Monitoring children coverage in albanian newspapers...
Crime and court reporting...
Education and training
Reporting and privacy...
Reporting on social issues...
Albanian Telegraphic Agency
Balkaweb News Portal
Top Channel TV
Vizion Plus TV ... more
Voice of America ... more
The Albanian Media Institute is presenting you with the Albanian Media Newsletter. This electronic monthly newsletter tries to keep you updated on the developments of the Albanian media and training activities for journalists at the Albanian Media Institute and elsewhere in Albania. We attempt to provide a glimpse on the evolution of the Albanian media landscape, bringing closer to you the media situation in our country, hoping to provide useful information.
TRAINING COURSE ON NEW MEDIA AND LOCAL JOURNALISM
A training course on the topic “New media and local journalism” was organized in Elbasan on January 7-9, with the participation of 14 journalists from the local media. The training course discussed with the journalists the current development of journalism as a profession, addressing the range of problems journalists face, especially in local media. Participants also discussed the emergence and development of new media, its values, challenges, and expectations, focusing on the way the work of journalists has been transformed. The efficacy of new media in testing opinion of citizens and confronting it to traditional sources of information was another topic discussed during the course. The participants also were introduced to the concept of citizen journalist and professional journalist, discussing the differences and opportunities. The lecturer and journalists discussed different ways of incorporating new media in local journalists’ work, such as obtaining new sources of information from the public, making use of opinion of citizens and shaping the reporting, etc. However, the course focused also on the need for local journalists to provide the necessary context and background, independently of the form of publishing or whether the media is traditional or online. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
SEMINAR ON BALKANS AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
A seminar on the topic of Balkans and European integration was organized on January 29-30, with the participation of journalists and editors from print and electronic media. the main aim was to discuss the different stages of development in terms of progress to EU integration from all countries in the Balkans and to analyze common traits and challenges. Specific attention was paid to analysis of current affairs, such as elections in Greece and potential impact on Albania, focusing on the anti-establishment result of voting, the future relation of Greece to EU, and the Albanian-Greek relations. Given the recent events, the lecturers also discussed the situation in Kosovo, focusing on the prolonged government crisis, the relations with the West and the process of negotiations with Serbia. The specific relations of Albania with Serbia and the situation in Macedonia were also discussed against the background of the ongoing processes for EU integration.
The lecturers also addressed in detail the current context of the European Union and is relations with Balkan countries, including the different speeds in the integration process. The discussion was put in the context of a current enlargement fatigue, noting that there are notes of stagnation. The internal problems of Balkan countries also affect the slowing down of this process, along with the sluggish reforms. Specific attention was paid to the position of Serbia in the peninsula, its relations with Russia, and with Kosovo. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
TRAINING COURSE ON DIVERSITY AND ROMA AND EGYPTIAN MINORITIES
A training course on improving diversity reporting, specifically focusing on Roma amd Egyptians, was organized on January 26-28, 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 analysing the reasons for this interest and ways to increase and improve media coverage on Roma.
TV DEBATE ON SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVISM IN SHKODRA
The Albanian Media Institute organized a television debate at the University of Shkoder on January 16. The debate addressed the role of different actors in the democratic process, identified the main obstacles and needs and aimed to raise awareness among the local public opinion on the need for greater activism and participation. Participants in the debate included students, local journalists, and representatives of civil society. The debate focused on subjects such as the role of different actors in catering to local communities, such as civil society and media, the impact of national and local media on local communities, the image of these media in the communities, etc. Specific attention was paid to social media and new civic groups in the local level, attempts at activism for local benefit, etc. The debate was broadcast by local television TV Channel1. The organization of the debate was supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy.
TRAINING COURSE ON SOCIAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL JOURNALISTS
A training course on the topics “Social networks and local journalists” was organized in Lezha on January 14-16, with the participation of 14 local reporters and editors. The aim of the training course was to introduce local journalists to the existing possibilities and practices in the field of social networks as a source of information, or as a way to explore the audience trends. The participants became familiar to the different ways of promoting and publishing media outlets through the social networks, to the establishment of institutional profiles and pages for the media in these networks, to their exploration for news marketing and distribution, by using networks such as Facebook or Twitter as channels for guiding the audience towards their websites with local news. The course also focused on the ethical range of problems that emerges with the social networks, focusing on such phenomena as violation of privacy, identity theft, use of social networks for viral marketing or personal assaults, use of hate speech, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
TRAINING COURSE ON IMPROVING REPORTING OF VULNERABLE GROUPS
A training course aiming to improve reporting of vulnerable groups in the media was organized on January 21-23, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The course focused specifically on reporting issues related to terminal patients and palliative care. For this purpose, lecturers came both from public health field and from the media. Journalists became familiar with the way palliative care is regulated in the country, focusing on public health principles and the existing processes in this field. Specific attention was paid in explaining the principles, objectives, and policies related to palliative care. In addition, participants were briefed on the existing services on palliative care, the organization of these services, and the need to raise awareness on the service. Attention was also paid to the need to raise awareness on the media in this regard, focusing on the needs and policies that surround palliative care, making it part of the public debate. Specific cases reported in the media were analyzed and journalists and experts discussed recommendations on how to improve reporting in this field. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Soros Foundation.
PRESS FREEDOM IN ALBANIA SLIGHTLY IMPROVES ACCORDING TO REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
According to Reporters without Borders, which has recently published the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2015, Albania’s ranking went from 85th in 2014 to 82nd in 2015 out of 180 countries. Comparing the results with last year’s report, media freedom in the most countries of South East Europe is declining, with only three countries marking improvement. Macedonia marked again the lowest ranking, in the 117th position. The Index also noted that Europe has been drifting downwards in the press freedom index for years. It held steady in last year’s index but, overall, it fell again in the 2015 index although the Nordic countries continued to hold the top positions. This general decline reinforces concern about the sustainability of the “European model.”
COURT RULES ON LAWSUIT ON ELECTION OF AMA MEMBERS AND CHAIRMAN
The Administrative Court has rejected the lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party Parliamentary Group. The Democratic Party complained on the process of election of two members of AMA and its chairman, claiming the process was invalid, since the opposition MPs had not participated in the short-listing process, as the law required. In addition, AMA chair was elected before completion of all AMA members vacancies and that several MPs had voted for more than one candidate, the DP lawsuit claimed. The Administrative Court asked for additional acts and documents that would prove their claim, considering the documents submitted incomplete. After the Democratic Party did not submit other documents the court decided to return the lawsuit to the DP Group. Alfred Peza, deputy chair of Parliamentary Commission on Media and representative of the Socialist Party called on his opposition colleagues in early February to start the process for electing AMA’s missing member, but no further steps have been made in this regard.
TRAINING COURSES ON LOCAL NEWS REPORTING
Two training courses on the topic of local news reporting took place in Burrel in February 4-6, and Berat on February 11-13, with the participation of local journalists. The main objective of the courses was to introduce participants to the main facets in the adoption of a local news angle when reporting for local communities. For this purpose the lecturers addressed several issues, such as the specific traits of local media reporting and the specific features of working for a local media, and competition and survival challenges of local media against a backdrop of globalization. The training followed with specific ideas and discussion on how to identify and address the reality at the local level and respond to community interests in reporting, treatment of sources of information, and writing style for local media. Specific attention was paid to interviewing sources of information, challenges of investigative journalism in a small community, writing of features, civic journalism, and challenges of access to journalism in a small community. In addition, the adoption of new technologies in improving local news reporting, as well as the main traits of managing local media outlets were addressed by the lecturers and participants. The courses were organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
TRAINING COURSE ON DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
“Developments in the Middle East and their global impact” was the topic of the training course organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 16-17, with the participation of 15 reporters of foreign affairs. The speakers focused on the developments since the Arab Spring, the impact on the region and beyond. They addressed the different stages of the Arab Spring and the ramifications for the geopolitical relations in the region. The situation in each state involved and the effects were also analyzed. Specific attention was paid to foreign actors to the region, their position on these developments and their involvement. The clash of geopolitical interests within and outside the region were part of the discussion, along with the instrumentalization of religion in the war between actors in the region, paying special attention to the current religious balance in these countries. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
TRAINING COURSE ON SOCIAL NETWORKS AND LOCAL JOURNALISTS
A training course on the topics “Social networks and local journalists” was organized in Lushnja on February 18-20, with the participation of 14 local reporters and editors. The aim of the training course was to introduce local journalists to the existing possibilities and practices in the field of social networks as a source of information, or as a way to explore the audience trends. The participants became familiar to the different ways of promoting and publishing media outlets through the social networks, to the establishment of institutional profiles and pages for the media in these networks, to their exploration for news marketing and distribution, by using networks such as Facebook or Twitter as channels for guiding the audience towards their websites with local news. The course also focused on the ethical range of problems that emerges with the social networks, addressing such phenomena as violation of privacy, identity theft, use of social networks for viral marketing or personal assaults, use of hate speech, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
TRAINING COURSE ON CHINA AND ITS GEOPOLITICS
“China and its geopolitical impact” was the topic of the training course organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 9-10, with the participation of 15 reporters of foreign affairs. The course focused on China’s current economic development and its geopolitical role as one of the major global powers. The characteristics of Chinese diplomacy and its interests were analyzed. Specific attention was paid to the changes in foreign policy of the new political generation, especially in regard to other countries in the Asian region. In addition, the lecturers focused more extensively on relations with other global powers, such as Russia and the USA. The discussion addressed the economic and commercial relations of China with the other powers, analyzing how they affect overall foreign policy and the geopolitical role it has. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the US Embassy.
UNION OF JOURNALISTS’ REGIONAL ROUNDTABLE ON MEDIA AND INFORMALITY
Albanian journalists expressed solidarity over the need to respect their rights at the Journalists Friendship Day meeting in Durres on February 10, in view of the pressure from worsening conditions in the media. The meeting was attended by Albanian, Turkish and Kosovar journalists and focused on labor relations and how to tackle the decades-long unpaid social security of Albanian journalists. Focusing on the worsening media situation, Aleksander Çipa, chairman of the Union of Albanian Journalists, said that over 75 percent of journalists are uninsured and some receive their salaries over 3 months late. The social security of over 1,000 journalists has not been paid for 20 years, even though on paper it appears to have been paid. Çipa called on the government and parliament to take steps in order to find a lasting solution to the issue. During the meeting, Albanian journalists condemned the arrest of journalists and media managers in Turkey, expressing their solidarity.
TIRANA TIMES CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY
Tirana Times newspaper, a weekly published in English, celebrated on February 25its 10th anniversary of activity. Politicians, media representatives, and members of civil society participated in the organized event.
BOOK PRESENTATION ON JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION
The book “Journalism, information, and communication” was presented to journalists and civil society on February 4. The author is Roberto Baldassari, president of Piepoli Institute and professor of journalism. In his presentation the author provided a detailed description of the media communication in our age. He especially focused on the way the work of reporter has changed with the advent of internet and new technologies. He spoke of new forms and model of journalism, such as citizen reporting. The discussion focused on investigative reporting, relations with PR and impact on news, and multimedia reporting. The presentation was organized by Italian Institute of Culture.
EU INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AWARD LAUNCHED
The Albanian Media Institute launched the EU Investigative Journalism Award on March 17 at the EU Info Center in Tirana. Participants included journalists, media experts, university professors, and civil society representatives. They became familiar with the award initiative, the criteria for submissions, practical details for applications, and the general scheme of awarding investigative journalists in the region. Clive Rumbold, Head of Political, Economic and Information section at the EU Delegation in Albania, greeted the initiative to award such a scheme. He emphasized the importance of investigative journalism in a democratic society and reiterated the EU commitment to media freedom as a fundamental value. Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, emphasized the significance of this award in the region, highlighting it as an excellent opportunity for investigative journalists and as a way to support and foster the most valuable and qualitative reporting in the country. Ilda Londo, representative of the Albanian Media Institute, disclosed the details on the application process and the award scheme. The call is a regional initiative led by Peace Institute, Ljubljana, taking place in all countries in the region.
WORKSHOP ON DIGITAL COMMUNICATION
“Workshop on digital communication: maximizing the use of spectrum” was the title of activity that was organized on March 20. The aim of the event was to gather experts engaged in media and electronic communication, representatives of European regulatory bodies and EU representatives, private and public operators and NGOs, to highlight the benefits of the digital switch-over process. The event was also greeted by Prime Minister Edi Rama, Head of EU Delegation Romana Vlahutin, Council of Europe Head of Office Marco Leidekker, and OSCE Ambassador Florian Raunig. The event also aimed to provide a clear overview of current status and challenges faced in the process. The roundtable focused specifically on two sections: digital media and digital mobile telephony. Both the government and representatives of other states or international organizations reaffirmed their commitment to media freedom and independence, as well as fair competition policies and practices that would assist media development. Several representatives from other European countries shared their experience in digital communication. The workshop served for Albanian stakeholders to benefit from the experiences of other countries and to gain a broader perspective on the standards that such a process must fulfill. However, the existing Albanian private digital broadcasters did not participate in the workshop. The workshop was organized by Ministry of Innovation and Public Administration and TAIEX.
PBS SIGNS AGREEMENT TO START BUILDING DIGITAL NETWORKS
Public broadcaster RTSH signed on March 19 the agreement that will pave the way for the building of its two digital networks. The contract was signed by RTSH representatives, the Minister of State for Innovation and Public Administration, and the representatives of Rohde & Schwarz company. The contract was signed after a series of legal disputes. The company was one of the winners of the tender that took place in 2013 and later annulled, leading to legal action from the company. After court decisions and negotiations between the Albanian state, RTSH, and the company, the contract was finally signed. The building of networks is expected to start immediately and in an intensive way, in view of the extreme delays of the process, only three months away from the switch-off deadline.
AMA CHAIR PRESENTS THE ANNUAL REPORT TO MEDIA OUTLETS
Gentian Sala, chair of Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) presented a summary of AMA’s 2014 annual report to media outlets. Sala focused on the range of problems the institution faces and shortcomings from last year, on AMA’s current work plans, and especially on digital switchover process. More specifically, the chairman reported that AMA has had serious shortcomings in carrying out its functions and duties in 2014, facing different problems. According to the report, there have been serious shortcomings in administering the spectrum of frequencies, resulting in illegal occupation and use of this spectrum from audiovisual media operators. In addition, a significant number of operators fails to comply with the legislation (failure to pay financial dues, broadcasting outside their licensed area, failure to meet license obligations, etc.) Another significant deficiency of AMA has been the failure to approve secondary legislation, due to lack of quorum. Sala reported that efforts of the institution in this period have focused on consultation meetings with national operators and cable operators, trying to improve partnership between AMA and the operators. He also said that AMA is working to adapt new regulations to the technological requirements, while also improving the transparency of the institution mainly through re-organization of its website. AMA has also started procedures to establish the new Council of Complaints, as well as the efforts to apply for funding on a project that would modernize the monitoring studio. Sala paid special attention to digital switchover process, in view of the fast approaching deadline and the complexity of the situation. While stating that all efforts are being made to realize this process within the June 17 deadline, he was pessimistic that digital switchover would be completed in all the territory within this date, saying that the aim was to cover the largest urban centers by that time. He mentioned that a significant delay and obstacle has been the process of digitalizing the network of public broadcaster RTSH, which has been blocked for a long time due to lawsuits and delayed negotiations.
RTSH PRESENTS ANNUAL REPORT TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON MEDIA
The Parliamentary Commission on Media convened a hearing session on annual report of public broadcaster Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH.) Martin Leka, acting director of RTSH, briefly presented main activities, challenges, and achievements of year 2014. Among achievements he mentioned the increase in budget size and its management, a more balanced editorial policy of news and current affairs programs, and more diverse and creative programs. He emphasized one of the biggest current challenges, the digital switchover process, which has long been delayed after legal disputes with a tender that started in 2013. Another major concern is the failure to elect the members of Steering Council, which further delays this process, and other ones. The discussions in the commission focused on several related challenges of RTSH, such as area covered with signal, human resources, independence of editorial policy, programming structure with digital switchover, financing sources, and impact of lack of Steering Council. The meeting was boycotted by opposition MPs as a sign of protest for the recent developments in the parliament.
STUDY TRIP FOR JOURNALISTS AT EU INSTITUTIONS
A study trip for a group of ten journalists from mainstream media was organized on March 19-20 in Brussels. The study visit served as an opportunity for the journalists to learn more about the European Union and better understand the process of EU integration. For this purpose, the visits during the study trip included meetings with senior officials from the DG NEAR, in order to discuss Albania's integration process and get acquainted with the work of the Unit for Albania. Apart from the political topics of the meeting, the journalists also had meetings of a technical nature, closer to their work, such as with the representatives of the European Audiovisual Services. After being acquainted with the work done by each institution and office represented and with the current situation in Albania and in the region regarding enlargement, both speakers and participants focused on the main factors that affect Albania’s integration process and the expectations for the future. The study trip was organized by Albanian Media Institute and the Delegation of the European Commission in Tirana.
TRAINING COURSE ON ONLINE MEDIA LITERACY
“Online media literacy” was the topic of the course organized at the Albanian Media Institute on March 23-26, with the participation of journalists and online activists. The participants became acquainted with the notion of media literacy in four main aspects: gaining knowledge on media and its functions, using media interactively, personal creativity in media, and media critique. The lecturer and participants discussed the role of mass media vis-à-vis the public, the education and awareness of the public on media, social media, and new forms of communication, and the degree of existing media literacy efforts. Specific attention was paid to online communication, user-generated content, the emergence of online platforms, the role of social media, and online activism. The participants discussed in details with the lecturer the main trends of online media: interactivity, multimedia, and hypertext, and ways they can incorporate these features in everyday work. The public’s role and contribution to reporting, along with the debate on citizen reporting were also discussed, as well as notions of info-obesity, credibility issues, and ethical problems that emerge with the online activity. The course was organized from Albanian Media Institute with the support of EU.
COURSE ON PROFESSIONAL SKILLS OF INTERVIEWING
Interviewing techniques training was the topic of the professional skills training that took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 9-11, with the participation of 15 journalists from several media outlets. The main objective of the course was to provide journalists with advanced professional skills regarding interviewing techniques, since this is the basic everyday work done by journalists. In the course the participants became familiar with the main steps involved in the process, such as researching the topic or interviewee, determining the main lines of the interview, as well as preparing for unexpected course of the interview or risks that might come up. The kinds of questions asked, the background of the interview, importance of body language, and warning to avoid influence of personal convictions were some other topics covered during the course. Journalists also had sessions of reporting on field, where they were able to practice and improve the skills learned in the course. This training course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.
CONFERENCE ON COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES
The conference “Media Industry; Trends, Dynamics and Challenges” took place in Tirana on March 26-27, bringing together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars from different countries, universities and research centers to exchange and share their experiences and research results about Communication and Media Studies. The themes in the conference included sharing information on research, development, applications of Media industry, Communication Technologies, Social Media, Marketing Communication, Communication Barriers, Media Management and Economics, Political Communication etc. The conference was organized by Hëna e Plotë Bedër University in Tirana, in collaboration with the Department of Journalism and Communication in University of Tirana, Ipek University in Ankara, University of Prishtina and the Union of Albanian Journalists.
REEDOM HOUSE GLOBAL PRESS FREEDOM RANKING
This month Freedom House released its global ranking of freedom of the press all over the world. Albania was ranked 97th out of 199 countries, qualified as partly free. This marked one position up from last year’s rank, when it was ranked as 98th. Out of Balkan countries, it shared the same position with Kosovo, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Turkey. The report stated that a number of countries in the Western Balkans continued to exhibit a worrying pattern of press freedom violations in 2014. These media environments feature several common problems: the use of defamation and insult laws by politicians and businesspeople to suppress critical reporting; progovernment bias at public broadcasters; editorial pressure from political leaders and private owners that leads to self-censorship; harassment, threats, and attacks on journalists that go unpunished; and opaque ownership structures.
PARLIAMENT COMPLETES ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF STEERING COUNCIL OF PUBLIC BROADCASTER
The parliament elected five remaining members of Steering Council of public broadcaster RTSH during the plenary session of April 30. The new members of the Steering Council are: Saimir Kumbaro, well-known movie director, Robert Rakipllari, editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper, Altin Shegani, dean of the Justice Department at the public University of Tirana, Pashk Pervathi, painter, and Artan Peqini, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the public University of Tirana. The election of new members happened after the opposition MPs decided to participate in the shortlisting process, which took place on April 22. The first five members of the Steering Council had been elected on December 4, 2014, only with ruling majority votes, as the opposition MPs were boycotting all parliamentary activities.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TACKLES REGULATION OF ONLINE COMMENTS
The Parliamentary Commission on Legal Affairs, Public Administration, and Human Rights has considered and discussed a draft amendment proposed by opposition Member of Parliament Majlinda Bregu. The amendment proposes to amend Article 617 of the Civil Code, titled “Liability for online publication of comments that infringe on a person's honour, personality or reputation.” The proposed amendment will oblige administrators of electronic portals, including those of the media, to “prevent publication of any comment that infringes on a person's honour, personality or reputation.” Administrators will be held liable both for failing to prevent such publications and for failing to remove online comments deemed offensive. The Parliamentary Commission on Legal Affairs discussed the amendment on April 1, but postponed the discussion for a further date, suggesting also a discussion process and further expertise on this matter from the legal and technical point of view.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO REMOVE OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS OF AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA
A Member of Parliament from the ruling Socialist Party submitted a proposal for amending the Law on Audiovisual Media to the Parliament on April 24. The proposed amendment aims to remove any ownership limitations as stipulated in this law. The amendment suggests that the current limitations posed in the law hinder competition and development of media market, proposing that the Authority on Competition could oversee the situation in this regard, just as with all other businesses in the country. The amendment is expected to be discussed in parliamentary commissions soon.
WORKSHOP AND ADVOCACY TRAINING ON LABOUR RELATIONS IN THE MEDIA
A workshop to discuss the findings of a research report on situation of labor relations in the media was organized on April 1, with the participation of about 30 journalists from Tirana and other districts. The research on employment conditions of journalists was conducted as part of the regional project “South-East European Partnership for Media Development”, implemented by the Centre for Independent Journalism – Romania and supported by the European Commission, coordinated by Albanian Media Institute for Albania . The research aimed to document the social statute of journalists in Albania in terms of labor rights, situation of trade unions or alternative defense mechanisms, economic and political pressures, etc. According to the report findings, the main problems witnessed include lack of work contracts, fictitious contracts, significant violation of contract terms, especially delays in paying the salaries, overtime work, failure to pay social contributions, etc. Ioana Avadani, director of the Center for Independent Journalism in Romania, also addressed the participants, presenting the findings of the research in other countries in the region.
Based on the findings of the report, a two-day training course on advocacy skills followed on April 2-3, with the participation of 20 journalists and trade union representatives. Cristina Lupu, communication expert, shared the Romanian experience in advocacy, discussing with participants techniques they could use to advance their rights. Aleksander Cipa, chairman of the trade union of journalists, focused on current problems in Albania, challenges from institutions and needs of organization of journalists. He discussed with participants particular ways and actions to take in order to improve the situation of labor rights in the media.
TRAINING SEMINARS ON MEDIA AND ELECTIONS
Albanian Media Institute and Council of Europe organized two two-day seminars in Tirana on April 21-24, with the participation of 40 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. Afrim Krasniqi, expert on elections, focused on the evolution of electoral systems in Albania through the years, describing the main advantages, disadvantages, and impact of each on political system. Particular attention was paid to the change of the electoral map, the new administrative system, the way it will affect the outcome of elections, the dynamics between parties, etc. By comparing the current system to previous systems and elections, the lecturer focused on what journalists should expect when reporting. Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, addressed particularly media regulation during electoral campaigns, discussing with participants a potential media code of conduct when covering elections. This discussion was made through practical examples that journalists had experienced during coverage of the campaign. In addition, the legal and other tools used for media monitoring during elections’ coverage of campaign were also discussed during the seminar. Specific attention was paid to the ethical dilemmas that coverage of electoral campaign posed, since pressure on media increases in these periods. Another important aspect discussed was the coverage of polls and exit polls, and what media should do in this regard.
Laurent Royu, media expert, 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. The seminars were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Council of Europe.
TRAINING COURSES ON IMPROVING COVERAGE OF MARGINALIZED GROUPS
Three training modules for three groups of journalists on “Improving the quality of reporting on issues related to three marginalized groups in Albania: LGBT, Roma and people with mental health problems” were organized on 14, 15, 16 April at the Albanian Media Institute. The overall goal was to improve the quality of how journalists covers such stories by exposing and discussing some of the prejudices and misconceptions portrayed in the media today in relation to Roma, the LGBT community and people suffering mental health problems and the impact that these stories have in the life of the members of these groups.
About 50 journalists working for local and national media discussed frequent mistakes being made by journalists, the impact their stories have in the life of the members of these communities, some culture and historic background, as well as concluded with some remedies how to improve future reporting. Trainers were David Whitbourn, journalist and communication expert (UK), Vincent Van Gerven, LGBT activist, and Ledia Lazeri, Director of World Health Organization in Albania. The training were organized by Albanian Media Institute and Council of Europe office in Tirana as part of the Council of Europe regional project Promoting freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media in South-East Europe with voluntary contribution of the government of Norway.
TRAINING COURSE ON OPINION POLLS REPORTING
A training course on reporting of opinion polls was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on April 27-29, with the participation of journalists from print and electronic media. Given the increasingly popular practice of conducting opinion polls, especially related to elections, the aim of the course was to train journalists on how to improve their reporting skills on opinion polls. For this purpose, the journalists were introduced to the main principles of conducting opinion polls, the different methodologies employed for these polls, reporting on polls having in mind the sample and margin of error, continuous polls as opposed to special polls, interviewing methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages, etc. In addition, participants were introduced to the main aspects to have in mind when reporting on polls, such as full coverage of opinion polls as compared to partial, only-results coverage, conveying the results in a public-friendly manner, safeguarding objectivity and professionalism vis-à-vis political interference and interests, debates on opinion polls reporting, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.
TRAINING COURSES ON REPORTING LOCAL ELECTIONS FOR LOCAL JOURNALISTS
Two training courses on reporting local elections were organized with local journalists in Shkodra on April 8-9 and in Korca on April 29-30, in view of the coming local elections of June 21. The main aim of these training courses 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. 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-a-vis community or public interest. Theses courses were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
BOOK SIGNING EVENT WITH WELL-KNOWN JOURNALIST
The Albanian Media Institute and the Albanian Institute for International Studies organized a book signing event with Elez Biberaj, a well-known Albanian journalist, working for many years in USA. He is currently the director of the Eurasia Division of the Voice of America. The books he has published and signed for participants to the event included two works on Albania’s transition period from the early 90s and an analysis of Albania’s alliance with China. Participants in the event included journalists, editors, civil society representatives, academics, etc.
MONITORING REPORT ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF CORRUPTION
A new monitoring report published by BIRN Albania indicates that Albanian media report on corruption on a daily basis but the vast majority of this coverage is dedicated to press conferences and political battle. The report covers a three-month period, analyzing coverage on corruption in three national newspapers and the news broadcasts of three television stations. According to the report, most coverage is in the form of news reports, rather than investigations or analysis. The sources quoted in media coverage mainly come from the public sector and political parties. Albanian media reports primarily on pseudo-events, the report says, with 90 per cent of both newspaper articles and news pieces originating from press statements, political declarations and similar events. Only six per cent of articles and four per cent of TV news pieces were the result of actual events and an even smaller amount were the result of investigations, the monitoring concluded. The report findings were presented and discussed in a roundtable organized on April 16, with the participation of journalists and civil society representatives focusing on media and transparency. The monitoring report was supported by Open Society Foundation Albania.
ROUNDTABLE ON INTERNET AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH
A roundtable on internet and freedom of speech in Albania was organized on April 14, with the participation of media representatives, MPs, civil society, and public institutions focusing on regulation and freedom of expression. Some of the topics addressed included the balance between freedom of expression online and respect for human rights, freedom of speech regulation in Albania, current trends in freedom of the media and regulation, and Albania’s challenges in current internet regulation. Particular attention was paid to trends of regulating internet in Europe and freedom of speech issues, self-regulation potential, blogging as a new way of freedom of expression, and online media situation and ethics. The roundtable came after Parliament is examining the possibility to introduce liability of news portals for comments published by the users, which has started a debate on freedom of expression. The roundtable was organized by Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Council of Europe.
MONITORING ON CASE LAW ON DEFAMATION ISSUES
The Institute for Policy and Legal Studies organized a public event on April 14 to present the findings of a monitoring report on the case law on defamation issues in Albanian courts. Having in mind that defamation was decriminalized by amendments to the Penal Code in 2012 and further regulation was introduced by amending the Civil Code, the monitoring report aimed to analyze the court cases regarding defamation and see if the Albanian courts were acting in accordance with European Court of Human Rights in this area. The findings of the report indicate that the courts have tended to favour freedom of expression over protection of reputation in most cases. In addition, judges seem to increasingly refer to ECHR practice when formulating their decisions, although in some cases these references show that there is not sufficient knowledge and understanding of ECHR practice from the judges. The damages given by judges in most cases seem to consider factors such as the damage caused to reputation and other factors related to the defendant’s conduct. The findings were presented to and discussed with representatives of media, courts, and civil society.
CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION ON PRESS FREEDOM DAY
The conference “From censorship to freedom” took place at the National Library on April 30, in the event of World Press Freedom Day, organized by National Library and the Department of Journalism and Communication at the University of Tirana. The conference aimed to address different realities of media in Albania as an expression of the fight for freedom of expression. The speakers focused on different periods of media history in the country, analyzing media trends in dictatorship and democratic regimes, addressing specific cases, periods, or phenomena. In addition, an exhibition titled “Towards freedom…” was opened, devoted to the different periods of press and its history in the country.
CONFERENCE ON JOURNALISTIC SKILLS AND VALUES IN DEMOCRACY
A conference was organized on April 23 in Tirana on the topic “Journalistic skills and values in democracy.” One of the topics addressed in the conference focused on a recent opinion poll among students about their motivation to study journalism. The survey was conducted in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Serbia. Moreover, the political support for a modern journalistic education as well as ethical aspects were discussed. Afterwards different aspects of journalistic education were discussed in a panel by experts in journalism education from Albania, Croatia, and Bulgaria. Participants included journalists, media experts, academics and students to a conference on professional training and values of young journalists. The activity was organized by the Media Program South East Europe of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
NEW PUBLICATION ON POLITICS AND TELEVISION
“Political publicity on television” is the latest title published by Tirana Centre for Journalistic Excellence, written by Simone Camillo Marchino. The book is an in-depth analysis of the relation between those who govern and the media, focusing on techniques of communication and persuasion used in the media during electoral campaigns and on the blurred border between marketing and politics. The book makes use of theories and empirical analysis of ongoing evolution of electoral campaigns on TV screens, analyzing the patterns of changing communication and the ramifications for democratic societies.
OSCE RFOM URGES PROGRESS ON PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING REFORM AND SAFEGUARDING MEDIA PLURALISM IN ALBANIA
Ending a two-day visit to Tirana on May 12, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović stressed the need to use the current momentum for public service broadcaster reform in Albania. During the visit she also addressed media pluralism and media concentration, especially during the process of digitalization, independence of the broadcast regulator, journalists’ labour rights and Internet freedom. “Like many other OSCE participating States, Albania would benefit from a higher degree of media independence. Politicians and business owners should stop manipulating media and institutions such as AMA and let journalists and professionals do their job professionally and independently for the benefit of the Albanian public,” Mijatović said. She also emphasized the importance of strengthening the public service broadcaster and its independence. In her meetings with senior government officials, RFOM also raised her concern about the proposal to delete the Article 62 of Audio-visual Media Law on services regulating media concentration, and amendments to the civil code that would make website owners legally responsible for online comments. In her meetings with journalists and members of civil society, Mijatović discussed the implementation of the Law on Access to Information, and labour rights of journalists. She also noted the Union of Albanian Journalists’ recent report on social and economic issues faced by the journalists. During her visit, Mijatović met with Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, Minister for Innovation and Public Administration, Milena Harito, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Media Committee, Genc Pollo and Alfred Peza, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA), Gentian Sala and Sami Neza, Chair of the RTSH board, Kristaq Traja, journalists and members of civil society.
UNION OF JOURNALISTS PROTESTS ON LABOUR CONDITIONS
The Union of Albanian Journalists gave a press conference on May 3, in the event of World Press Freedom Day, to protest against the deterioration of social and financial situation of many journalists in the country. The Union described the current labour conditions of journalists and their social situation as intolerable. According to the Union data, out of 23 daily newspapers, only four of them pay the salaries on time, also naming them as dailies Panorama, Gazeta Shqiptare, Shqiptarja.com, and Shqip. The Union also said that out of the 72 television stations in the country, only 10 of them do not experience delays in payment of salaries to the staff, namely public Albanian Radio and Television, Top Channel TC, News 24 TV, A1 Report TV, Klan TV and some local televisions. The other stations have a delay of one to five or six months. The same situation is valid for the radio stations, where 63 of 71 radios do pay salaries with delays of up to five months. The Union noted that online media also presents similar problems. In this context, the Union called on the parliament and government of their obligation to facilitate an environment that protects and encourages media freedom and appropriate labor conditions for media employees. They also demanded a hearing session with the Parliamentary Media Commission on this matter.
CONFERENCE ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Centre of Excellence, in conjunction with the Council of Europe (CoE) Office in Tirana, organized a Conference on “Freedom of Expression and the Media” on May 11. The conference was held on the occasion of Albania’s 20th anniversary of Albania’s CoE membership. Delivering opening remarks at the Conference were Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFOM) Dunja Mijatović, UNESCO Deputy Director General Getachew Engida, Head of the CoE Office in Tirana Marco Leidekker, Chair of the Parliamentary Media Committee Genc Pollo, Deputy Chair of the Media Parliamentary Committee Alfred Peza, etc, and Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute. In his address at the event Foreign Minister Bushati underscored Albanian government’s staunch commitment to the overall improvement of the media freedom legal framework, as a vital instrument for the further democratization of the country.
The conference addressed issues related to freedom of expression and its relation to other fundamental rights, such as the right to faith and religion, focusing on the role of the media in pluralist democratic societies. OSCE RFOM Mijatović said that the world was sliding back in terms of media freedom. She also said that the achievements Albania made in these two decades are great, and that progress is tremendous for a country that had to struggle with the legacy from the previous system. However, she added that there are things that need to move quicker and forward. She referred to what she said was a key point she had addressed in her morning meeting with Foreign Minister Bushati, and that was related to the Audio-visual Media Law amendment submitted by the ruling majority recently. She said she had a clear message for the government and that was the following: the last thing Albania needs at the moment is this amendment, since it can have a very negative effect, long-term, when it comes to media pluralism. According to her, there is a need for politicians and businesses in Albania to let go of media freedom. The same media law amendment was mentioned in his speech by the Head of the CoE Office in Tirana Marco Leidekker, who remarked that the repeal of ownership limitations in audiovisual media “seems to open the door for certain media owners to obtain more national licenses.” He added that the repeal of such regulation should be carefully reviewed.
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON SOCIAL NETWORKS AND MEDIA IN ALBANIA
Albanian Media Institute organized a roundtable on development of internet and social networks and their impact on information and media in the country on May 19. The focus of this Roundtable was analyzing the main trends of online and social media development. Participants in the event included representatives from the online media, including journalists, press freedom advocates, and professors and students. The roundtable introduced the main findings of a research conducted on landscape of online media and especially of social networks in the country, focusing on media use of social networks, production process of online content, interactivity with readers, registration, design, and archiving, etc. Important emphasis was put on human resources and economics of online media in Albania. In addition, the discussion among experts and representatives of online media highlighted some of the main ethical issues that exist in the Albanian online media. It focused on the problems over the use of hate language, discriminatory comments, ethical rules, as well as problems with piracy of content and attribution of sources. Significant attention was paid to the evolving profession of journalist and the way technology and social networks affect professionalism. The research and roundtable were carried out with the support of EU.
TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING LOCAL ELECTIONS FOR LOCAL JOURNALISTS
A training course on reporting local elections was organized with local journalists in Kukes on May 18-19, in view of the coming local elections of June 21. The main aim of the training course 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. 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-a-vis community or public interest. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION
“The agreement” was the documentary movie that was screened for an audience of students, academics, and civil society representatives on May 8 at the University of Tirana, Department of Journalism. The documentary focuses on the difficult process of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, with EU mediation. In 2011, representatives from Serbia and Kosovo met for the first time since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. And the chief European Union negotiator, Robert Cooper, allowed cameras to record the action. The screened documentary showed those delicate talks. The film documents the follies and frustrations the proceedings take and how the three main representatives in negotiations work to try and get consensus, despite the unpopular nature of the talks back in their home countries. National pride and compromise are the keywords, while stakes are particularly high. The movie is about an important historical moment, delving deep into a political process, but without losing track of the quirk details of the protagonists. The movie projection was followed by a round of discussion among participants in the event. The screening was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with Frontline Club.
SERIES OF SEMINARS ON MEDIA CONDUCT DURING ELECTIONS
In view of the local elections on June 21, Albanian Media Institute and OSCE Presence in Albania organized a series of seminars with local journalists on media conduct during local elections. The seminars were organized in Durres on May 12, in Elbasan on May 14, in Fier on May 22, and in Burrel on May 28, respectively. Participants were journalists working in local media and as correspondents of national media. The main aim of the seminars was to improve reporting of media on local elections, in view of the changed electoral Code. In this context, Florian Hobdari, National Electoral Reform Officer at OSCE Presence in Albania, explained the changes to the Electoral Code, focusing on new territorial reform and on the impact it has on electoral outcome. Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, addressed the necessary elements for a professional reporting of elections, with particular emphasis on the role of local media in reporting local elections. Specific attention was paid to professional dilemmas in media coverage of elections, also against the background of the main legal provisions in media coverage of elections.
TRAINING COURSE ON MEDIA LEGISLATION
A two-day course on media legislation was organized on May 28-29, with the participation of judges, law professors, and students of the School of Magistrates. The course focused especially on regulation of defamation in the country and the main trends in court cases, following the decriminalization of defamation after the 2012 legal reform. The lecturers and participants discussed the main defamation cases brought before courts in the last three years, analyzing the court rulings against the background of freedom of expression. The analysis of Albanian cases was viewed as compared to European Court of Human Rights standards and rulings. Specific attention was paid to the levels of fines that courts impose and whether they are set at reasonable levels. The participants also discussed in particular the new proposed amendments to Civil Code, aiming to regulate defamation and reputation damage in online media, which is currently regulated. They discussed the effect this might have on freedom of expression, as well as the need to balance this freedom through media self-regulation. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.
PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION POSTPONES HEARING SESSION ON AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA LAW AMENDMENT
The Parliamentary Media Commission had planned a hearing session with the members of the Audiovisual Media Authority on September 30. Due to the absence of all MPs of ruling majority, the hearing session did not take place and was postponed to a later date. The hearing session concerned regulatory authority AMA’s opinion on the amendment proposed by Taulant Balla, MP of the Socialist Party, on removing ownership limitations contained in Article 62 of the Law on Audiovisual Media. After the failure to hold this hearing session, an opposition MP issued a statement for the media stating that it was not acceptable that the ruling majority MPs propose such a hearing and then fail to attend it. He said that currently the process is delayed and deadlocked, and that AMA should have given the licenses by this time, as the deadline of 60 days is over.
The proposed amendment was submitted to the parliament in April, while on May 8, with the initiative of four members of the Commission, coming jointly from ruling majority and opposition, it was decided to seek the assistance of OSCE, European Commission, and Council of Europe before making a final decision on the proposed amendment and a recommendation for voting in plenary session. In the latest meeting of the Commission, on September 21, the Commission tried to discuss the opinions received on this matter. The ruling majority MPs suggested that AMA chair should be heard, too, and potentially other actors that might be involved.
TV CREW THREATENED
The newsroom of News 24 TV reported on September 29 that a threatening SMS had been received in one of the mobile phones belonging to the newsroom. The message targeted Artan Hoxha, journalist and host of the program “Xhungel” at News 24 TV, and his cameraman, Ervin Daja. The message was related to a program the TV aired recently on the existing fields of cannabis in Devoll, in South-Eastern Albania. The message received, published in the media, warned the journalist and the cameraman that they would pay it for every cannabis root destroyed, addressing also threats to their families. The message was sent by a Dutch phone number. The TV station reported this to the police and prosecution has started an investigation. Hoxha is not unknown to threats and pressure due to his work, which for many years has focused on investigating crime reporting. The Union of Journalists issued a statement that condemned the threats and pressure and expressed solidarity, while calling on authorities to investigate and guarantee press freedom in the country.
Thomson Reuters Foundation organized a photojournalism training course at the Albanian Media Institute that mentored a group of young photojournalists coming from Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and Romania for a three-day Professional Photojournalism Masterclass on September 21-23. Trainers included Thomas Szlukovenyi, a well-known photojournalist who has served as head of Reuters Pictures, and Timothy Large. The masterclass focused in depth on the business of photojournalism. The course focused on the question: How can quality photojournalism survive when many media outfits consider "good enough" pictures to be, well, good enough? Held over three days, the masterclass covered an array of subjects, from how to photograph conflicts, sports, business and fashion to copyright issues and ethics. Participants also wrestled with the whys of photojournalism and ethical dilemmas encountered on the job. Other questions included: Should photojournalists also be videographers? What exactly is multimedia? What makes a great photo story? How can news agency photographers balance the daily need to “feed the beast” with creative work that stands out from the pack? Can, and should, photojournalism be "artistic"? The class was combined with practical exercises, with journalists going out on the streets and shooting photo stories.
WORKSHOPS ON GENDER REPORTING
Two workshops on gender reporting were organized at the Albanian Media Institute, on September 8-10, and on 15-17, with the participation of 20 journalists covering social issues in print, electronic, and online media for each workshop. The workshop focused on the need to improve reporting on gender equality in the media. The trainers provided a summary of existing international and national legislation on gender equality and discussed ways of reporting this matter in the media. Specific attention was paid to the coverage of domestic violence, since this is one of the most covered phenomena in Albanian media, discussing ethics, public interest in coverage of these events, the need to raise awareness, etc. The trainers discussed with participants also ways to positively cover gender equality, analyzing specific case studies of media coverage. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.
PUBLICATION ON RADIO AND ITS RELATION TO INTERNET
“Radio, its symbiosis with internet,” is the latest publication of Albanian Media Institute, authored by Arben Muka, well-known radio journalist. The book is an attempt to delve into the way that radio broadcasting functions in Albania, to identify and analyze the most important aspects of this section of the media market. The book analyzes several elements that directly and indirectly influence the development of this section, such as technology, broadcasting potential and signal coverage, human resources, media content produced, legal framework and influence of regulatory authority, economic and financial activity, etc. The book also addresses online presence of radio broadcasting and the use stations make of Internet, with particular attention also to public broadcaster and the challenges digitalization poses.
REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON LABOR RELATIONS IN THE MEDIA
A regional conference on labor relations in the media was organized in Tirana on October 29-30. The conference brought together more than 50 media editors, journalists, trade union representatives, and civil society members dealing with labor rights and media, as well as representatives of international organizations focusing on media rights. The main aim of the conference was to present the main findings of a regional research on labor conditions of journalists and media employees, as well as expand the discussion to include other actors that are involved and can affect the situation. The topics of discussion included such issues as current situation and main challenges in labor relations in the media, difficulties in contracts and in respecting the terms of payment, freedom of journalists to report without endangering their job, etc. Specific attention was paid to online media as the new and often problematic field in terms of labor rights, and the other kind of workers in the media field. The ability of journalists to organize and the problems in this field were another main trend addressed during the conference, discussing also any potential initiative or solution in the future. The whole discussion was made in the context of changing patterns in journalism in the framework of new technologies. At the end a set of recommendations was drafted that can be followed in the future. The conference is part of the South-East European Partnership for Media Development Project, which supports the development of independent and accountable media in the Western Balkans, led by Center for Independent Journalism in Romania, and supported by European Union.
WORKSHOPS ON GENDER REPORTING
Two workshops on gender reporting were organized at the Albanian Media Institute, on September 29-October 1, and on October 6-8, with the participation of 20 journalists covering social issues in print, electronic, and online media for each workshop. The workshop focused on the need to improve reporting on gender equality in the media. The trainers provided a summary of existing international and national legislation on gender equality and discussed ways of reporting this matter in the media. Specific attention was paid to the coverage of domestic violence, since this is one of the most covered phenomena in Albanian media, discussing ethics, public interest in coverage of these events, the need to raise awareness, etc. The trainers discussed with participants also ways to positively cover gender equality, analyzing specific case studies of media coverage. The workshops were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.
DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION
“The agreement” was the documentary movie that was screened for an audience of students, academics, and civil society representatives on October 15 at the University of Elbasan, Department of Journalism. The documentary focuses on the difficult process of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, with EU mediation. In 2011, representatives from Serbia and Kosovo met for the first time since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. And the chief European Union negotiator, Robert Cooper, allowed cameras to record the action. The screened documentary showed those delicate talks. The film documents the follies and frustrations the proceedings take and how the three main representatives in negotiations work to try and get consensus, despite the unpopular nature of the talks back in their home countries. National pride and compromise are the keywords, while stakes are particularly high. The movie is about an important historical moment, delving deep into a political process, but without losing track of the quirk details of the protagonists. The movie projection was followed by a round of discussion among participants in the event. The screening was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with Frontline Club.
TWO SEMINARS ON GENDER PORTRAYAL IN MEDIA
Two seminars on gender portrayal in the media were organized on October 21, and October 27, respectively. The seminars brought together journalists covering social issues and representatives of civil society dealing with human rights and gender issues. The topic of the seminars was “Media and Women NGOs: How media and NGOs work to address women issues.” The seminars served as a platform of discussion where both the media and civil society actors covering gender issues discussed the existing problems in communication between one another, addressing also potential solutions. In the framework of the seminars the participants also became familiar with the findings of a monitoring of how gender is portrayed in the media, what are the main problems, shortcomings, and how they can be overcome. In addition, participants also discussed the various aspects of work done by women NGOs in the country, the progress through the years, the main programs, the difficulties, challenges, and sometimes failures in this field. Both media and civil society representatives discussed their challenges, lack of information and difficulties in communication, highlighting the need to improve the communication and reporting in this area. The seminars were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.
EU PROGRESS REPORT ON ALBANIA 2015
The EU Progress Report on Albania for 2015 noted that progress on audiovisual policy has been slow. The regulator’s work has been hindered from lack of quorum of its members after legal dispute the opposition started on election of new AMA members in 2014. The report also stressed the delay in digital switchover, where the deadline of June 17 was not met, recommending that substantial efforts should be made in this respect. “This also applies to the delayed digitization of the public service broadcaster (RTSH), which needs to speed up preparations to ensure that networks can host its programmes and those of local operators,” the report stated.
With regard to freedom of expression, the report referred to a few cases involving threats to journalists, which, though rare, remain a cause for concern. The report also mentioned that although there have been no cases of defamation brought by politicians against journalists, more should be done to guarantee proper implementation of amendments on defamation. In addition, the new amendment proposed to hold administrators of news portals liable for filtering comments that offend human dignity was considered that might impose undue limits on freedom of expression. Similarly to last year, the report stressed that the transparency of hidden media ownership and of media financing remains problematic. “Concerns remain over the distribution of state advertising and public funds to media and business owners close to the government, as this affects fair competition among media businesses,” the report stated. According to the report, lack of organization of journalists and poor implementation of the labour code for both full-time journalists and freelancers is an issue of major concern.
GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINALIZE DEFAMATION AFTER HEAVY CRITICISM
The Council of Ministers proposed new amendments to the Penal Code, which aim to criminalize again defamation and grant specific protection against defamation to high public officials. If adopted, the proposal by the Council of Ministers would introduce prison terms of up to three years for “libel against a high state official or elected person”. The proposal followed remarks made by Prime Minister Edi Rama in a plenary session in parliament on February 12 that he was examining the possibility of reverting to criminal regulation of defamation. His speech addressed the political debate in the parliament, where continuous verbal assaults and exchange of charges between political rivals has become the norm. The news on this amendment sparked instant reaction and opposition from media community and there were calls for protests from heads of associations. Expert opinions submitted to the parliamentary commission considered the initiative a hasty one, with technical shortcomings and with a very negative impact on many aspects related to freedom of expression. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović also expressed concern about the draft amendment and called on members of the Parliament to reject the bill which establishes imprisonment as a penalty for libel against public figures. “Public bodies and officials should not enjoy additional protection from critical speech, on the contrary they should tolerate a larger degree of criticism than ordinary citizens,” Mijatović said. “Criminal sanctions for libel or defamation are excessive and disproportionate. They should be replaced by effective and appropriate civil or administrative law remedies.”
The pressure from media, civil society, and international organizations led to a statement of the Minister of Parliamentary Relations on government’s intention to reformulate the amendments. The Prime Minister also reacted by saying that the amendment did not target media at all, but rather the political defamatory speech.
MEDIA DEVELOPMENT FORUM
The Media Development Forum was organized on November 20 with the participation of representatives of media, relevant authorities and institutions, academics, and civil society. The main aim was to discuss the current situation in relevant media fields with the different stakeholders and examine a way how this event, which could become an annual tradition, can help to address the challenges media professionalism faces in the country. Addressing the opening of the forum, the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Florian Raunig, said that, at the moment, in Albania, there is a serious imbalance between well-developed commercial TV stations and a marginalised national public service broadcaster. Talking about the employment situation and social position of journalists, Raunig said that many journalists remain unprotected not only vis-à-vis their employers, but also against outside pressure and influence. The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, Ambassador Romana Vlahutin, said that freedom of speech is a key indicator of a free society and a functioning democracy. Vlahutin added that the rights and the wellbeing of journalists should be a central part of our discussion about free media. Minister of Innovation and Public Administration Milena Harito said that there is still much to be done to develop the Albanian media. According to her, the co-operation of all players involved in this sector was needed to achieve this goal. The Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Media, Genc Pollo, said that the public service broadcaster must be strengthened also to counterbalance private TV channels.
The forum was developed along four main topics and separate panels, namely: the transformation of public broadcaster into a public media, journalists’ rights and labor conditions, digital switchover challenges, and professional standards and media freedom. The concluding panel of the forum summarized the main findings, and topics of discussion and relevance that came out of the forum. It was agreed that a media task force coordinated by OSCE with participation of AMI, Department of Journalism at Tirana University, Union of Journalist, BIRN, AMA, RTSH etc. could be established to address current problems and challenges of the Albanian media. The forum was organized by OSCE, with the cooperation of the above-mentioned organizations and institutions.
MEDIA COMMISSION REJECTS AMENDMENT ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP
The Parliamentary Media Commission decided to reject the amendment proposed by Taulant Balla, MP of the Socialist Party, on total removal of ownership limitations contained in the Law on Audiovisual Media. The decision came on its meeting of November 2, after several discussions. While the opposition had been clearly against such amendment, at the end the ruling majority MPs seemed to have come to the decision to refuse such an amendment and vote against its approval and sending it to be voted in plenary session. The MPs from the ruling majority said they had considered the feedback received from OSCE, European Commission, and Council of Europe.
CONFERENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA USE
A conference on social media use by traditional media was organized on November 10. Participants included journalists, professor of journalism, civil society activists, and media experts. The media representatives came from both traditional and online media. The conference was opened by Remzi Lani, Director of AMI, who stressed the importance of continuing to research this topic in order to see the trends. Frank Hantke, director of FES Office in Tirana, also addressed the participants, highlighting that in spite of developments, the importance of good journalism as a public interest good, especially investigative journalism, remains an unchallenged value. The findings of the research on social media use by traditional media were presented to the participants. The empirical research focused on monitoring the most widely used social media in Albania, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and the blogosphere, as well as the six leading online media in Albania from August 2014 to August 2015.
The presentation was followed by discussions related to the use of social media in the media and to a more general approach on the quality of journalism and how these developments have affected such quality. One of the main traits discussed was the lack of certified data on media performance, which was closely linked to general lack of media transparency, even in the case of results from Google Analytics, which the media do not disclose. Another common concern that was mentioned was the tendency to copy-paste, from one media to the next. This was evident for traditional, online, and social media, at the same scale, which leads to many media, but poor choice of information, or even worse, the same wrong information multiplied by several media. Finally, the discussions evolved in general on the current state of journalism, and the poor quality in terms of public interest stories, concluding that journalism is increasingly pervaded by political and economic interest, often being an extension of politics or businesses. The conference was organized by AMI, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
CONFERENCE ON DIGITAL SWITCHOVER
“Digital switchover: challenges, paradoxes, expectations” was the topic of the conference organized on November 25 in joint cooperation of the regulator, Audiovisual Media Authority, with the Department of Journalism at the University of Tirana. The conference aimed to present the research work of the department of journalism and the viewpoints and experience of institutions whose work focuses on digital switchover, such as the regulator and the Ministry of Innovation and Public Administration. Some of the topics addressed during the conference included the role of public broadcaster in digital switchover, the licensing criteria for digital switchover, the future trends in digital broadcasting and its impact on media landscape, analysis on current market trends, licensing and monopoly risks, challenges in regulating this environment, etc. Apart from digital switchover, specific attention was also paid to digitalization and its impact on journalism content and the public’s information and awareness on digital switchover process. Speakers from other countries also shared their experience on digital switchover.
PROJECTION OF “1989” DOCUMENTARY MOVIE
“1989” was the title of the documentary movie projected to an audience of students, academics, and civil society representatives on November 20. “1989” is a creative documentary and a high-politics drama about the collapse of the Iron Curtain. A young technocrat, Miklos Nemeth, becomes Hungary's new prime minister to save the country's appalling economy. He decides to remove the expensive border control apparatus from the state budget. A young couple from East Germany is encouraged by the rumors that the Hungarian border to Austria will be opened and decide to make a go for it. But Nemeth's decision has set him up against formidable adversaries and communist hardliners. The young couple are caught up in the political power-game, and the young man is shot dead at the border. This tragic event paradoxically accelerates Nemeth's final decision to open the borders, and soon after the Berlin wall falls. The projection of the documentary was followed by a discussion with the audience on the movie, the transition period, and the events and ideas highlighted in the documentary. The screening was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with Frontline Club.
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AND MEDIA COVERAGE OF TERRORISM
Albanian Media Institute organized a meeting with journalists from print, online, and audiovisual media on November 27, with the aim of discussing the influence of the war in Syria and terrorism on Albanian society and its media coverage. Invited speakers to this event were Aleksandra Bogdani and Flamur Vezaj, winners of the first prize of the EU Investigative Journalism Award in Albania for 2014, as well as Lutfi Dervishi, chair of the jury and media expert.
The two journalists shared with the participants their experience and the process that led to the writing of the series of three articles on Albanians going to fight to Syria and their recruitment process. The discussion addressed the numerous facets that media has to consider when reporting on terrorism, such as the historical background on development of Islam and its recent radicalization in Albania, the importance of using official sources and documents, the need to contextualize the stories, the importance of giving a human face to these threats and developments, as well as the ethical aspect of reporting on people that seem to be indoctrinated and radicalized. The journalists spoke of the process they followed in detail, ranging from anonymous official sources and information to attempts to contact the persons returned from Syria or their family members.
Apart from the specific case, the present journalists also focused on the issues that plague the development of investigative journalism in the country, such as shortage of newsroom staff, lack of time and resources, competition pressure, and general tabloidization of the media in the country. However, the discussion also evolved on new topics and techniques that can be explored in order to refresh and reinforce investigative journalism in the country.
“THE AGREEMENT” DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION
“The agreement” was the documentary movie that was screened for an audience of students, academics, and civil society representatives on November 5 at the University of Durres. The documentary focuses on the difficult process of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, with EU mediation. In 2011, representatives from Serbia and Kosovo met for the first time since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. And the chief European Union negotiator, Robert Cooper, allowed cameras to record the action. The screened documentary showed those delicate talks. The film documents the follies and frustrations the proceedings take and how the three main representatives in negotiations work to try and get consensus, despite the unpopular nature of the talks back in their home countries. National pride and compromise are the keywords, while stakes are particularly high. The movie is about an important historical moment, delving deep into a political process, but without losing track of the quirk details of the protagonists. The movie projection was followed by a round of discussion among participants in the event. The screening was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with Frontline Club.
ANNUAL JOURNALISM AWARDS
The Union of Albanian Journalists organized an award ceremony in Prizren on November 14, celebrating also its 10th anniversary. In this occasion, 10 awards were handed out to journalists from Albania and Kosovo. The career awards were given to Behlul Jashari, Zenun Celaj, and Besnik Dizdari. The annual prize “Vangjush Gambeta” for best economic reporting was given to Ola Xama, Parim Olluri, Laura Prapaniku, and Kreshnik Kucaj. Meanwhile, journalists Engjell Serjani and Flutura Tota were awarded with the special prize, and journalist Lindita Cela was given the “Journalist of the Year” award.
PROJECTION OF DOCUMENTARY ON CARTOONISTS
“Cartoonists- Foot Soldiers of Democracy” was the title of the documentary projected to an audience of students, academics, and civil society representatives at the Academy of Film and Multimedia Marubi on December 10. The film weaves together the portraits of 12 cartoonists from countries as varied as China, Burkina Faso, Russia, Palestine, Israel, the United States and France. By exploring and contrasting their work and experiences, the documentary manages to suggest something about the necessity for the artists' kind of disarming and often hilarious form of journalistic commentary and how a lot of world leaders are so acutely aware of the power cartoonists wield that they are frequently censored. The documentary has been realized in 2014, before the events of January 2015 at the Charlie Hebdo newsroom. Having this in mind, the discussion also focused on the change of meaning and impact of the cartoons and freedom of expression after Charlie Hebdo events. The screening was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with Frontline Club.
TRAINING COURSE ON REPORTING OF CHILDREN
Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with the regulator, the Audiovisual Media Authority, organized a two-day training course on December 16-17. The training course focused on improving reporting of children in audiovisual media. Participants were 20 journalists that cover social issues at the main television stations in the capital. The main aim of the course was to introduce journalists to the main topics, angles, and ethical considerations to have in mind when reporting on minors. Lecturers were professors at Department of Journalism, media experts and well-known journalists, and representatives of NGOs dealing with children issues. Some of the main topics addressed during the course included discussion of new topics that have not been covered on children, legislation in place protecting children, legal issues to have in mind when reporting on children, ethical considerations when interviewing them, etc. Specific attention was paid to audiovisual media legislation requirements and the existing bylaws and regulations on coverage of children in audiovisual media. Participants discussed with lecturers specific examples and challenges they had had during their work.
PUBLICATION OF MONITORING ON GENDER PORTRAYAL IN THE ALBANIAN MEDIA
“Gender portrayal in the Albanian media” is the title of the latest Albanian Media Institute publication. The publication contains the results of media content monitoring on cases related to gender. The purpose of the monitoring was to analyze the portrayal of gender and gender equality in the media and coverage of issues related to gender in the media. The research was based on empirical data collected from the press and the main television stations and online media, case studies and text analysis. The monitoring concluded that media discourse about gender equality in Albania is at the margins of public discourse and portrayal of women in politics focuses more on their appearance, rather than ideas and vision. Coverage of gender issues is often sterotypical and sexist tones are widespread. The publication also included recommendations for the media on improving gender portrayal. The publication is part of a project implemented by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of UNESCO.
PROJECTION OF “1989” DOCUMENTARY MOVIE
“1989” was the title of the documentary movie projected to an audience of students, academics, and civil society representatives at the University of Shkodra on December 4. “1989” is a creative documentary and a high-politics drama about the collapse of the Iron Curtain. A young technocrat, Miklos Nemeth, becomes Hungary's new prime minister to save the country's appalling economy. He decides to remove the expensive border control apparatus from the state budget. A young couple from East Germany is encouraged by the rumors that the Hungarian border to Austria will be opened and decide to make a go for it. But Nemeth's decision has set him up against formidable adversaries and communist hardliners. The young couple are caught up in the political power-game, and the young man is shot dead at the border. This tragic event paradoxically accelerates Nemeth's final decision to open the borders, and soon after the Berlin wall falls. The projection of the documentary was followed by a discussion with the audience on the movie, the transition period, and the events and ideas highlighted in the documentary. The screening was organized by Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with Frontline Club.
To subscribe/unsubscribe/comment/suggest, please send a message to: : email@example.com
Albanian Media Institute
Rr. Gjin Bue Shpata, No.8
Phone/fax: ++ 355 4 2229800
++ 355 4 2267084