media; division and politicization of the press in its coverage of EU integration process, especially regarding results of Progress Report; greater coverage and attention to political agenda and conflict rather than integration process in a more positive and constructive note. This monitoring report was carried out by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
ROUNDTABLE ON EU INTEGRATION COVERAGE IN ALBANIAN MEDIA
 
The findings, conclusions and recommendations of a monitoring on EU integration coverage of Albanian media were discussed in a roundtable on December 13, with the participation of journalists, representatives of civil society, academicians, and students. Odeta Barbullushi, expert in EU integration affairs, briefed the participants on the main trends observed during monitoring of print media coverage of EU Progress Report on Albania for 2011. She focused mainly on the topics covered, the space allotted to each issue and the frequency of coverage in the respective newspapers. In addition, she focused on more specific topics presented during the coverage, such as the comparison of Albania to other neighboring countries in terms of EU integration process, the analysis of the impact of the progress report on overall situation for Albanian society, as well as an analysis of the role of EU in terms of negotiating or influencing domestic political forces for greater progress regarding integration. Afterwards, Ilda Londo, researcher at the Albanian Media Institute, gave a more general overview on what have been the main trends in coverage of EU integration process in the media through the years. She focused on issues such as lack of systematic and in-depth coverage, failure to understand the impact of the process and translate it to the reader in the proper and relevant manner, lack of sufficient knowledge of the EU system and institutions, problems of newsrooms in continuous following of the EU integration process, etc. She also addressed the general feeling and public opinion in the country regarding EU integration, by discussing findings of public opinion poll surveys, especially comparing 2010 to 2011, in the context of visa liberalization and the shift of interest and priorities for Albanians.
 
The roundtable followed with discussions from the participants, who presented their ideas and problems with coverage of EU integration process in the media. Some of the main complaints in this regard were the biased and politicized reporting of this topic in the media, rather than public interest-oriented coverage of the whole process; the failure to follow-up on the main steps of EU integration process; absence of reports and experiences from other countries in the region in the integration process, which might be enlightening for the Albanian population; presentation of the integration as something that Brussels wants, rather than as a process that benefits the country first of all, etc. This roundtable was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
MONITORING AND ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON CULTURAL REPORTING
 
Albanian Media Institute organized a roundtable with journalists from both print and electronic media on December 7. The main aim of the roundtable was to present and discuss the findings of a monitoring of four main Albanian daily newspapers and one weekly magazine regarding the coverage of cultural events and issues.  Virgjil Muci, expert on literature and culture, presented the main findings of the monitoring and discussed with the participants the trends of cultural reporting in Albanian media. This monitoring was a comparative one to a previous monitoring that was carried out on the same topic four years ago, trying to map the evolution in coverage of the culture in the media. According to the monitoring, there is increasing attention from media to cultural events and issues compared to four years ago, even though the absence of a genuinely literary or cultural publication continues to be a handicap.
 
Some of the topics discussed included the space devoted to culture in the media, manners of writing book reviews and critical reviews in general, the choice of sources of information, the role of interviews with artists, etc. The discussion focused on the main trends of reporting on culture and on ways of improving on the situation. The speaker stressed the urgent need for specialized critical reviews of different artistic genres and the absence of editorials on culture. The ratio between local culture and global one was another topic that was discussed in the roundtable, along with comparative coverage of culture in different media. Finally, the recommendations drafted based on the monitoring were presented to and discussed with participants. This roundtable was organized by AMI, with the support of the US Embassy.
 
TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING ON CULTURE
 
A training course on reporting on culture was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on December 12-16, with reporters covering art and culture in the mainstream Tirana-based media. The main aim of this course was to introduce young culture reporters to new aspects of covering art and culture, diverse perspectives, and coaching them in reporting in a reader-friendly manner. Some of the topics covered by the lecturers included use of clichés or stereotypes in cultural reporting; the existence of myths in this genre, the reflection of the national identity when reporting on culture and the way that media commercialization affects cultural reporting. More specifically, participants discussed with the lecturers the situation of publication and books in the country, the state policies in this area, and compared Albanian media coverage of books and reviews to foreign ones, discussing specific examples.
 
Another topic of great interest for the participants was the coverage of visual arts in the media, involving the perception of reporters themselves of visual works and their interpretation of these works, both in traditional and modern art. The participants were also introduced to the main policies related to culture of the Albanian government, focusing on the range of challenges that the main national institutions in the country, like theatre, opera, etc, face nowadays. Finally, specific attention was devoted to the coverage of theatre performances by the media, addressing specific approaches a culture reporter can have in this regard. This training course was organized by AMI with the support of the US Embassy.
 
DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO DEFAMATION LAW REVISED AND DISCUSSED
 
In present Albanian legislation defamation is both a criminal and a civil law issue.   The amendments introduced since 2004 to defamation regulation from the Albanian Media Institute and the Justice Initiative were never submitted for approval to the Parliament. The return to normal functioning of the Parliament paved the way for the quick approval of this important amendment.
 
Having in mind the changes that have taken place in the last years, AMI, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders, initiated a new process of revising, lobbying, and discussing amendments to defamation. A group of experts composed of MPs, lawyers, and media experts, worked on revising the Draft, by reflecting the experiences of other countries, especially those of the Balkan region. The revision has also considered the range of problems that has emerged in the last years, especially regarding the development of Internet.
 
The draft has been consulted with international organizations and experts of the Justice Initiative. A group of MPs from both political wings have become familiar with the changes and have expressed their support. Public discussion of these amendments will continue in the future, until they are submitted for approval to the Parliament.
 
UNION OF JOURNALISTS REACTS ON ALLEGED MUNICIPALITY ATTEMPT TO PRESS DISTRIBUTION REFORM
 
On December 13, the head of the Union of Albanian Journalists, Aleksander Cipa, sent a letter to the Mayor of Tirana, Lulzim Basha, regarding the alleged attempt of the city hall to reform the press distribution network in the capital. The Union welcomed any initiative to reform the existing infrastructure of press distribution and sale network in the capital, stating that in the last 20 years it has remained in a miserable state. However, the Union demanded that this new initiative and any attempted reform become fully transparent to the media community and the public. The letter also stated that any such reform would not be complete without receiving feedback and contribution from the media community, avoiding any preferential treatment in this regard. As a reply, the Mayor stated in a letter that the possibility of a new distribution and sale system is being discussed, but there is not yet a specific project or step from the municipality. The letter also added that any such project will be discussed with market stakeholders and actors. The Union also addressed this concern to OSCE Presence in Albania.
 
EU ACCESION INTERPRETED: A TRAINING COURSE FOR JOURNALISTS
 
Based on the findings and recommendations of the monitoring, AMI organized a three-day course with 15 journalists that cover the issues of European integration on December 19-21. During the three days of the course, EU integration experts from several think-tanks, the parliament, and the government, were invited to discuss with journalists on the current status of integration of the country into EU, and on the problems of coverage of this process in the media. On the first day, Ilir Aliaj, expert of European affairs and director of Center for Strengthening and Democratization of Institutions, focused on a brief history of establishment of EU, specifically discussing the different EU institutions, their functioning, role, competencies, and relations with each other. Geron Kamberi, expert of European affairs, currently working at Oxfam Albania, focused on Albania’s relations to EU, analyzing the main steps and key points in EU-Albania relations in the last 20 years.
 
On the second day, Blendi Kajsiu, political scientist, presented the participants with his critical approach vis-à-vis integration, presenting a little-known attitude and trend in Albanian society and media. He presented a brief overview of the existing perceptions on integration’s economic and political criteria, then revealing his criticism of these perceptions, both in the economic and the political areas. Lutfi Dervishi, media expert and director of Transparency International Albania, focused his discussion on relation between coverage of anti-corruption efforts in the media and the impact of integration in this aspect, focusing on EU integration as a driving force for political changes in the country. On the last day, Ilda Zhulali, General Director of European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented the participants with the next steps the country is supposed to make in order to address the findings of the EU’s Progress Report on Albania. On the other hand, Ditmir Bushati, Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on European Integration, presented his own point of view on the Parliament’s role in regard to integration. He focused on the missed chances on EU integration, mainly due to domestic politics and the negative precedents that have been established. This course was organized by AMI, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
 
NEW TEXTBOOK ON JOURNALISM
 
“Journalism: practical and didactic test” is the new textbook on journalism that was published in Albania, written by Stephan Russ-Mohl and translated by Ardian Klosi. The book offers an intertwinement of practice and knowledge in the area of journalism, by addressing the dramatic developments and changes that have taken place in this area in the last years. The author tackles different aspects of a journalist’s work, such as the different genres and work tools, the language used, usage of figures and statistics for a journalist, selecting the information, research, editing, and final presentation to the public. Apart from professional skills of a journalist, the book also addresses the overall management of the newsroom, the different divisions and departments that are there, editorial content and newsroom management, etc. The author also focuses on external factors that influence media content, legal regulation and media rights, ethics and professional norms, etc.
 
NATIONAL TV STATION CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY
 
Top Channel TV, one of the two commercial national TV stations and one of the most popular TVs in the country, celebrated its 10th anniversary on December 20. In this occasion, an evening Gala and cocktail reception were organized. Participants included well-known journalists, media experts, representatives from the foreign diplomatic corpus, politicians, and other personalities. During this event, the annual “Dritan Hoxha” award was given to Kristo Frasheri for 2011, for his contribution to Albanian historiography.

ANNUAL AWARDS FOR ECONOMIC JOURNALISTS

The Union of Albanian Journalists presented economic journalists with the annual “Vangjush Gambeta” awards on December 27. Awards went to Isidor Koti for radio, Laura Cela for press, and Ersuin Shehu for TV reporting. The Union also presented the career awards to well-known journalists Aleksander Furrxhi and Artan Hoxha. It is the third year in a row that the Union grants these awards to journalists.

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