A challenging, but a highly-needed project

Event date: 
Tue, 2013-04-30 11:00

Participants of the national consultation in Albania provide feedback on the initiative for the SEE Media Observatory.

Representatives of media industry, media regulators, and academicians engaged in media studies, along with organizations working in media development gathered on April 30 in Tirana to discuss the new regional initiative “South East European Media Observatory: Building Capacities and Coalitions for Monitoring Media Integrity and Advancing Media Reforms”.

The participants welcomed the idea of such an initiative, stressing that the attempt to have an all-encompassing project in terms of research is badly needed in the Albanian context. “For years we have drafted media policies, with an absence of real data to back up the policies,” said Valbona Sulce, professor of journalism at Albanian University. Almost all participants pointed out that the lack of data on media market, newspaper circulation, audience measurement, and advertising, has turned into a real problem for the further professionalization of Albanian media. In addition, some of them added that this absence of data might be a problem during the research process.
Some of the participants suggested that the trend of traditional media losing slowly their role as the main source of information to new media should also be reflected in the research project. “The influence of blogs and other personalized sources of information has increased in Albania, and there is certainly a diversification of information trend going on here,” said Blendi Salaj, founder of one of the first news websites, adding that the project should reflect this trend, given that it is a long-term project.

The participants agreed that as wider involvement of stakeholders as possible during the whole project was key to the success of the project. Especially considering that “following the money” was one of the methods that would be used in research, expanding the list of stakeholders to advertising agencies and other actors that have perhaps been missing in previous studies, would be essential for the project.

When focusing on grant-giving for investigative reporting, Aleksander Cipa, the chairman of trade union of Albanian journalists pointed out the establishment of new association of investigative reporters, which could be involved in the project. In addition, several participants also suggested new sources of work in progress that could be useful for the project research, expressing the desire to share the information during the research process.

Overall, the participants said this was a much-needed, but also ambitious project, highlighting the need to have proper standards for monitoring, which would fit all countries, as well as establish a wide consensus among stakeholders on different stages of implementation. Remzi Lani, director of Albanian Media Institute, thanked all the participants for the valuable feedback and expressed the wish to further collaborate with them during the project implementation.