Presentation and debate on media integrity in Albania

Presentation and debate on media integrity in Albania

Albanian Media Institute organized on October 31 the promotion of the research "Media Integrity Matters," followed by a roundtable discussion with journalists, editors, and civil society representatives. Ilda Londo, author of the Albanian report, summarized the main findings, focusing on the major risks to media integrity. The Albanian study noted that despite the progress that has been made, it seems that the risks to media integrity are numerous and visible. These risks include mainly the lack of transparency of media funding and of business practices, a weak public broadcaster, and the dominance of political and private interests over public interests in developing and implementing media policies.

Apart from the introduction of the research and its conclusions, two main speakers addressed the event. Aleksander Cipa, chairman of the trade union of journalists, spoke on the difficult economic situation of Albanian media, the financial crisis it is going through, and the impact it has on status of journalists. He focused on the weak implementation of the labor relations, the lack of legal protection for journalists within their media, the frequent delays in salaries, and the inability of journalists to organize to change the situation. According to Cipa, the economic crisis in Albanian media has deepened and the informality in labor relations has worsened. He also provided data to support these statements, from which resulted that in 90% of the media outlets the journalists experience delays in receiving salaries in a repeated manner. As a result of this situation, 176 journalists have lost their jobs this year, or have quitted after repeated failure to receive salaries for their work, he said. As a result, the integrity of journalists in Albania has weakened and they are misused for economic and political interests, said Cipa.

Afterwards Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, built on the difficulties journalists face in their everyday work to sketch his own view of professionalism of journalists today. He focused on issues such as PR and journalism, who sets the public agenda, technology and journalism, and the compromises and choices that journalists make every day. Dervishi addressed the quality of media reporting for the public vis-à-vis reporting for other interests. He said that the great number of existing media manage to guarantee that the truth comes out in the end for the public, but if we follow the true principles of reporting for the public interest, the situation should be much more different. Indeed, he added that this great number of existing media outlets, while providing diverse information, does not necessarily always manage to guarantee quality of reporting or independent, public-oriented reporting. Finally, he highlighted the role that public media is supposed to assume as a champion of public interest, while recognizing the range of difficulties and factors that hinder the realization of such a role.

The participants also provided their own feedback on the study and discussed the current media situation in the country. They focused on matters such as the role of the owners, the way hierarchy within the newsrooms influences content, and professional level of journalists, including compromises. Special attention was also paid to the way media reflects the overall social and economic background in the country, especially clientelism and informality. Finally, the need to regulate labor relations was also a recurring theme within the discussion, along with the strengthening of media regulators.