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Study trip of Serbian journalists to Albania
RoundtableA training session on reporting diversity, with a specific focus on Roma and Egyptians, was organized with journalists at the Albanian Media Institute on March 2-4, with the participation of 15 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 introduced the journalists to the most relevant issues related to Roma situation in the country and analyze with them the media coverage on Roma and identify ways to improve it. The lecturers introduced the participants to a brief history of Roma in Albania, the existing stereotypes in society and in media regarding Roma, and addressed specific ways to improve Roma coverage in the media. Specific attention was paid to the language used vis-a-vis Roma, and the space devoted to them in mainstream media. Other important issues discussed including the lack of official statistics on Roma and the way this affects media coverage on them, the official Strategy for the Roma community, the civil society attempts made in this regard, etc. A special analysis was made on media coverage of Roma minority, bringing examples that had sparked media interest on Roma population, and analyzing the reasons for this interest and ways to increase and improve media coverage on Roma. This training session was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Soros Foundation.
Reporting diversity training course
Fatos Lubonja receives Prince Claus Award
Well-known Albanian columnist and writer Fatos Lubonja received the prestigious Prince Claus Award from the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in a ceremony organized on March 14, 2016, in Tirana. The award is presented each year to artists and intellectuals in recognition of the quality of their work and their impact on development of their society.

According to the selection committee, the award motivation was based on Lubonja's honest and accounts of episodes in Albania's recent history, his intellectual integrity and independence, for his fight for democracy and human rights, as well as for broadening the scope of public debate.
EU Award for Investigative Journalism in 2015 announced in Albania
EU AwardJournalist Leonard Bakillari was awarded first prize in the EU Investigative Journalism Award 2015 for Albania contest, for his article on corruption in the judiciary system, published in reporter.al news portal. Second prize went to Ornela Liperi of economic magazine "Monitor" for her article on the financial crisis and debt situation of business companies in Albania. The award for best article by young investigative journalist was given to Habjon Hasani for his TV report on the petroleum concession and its effects on economy, in the framework of the program "Të Paekspozuarit" of Ora News TV. Award ceremony was held on May 12th, 2016, at Tirana Times Bookshop, Tirana. A total of 29 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: Aleksander Cipa, head of Union of Albanian Journalists and jury chair, Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, Ani Ruci, Deutsche Welle correspondent, Rrapo Zguri, professor of journalism, and Lavdrim Lita, member of EU Policy HUB.

"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.

Aleksander Cipa, chair of the jury, appreciated the difficulties that investigative journalists face, at a time when their job is of particular importance to our societies. However, he considered it a good sign that the number of nominations for the award has increased, along with the fact that most journalists are young, which bodes well for the future of investigative journalism in the country. In addition, he pointed out that the broad range of topics covered in the nominated articles and TV stories also indicates the good efforts of investigative journalists in the country.

The EU award for investigative journalism will be given each year in the period of three years 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.
A study trip for five Serbian journalists and editors was organized on March 8-10 in Tirana, 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 aimed to better know the realities of both countries, to expand the contacts between media professionals and to improve reporting neighbors in the region. This was the second visit, after a group of Albanian journalists visited Belgrade in January this year.

For this purpose, the meetings of Serb journalists in Tirana included representatives from civil society, such as Gledis Gjipali, director of European Movement of Albania, Albert Rakipi, director of the Albanian Institute for International Studies, and Kujtim Cashku, director of Film Academy Marubi. 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. The journalists also met with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Majlinda Bregu, Head of Parliamentary Commission on European Integration. These meetings addressed concrete ongoing initiatives between the two countries, discussed the official position on several matters, as well as future plans in the framework of regional cooperation.

Both Albanian and Serb journalists discussed the problems in each country and the mutual challenges media and journalists face during a roundtable organized on March 9, under the moderation of Kurt Bassuener, Senior Associate Democratization Policy Council. David Muniz, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy appreciated the initiative, describing the Serbia-Albania relationship as "one of the bright spots in the region in the last few years." The roundtable discussion focused on specific nature of media coverage in Albania and Serbia, ethical and hate speech problems, the systemic difficulties with media in both countries, and freedom and professionalism of journalists. The study trip was organized from Albanian Media Institute, with the support of US Embassy.
Regional forums on reporting diversity
KorcaA regional forum on ethical reporting of diversity and ethical guidelines on coverage of vulnerable groups was organized in Korca on March 18. 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.