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Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
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Study trip of Albanian journalists to Serbia
A regional forum on ethical reporting of diversity and ethical guidelines on coverage of vulnerable groups was organized in Elbasan on January 28. Participants included local journalists, correspondents for national media, local government representatives and civil society organizations working in the region. The forum was organized as a platform of discussion between media on one hand, and local government and civil society, on the other hand, assessing the quality of media coverage of vulnerable groups in the media. The discussion focused on specific local cases, but a presentation of the Assessment Report on Media Coverage of Vulnerable Groups was also made, as a starting point for the discussion.

The forum served as a way of exchanging opinions, concerns, and ideas on media coverage of these groups with journalists, local government, and civil society. The participants in the forum also identified ways of improving the information reflected in the media by broadening the pool of sources of information and contacts to local government services and civil society services to vulnerable groups. Finally, the forum paid special attention to the ethical guidelines drafted for coverage of vulnerable groups, discussing specific cases and ways of improving media coverage from the ethical point of view. The forum was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Soros Foundation.
Regional forum on diversity in Elbasan
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.
Roundtable on improving transparency of government information and of media funding
BookA roundtable on the topic of transparency of government and of its media funding was organized on January 13. Participants included journalists from mainstream media, civil society representatives, and officials from public institutions. The aim of the roundtable was to discuss the current problems in transparency of use of public funds for the media and the main practices in this field, as well as identify potential recommendations for improving the situation. During the roundtable the findings of a flash report on state-media financial relations were presented. The findings focused on main practices in distributing government ads, the role of advertising agencies, the selective transparency vis-a-vis media businesses, the problems with labor relations in the media, etc.

In addition, during the roundtable the results of the testing of the new law on freedom of information were presented, in an exercise that involved obtaining information on government advertising in the media through FOIA requests. The discussion with the participants highlighted the problems in implementing this law and the main trends in lack of government transparency vis-a-vis media and citizens, the way this affects media practices, the role of the Commissioner for Right to Information, etc. The activity was part of the advocacy component of the South East Europe Media Observatory project, funded by EU.
A study trip for five Albanian journalists and editors was organized on January 26-27 in Belgrade, as part of an exchange initiative between Albanian and Serbian journalists. During their visit they had several meetings with journalists, representatives of civil society, business, parliament, politicians, etc. The exchange aims to better know the realities of both countries, to expand the contacts between media professionals and to improve reporting neighbors in the region. For this purpose, the meetings of Albanian journalists in Belgrade included representatives from civil society, such as Sonja Biserko from the Serbian Helsinki Committee, Sonja Licht, from the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, and Dusan Janjic from the Forum for Ethnic Relations. The meetings with civil society focused on the perception on the relation between two countries, on Kosovo issue, and on identifying ways of improving knowledge on each other and fostering a more constructive public debate.
Training course on improving reporting of vulnerable groups
InvestigA training course aiming to improve reporting of vulnerable groups in the media and cooperation of media with civil society was organized on January 20-22, with the participation of journalists from mainstream print and electronic media. The first part of the course addressed the importance of reporting diversity correctly in the media and the significance of cultural diversity in society. Journalists became familiar with and discussed ways of recognizing and accepting the Other, and reporting this topic in an appropriate way. Specific attention was paid to stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination in reporting in the media. Another major field of the course was community journalism and reporting diversity, taking into account specific media coverage, as well as social media role in this aspect.

The second part of the course focused specifically on reporting issues related to terminal patients and palliative care. 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.