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Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
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Workshops on access to information with local media
Constitutional court rules in favor of removing ownership limitations for national broadcasters
The Constitutional Court issued a press release on May 13, stating that it had granted the request of the Association of Albanian Electronic Media to abolish media ownership limitations in place for the national commercial broadcasters. The request was brought before the Constitutional Court on April 19 by the Association of Electronic Media, which argued that the limitation imposed is not constitutional, as it affects equality before law and the right to property.

This development comes after attempts made last year by MP Balla, and later to some degree also supported by AMA, which sought to repeal the entire limitations on ownership of media shares, namely Article 62 of the Law on Audiovisual Media. After clear opposition from international bodies, the Parliamentary Commission on Media rejected the proposed amendment. The current court decision paves the way for licensing of the existing commercial platforms in their form, along with the national broadcasters that also own part of the platforms.

In July the Albanian Media Institute continued the series of workshops on access to information and local government in the framework of a project that aims to improve transparency and accountability of local government and local public institutions through a more active role of local media and citizens, supported by Lëviz Albania. In this context, four one-day workshops were organized in the cities of Berat on July 7, Gjirokastra on July 13, Saranda on July 20, and Burrel on July 26. Participants in the workshop included journalists from local media and correspondents for national media outlets. The participants became familiar with the rights they are entitled to official information by the law passed in September 2014 and how they could use it to the advantage of their work.
The training included information on the main aspects of the FOIA law, the rights of citizens in applying for information on official documents, and the obligations of state authorities to respond. More specifically, the participants were instructed how to draft information request in the proper manner, in order to avoid direct refusal of official authorities to grant information on grounds of a poorly drafted or invalid request. The next step will be testing of the practices of local government in responding to requests for information, which will be an effort to measure the openness of local government, as well as identify the weak links and good practices in this aspect of governance.
EU Award for Investigative Journalism in 2016 announced in Albania
EU AwardJournalist Alisa Mysliu was awarded first prize in the EU Investigative Journalism Award 2016 for Albania contest, for her cycle of programs on food security, broadcast in Fiks Fare program, on national Top Channel TV. Second prize went to Artan Rama and his team of Publicus program on Vizion Plus TV, for their report on maturity exam procedures. The award for best article by young investigative journalist was given to Elvis Nabolli for his report on the struggle against drugs and the cultivation of illegal plants in Albanian territory, published in Balkan Insight.

Award ceremony was held on June 7th, 2017, at the European Union Info Center, Tirana. A total of 28 investigative stories were nominated for this year's EU Award in Albania, 18 of whom from journalists under 35. Jury consisted of five prominent media professionals and civil society representatives: Rrapo Zguri, professor of journalism and jury chair, Aleksander Cipa, head of Union of Albanian Journalists, Valbona Sulce, media expert and member of Steering Council of public broadcaster, Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, and Adi Krasta, TV personality.

"Freedom of expression and freedom of the media implies a committment to democracy, good governance and political accountability. These are some of prerequisites for a country to become part of the EU and one of the reasons why each of you play such an important role in creating EU standards," said Jan Rudolph, Head of Political, Economic and Information Section announcing the EU Investigative Journalism Awards.

Valbona Sulce, member of the jury, stated that the jury faced a difficult task, given that the quality of nominations was good, covering a wide range of topics that are relevant to the society. In addition, the predominance of young journalists among the nominations received is also a good sign for the future of investigative journalism in the country, she said.

The EU award for investigative journalism was given each year from 2015 to 2017 in each of seven EU-Enlargement countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, rewarding the investigative journalistic work published in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Investigative stories contributing to transparency and reporting on societal issues related to abuse of power and fundamental rights, corruption and organized crime that otherwise would not have been brought to the public's attention will qualify for the award.
South East European Partnership for Media Development Project Concluded
SEE ProjectThe South East European Partnership for Media Development Project ends today, after four years of hard but rewarding work by partners in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. It brought together journalists, media centers and institutes, trade unions, CSOs, academics and policy makers whose combined efforts aimed at the development of independent and accountable media in the Western Balkans.

"It was a tremendous journey. We analyzed the lives of journalists and faced the challenges they face, all over the region. We tapped into positive energies but also hit obstacles more or less visible. We wish we could say that we find the region in a better state than four years ago. This is not the case. The threats to media freedom and independence are even more serious and the need for good, responsible journalism is bigger than ever. Good journalism needs not only good professionals and employers, but also good public, educated and willing to consume and support truth and transparency", said Ioana Avadani, director of the Center for Independent Journalism in Bucharest and project manager.

Under the project, the partners produced two overarching regional studies: one on the labour relations in the media in the region and a second one focusing on media literacy and education. The studies have been discussed at national and regional level by hundreds of journalists and scholars and resulted in policy recommendations. The partners also monitored the freedom of expression in the region and produced a series of studies addressing issues such as the hate speech on religious grounds, the digitalization of the media or the role of social media in setting up the public agenda.

"The project may end, but it will continue to produce results. We raised awareness of issues less addressed, we increased the advocacy capacities of media organizations, we put topics on the public agendas in the countries we worked in. It is important for our work to continue, for more and more stakeholders to join their efforts in protecting the freedom of expression, in all its forms", concluded Avadani.

SEE Partnership for Media Development was implemented by a consortium coordinated by the Center for Independent Journalis, (Romania) and composed of: Albanian Media Institute, Mediacenter for Media and Civil Society Development (BiH), Media Initiatives - Association for Media Development and Promotion of Professional Journalism (BiH), Macedonian Institute for Media (Macedonia), Montenegro Media Institute (Montenegro), Foundation Media Center (Serbia), Media and Reform Centre Nis (Serbia), Media Development Center (Bulgaria). Media professionals from Kosovo and Turkey were also involved. More information about the project is available at: https://seemediapartnership.cji.ro

The Project was co-financed by the European Commission, the Civil Society Facility, Media Freedom and Accountability Programme, Europe Aid/134613/C/ACT/MULTI
AMI concludes project on media and youth
SEE ProjectAMI just concluded the project "Public vis-a-vis TV: Current challenges," implemented during 2017, with the financial support of the regulator, the Audiovisual Media Authority. The project included two components. The first component consisted in organization of four forums in the universities of Tirana, Elbasan, Shkodra, and Durres. The forums featured well-known journalists as guest speakers, who discussed with students the main problems in journalism today, the different factors that affect media production, and the difficulties and challenges of journalism at the current stage.

The second component of the project aimed to collect the opinions and attitudes of youth vis-a-vis audiovisual media, as well as internet and social media, and learn more about their consumption habits. For this purpose a survey with a sample of 500 persons aged 16-18 was conducted in Tirana. The survey revealed that traditional media are no longer that important for this age group, who would rather prefer spending time on Internet and social networks.

According to the survey, the main reason for following traditional media was related to entertainment, rather than information, while the most favorite programs were movies and musical programs. Youth tended to be skeptical vis-a-vis media credibility, while books and schools and teachers remained the most trusted sources of information. The survey findings were presented at a roundtable event organized on December 13. The full survey is available in Albanian here.