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Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
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Regional Conference of the SEE Media Observatory in Tirana
Pussy RiotThe regional conference "Media and journalism in South East Europe - Captured by particular interests or turning to serve the public?" was held in Tirana on June 12-13. About 70 journalists, editors, media owners, public officials, and civil society representatives from the Balkans and other countries participated in the conference. The conference was hosted by the Albanian Media Institute, in the framework of regional project of the SEE Media Observatory. The Observatory, a regional partnership of civil society organizations from seven countries, organized the regional conference to discuss issues of media integrity with prominent researchers, media professionals, public officials and non-governmental organizations from these countries, but also other countries in the region. High representatives of relevant European institutions and of international organizations working in the media field as well as distinguished academics had also have an important role in the program.

The conference also presented a book containing the results of the regional research on media integrity, a major work of the SEE Media Observatory. The current situation of the media and journalism in the countries of South East Europe is critical. Especially the patterns of media ownership and financing seem to appear as key instruments for obstruction of democratic role of the media. Why the media systems in the region do not provide conditions and mechanisms to enforce the media to function as transparent, independent and responsible institutions? What are the reforms needed to turn them to serve the public interest? These issues were in focus of the South East European Media Observatory research, which applied the concept of media integrity and focused on the situation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia. The Observatory also supported six investigative journalism projects to bring to the light concrete cases of relations and practices harmful for media integrity. The current project SEE Media Observatory has been financed mainly by the European Union's program "Civil Society Facility". The organisation of the central regional conference has also been supported by the Central European Initiative (CEI) and Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations (TACSO).
Human rights weekThe training of Human Rights Week for journalists was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on June 23-27, with the participation of mainly social reporters from mainstream media. The main aim of the training was to provide journalists with the basic standards, laws, regulations, and conventions that protect human rights and guide their reporting on issues related to human rights. For this purpose, the course addressed such issues as international legislation and conventions on human rights, Albanian legislation on human rights, the specific fundamental rights set out in documents such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as the way that these are interpreted and guaranteed in Albanian legislation.

Apart from fundamental human rights, the journalists were also trained on more specific issues, such as gender equality and the law against domestic violence, the rights of minorities and media coverage of minorities, and the fundamental right to faith and the way media reports on faith and religion. Specific attention was paid to media freedom and freedom of expression as one of the cornerstones of a democracy, on the situation in Albania, the factors that affect its current status, and the media coverage of this topic. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Civil Rights Defenders.
The Legal Leaks workshop for journalists was organized on June 4-5 in Tirana for 50 Albanian journalists, civil society representatives, and journalism professors. The Legal Leaks training was meant to empower journalists to use their national freedom of information laws as a regular part of their work. The training provided guidance on how to file freedom of information requests and contribute to protect media freedom by delivering techniques by which journalists can protect the security of their data and of confidential sources of information. Lecturers addressed topics such as the concept of right to information, EU standards and practices in this field, and analysis of Albanian legislation regarding access to information. The workshop also focused on practical aspects of applying right to information in journalism, such as data journalism, as well as balancing it with ethics, self-regulation, and codes of ethics. Specific attention was also paid to ethical journalism in the information era, focusing on the right to reuse data, leaks, and whistleblower protection. Participants also received the Albanian version of the Legal Leaks Toolkit, which provides guidance on how to file freedom of information requests and how to appeal refusals in Albania. The workshop was organized by Albanian Media Institute, UNESCO, and Access Info.

Human Rights Week training for journalists
OSCE and Albanian journalist associations condemn violent attack on journalists in Albania
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, condemned an attack on journalists reporting on a police raid in Gjirokastra's Lazarat village in southern Albania on June 16. "Violence against journalists is unacceptable, safety is a basic pre-condition for their work," Mijatovic said.

According to media reports, a vehicle carrying a journalist, a camera operator, a broadcasting technician and a driver from A1 Report TV channel was shot at by masked armed individuals and later set on fire. The car, with a visible logo of A1 Report, along with the media equipment inside it, was completely destroyed. The journalist Gerti Xhaja was also briefly held hostage and released with the assistance of local citizens.

"It is positive that public officials have already condemned this incident, and that a police investigation is underway. There must be no impunity for attacks on journalists, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice as soon as possible," Mijatovic said. "Over the last years, safety of journalist in Albania has improved and it is important to do everything possible to make sure that this case does not set a bad precedent."

Local journalists' associations, such as Union of Albanian Journalists and Free Media Forum, League of Albanian Journalists, Association of Professional Journalists have also condemned the assault against the TV crew, calling on the authorities and other actors involved to guarantee the safety of journalists during their duty.
Legal Leaks training workshop
Training course on photojournalism
USA ReportA training course on photojournalism took place at the Albanian Media Institute on June 16-20, with the participation of 15 reporters from Tirana-based media outlets. The main aim of the course was to introduce the participants to the basic principles of photojournalism, the notions of reporting through images, and digital photo editing. The course started by reviewing the role of photos, layout, and graphics in present Albanian media scene. Then the course focused on the main elements of good photographs and on the different genres in this area, such as concept, silhouette, colour and black and white, texture, etc. Special attention was paid to learning to make portraits, focusing especially on the different formats of photographing, editing for different purposes and media, cropping, etc. The training followed with an introduction to the basics of digital photography, providing examples from news photography in Albania and in the world. Other topics addressed included the concepts of photo news and photo story, illustrating the different genres with an archive of photos from domestic and international media. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the EU.