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Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
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Training seminars on media and elections
TrajnimiAlbanian Media Institute and Council of Europe organized two two-day seminars in Tirana on April 21-24, with the participation of 40 reporters. The two seminars were targeted at print and electronic media journalists, aiming to train them on the Albanian Electoral Code and to improve their professional skills in covering elections. Afrim Krasniqi, expert on elections, focused on the evolution of electoral systems in Albania through the years, describing the main advantages, disadvantages, and impact of each on political system. Particular attention was paid to the change of the electoral map, the new administrative system, the way it will affect the outcome of elections, the dynamics between parties, etc. By comparing the current system to previous systems and elections, the lecturer focused on what journalists should expect when reporting. Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, addressed particularly media regulation during electoral campaigns, discussing with participants a potential media code of conduct when covering elections. This discussion was made through practical examples that journalists had experienced during coverage of the campaign. In addition, the legal and other tools used for media monitoring during elections' coverage of campaign were also discussed during the seminar. Specific attention was paid to the ethical dilemmas that coverage of electoral campaign posed, since pressure on media increases in these periods. Another important aspect discussed was the coverage of polls and exit polls, and what media should do in this regard.

Laurent Royu, media expert, addressed the main criteria in reporting elections in a professional manner, based on Council of Europe standards of fairness, balance, and objectivity of election reporting. Other issues he addressed during his lecture included the importance of identifying public concerns when reporting on elections, ways of involving the public in covering elections, manners to handle strategies of political parties vis-a-vis the media, and media ethics in political and election reporting. The lecturer discussed these issues with reporters and gave them the opportunity to test in practice these principles through class exercises. The seminars were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Council of Europe.
TrajnimiA workshop to discuss the findings of a research report on situation of labor relations in the media was organized on April 1, with the participation of about 30 journalists from Tirana and other districts. The research on employment conditions of journalists was conducted as part of the regional project "South-East European Partnership for Media Development", implemented by the Centre for Independent Journalism - Romania and supported by the European Commission, coordinated by Albanian Media Institute for Albania . The research aimed to document the social statute of journalists in Albania in terms of labor rights, situation of trade unions or alternative defense mechanisms, economic and political pressures, etc. According to the report findings, the main problems witnessed include lack of work contracts, fictitious contracts, significant violation of contract terms, especially delays in paying the salaries, overtime work, failure to pay social contributions, etc. Ioana Avadani, director of the Center for Independent Journalism in Romania, also addressed the participants, presenting the findings of the research in other countries in the region.

Based on the findings of the report, a two-day training course on advocacy skills followed on April 2-3, with the participation of 20 journalists and trade union representatives. Cristina Lupu, communication expert, shared the Romanian experience in advocacy, discussing with participants techniques they could use to advance their rights. Aleksander Cipa, chairman of the trade union of journalists, focused on current problems in Albania, challenges from institutions and needs of organization of journalists. He discussed with participants particular ways and actions to take in order to improve the situation of labor rights in the media.
Workshop and advocacy training on labour relations in the media
Freedom House Global Press Freedom Ranking
RaportiThis month Freedom House released its global ranking of freedom of the press all over the world. Albania was ranked 97th out of 199 countries, qualified as partly free. This marked one position up from last year's rank, when it was ranked as 98th. Out of Balkan countries, it shared the same position with Kosovo, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Turkey. The report stated that a number of countries in the Western Balkans continued to exhibit a worrying pattern of press freedom violations in 2014. These media environments feature several common problems: the use of defamation and insult laws by politicians and businesspeople to suppress critical reporting; progovernment bias at public broadcasters; editorial pressure from political leaders and private owners that leads to self-censorship; harassment, threats, and attacks on journalists that go unpunished; and opaque ownership structures.
Training courses on reporting local elections for local journalists
TrajnimTwo training courses on reporting local elections were organized with local journalists in Shkodra on April 8-9 and in Korca on April 29-30, in view of the coming local elections of June 21. The main aim of these training courses was to improve reporting skills of journalists that report on elections by covering all important aspects of the role of media in this process. Participants included political reporters from print and electronic mainstream media. On the first day, journalists were introduced to legal framework on elections, especially the Electoral Code and system. They were briefed on the novelties it presented as compared to the previous systems. They were also introduced to the evolution of electoral system and laws through the years, from establishment of Albanian state to date, highlighting the most noteworthy events of general and local elections, as well as referenda.

On the second day, specific attention was paid to professional dilemmas in media coverage of elections, such as preserving independence, declaring media affiliation with a political wing, taking sides, covering defaming speeches and statements, reporting having in mind the battle of interests from all sides, reporting having in mind the role of independent institutions, etc. In this aspect, special issues of focus included main sources of information, on-field reporters and collaborators, headquarters of competing subjects, official authorities, NGO representatives, international institutions, etc. In addition, journalists became familiar with and discussed the main legal provisions in media coverage of elections, discussing the main challenges and difficulties these obligations posed for their work in covering electoral campaign. Specific attention was paid to the publication of polls, surveys, and exit polls in the media. The participants also focused on cases of media coverage in the last elections, discussing politicization of the coverage vis-a-vis community or public interest. Theses courses were organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
Training course on opinion polls reporting
A training course on reporting of opinion polls was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on April 27-29, with the participation of journalists from print and electronic media. Given the increasingly popular practice of conducting opinion polls, especially related to elections, the aim of the course was to train journalists on how to improve their reporting skills on opinion polls. For this purpose, the journalists were introduced to the main principles of conducting opinion polls, the different methodologies employed for these polls, reporting on polls having in mind the sample and margin of error, continuous polls as opposed to special polls, interviewing methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages, etc. In addition, participants were introduced to the main aspects to have in mind when reporting on polls, such as full coverage of opinion polls as compared to partial, only-results coverage, conveying the results in a public-friendly manner, safeguarding objectivity and professionalism vis-a-vis political interference and interests, debates on opinion polls reporting, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of EU.
Parliament completes election of members of Steering Council of public broadcaster
The parliament elected five remaining members of Steering Council of public broadcaster RTSH during the plenary session of April 30. The new members of the Steering Council are: Saimir Kumbaro, well-known movie director, Robert Rakipllari, editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper, Altin Shegani, dean of the Justice Department at the public University of Tirana, Pashk Pervathi, painter, and Artan Peqini, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the public University of Tirana. The election of new members happened after the opposition MPs decided to participate in the shortlisting process, which took place on April 22. The first five members of the Steering Council had been elected on December 4, 2014, only with ruling majority votes, as the opposition MPs were boycotting all parliamentary activities.