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The Albanian Media Institute is presenting you with the Albanian Media Newsletter. This electronic monthly newsletter tries to keep you updated on the developments of the Albanian media and training activities for journalists at the Albanian Media Institute and elsewhere in Albania. We attempt to provide a glimpse on the evolution of the Albanian media landscape, bringing closer to you the media situation in our country, hoping to provide useful information.
NEW PROPOSALS FOR AMENDING AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA LAW
New amendment to audiovisual media law by the ruling majority has sparked debate in the Parliamentary Commission on Education and Public Information Means. The amendment aims to proceed with starting of election of new members and chair of the regulator. According to the law, the current members shall continue to hold their positions after this law enters into force, until the termination mandate set in their appointment. The chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Media, coming from the opposition, claimed that this amendment aims to threaten continuity and independence of the regulator. He also wrote a letter in this regard to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic. She responded that her office is closely monitoring the matter. Underlining that it is crucial for the regulator to act as an independent body, she replied that her office is ready to assist with legal analysis of the amendment. In this context, the discussion of the amendment in the commission has been postponed until OSCE review of the amendment is received. Meanwhile, the ruling majority has called on the regulator to refrain from making decisions, as they do not have the mandate for this at the moment.
CONSULTATION ON KICK-OFF OF NEW PROJECT ON MEDIA
Representatives of media industry, media regulators, and academicians engaged in media studies, along with organizations working in media development gathered on January 16 in Tirana to discuss the new project “Improving media freedom and media professionalism in Albanian media.” The project will be implemented by the Albanian Media Institute and two partner centers based in Zagreb and Budapest. The project will combine components that monitor the environment that conduces to freedom of media and expression to those that aim to further improve professionalism of journalists. Specific attention will be paid to monitoring implementation of new media legislation and to training of key actors in improving implementation of legislation. The project also has a component that is devoted to investigative journalism. The participants welcomed the idea of such an initiative, stressing that the attempt to have an all-encompassing project in terms of monitoring, research, and training, is always needed in the Albanian media context. They also stressed that as wider involvement of stakeholders as possible during the whole project was key to the success of the project. In addition, several participants also suggested new sources of work in progress that could be useful for the project research, expressing the desire to share the information during the research process. The project is funded by European Union.
TRAINING COURSE ON ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR DIGITAL JOURNALIST
A training course aiming to provide reporters with the basic skills needed in the digital era was organized on January 20-24 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of reporters and photojournalists, from the main news agencies in the country and other print and electronic media. This course focused on introducing the participants to the essential skills needed in journalism's digital age, such as mastering the basics of audio, video and other multimedia tools. Apart from these key skills and usage of basic equipment, journalists also discussed the ethical dilemmas and problems that emerged with the increasing use of technology in the media. Significant attention was also paid to the way that storytelling changes and should be adapted with the acquisition of new skills and use of new equipment for reporters. The main aspects addressed during the course included multimedia skills, including audio and video; how to recognize and negotiate the ethical issues specific to multimedia; what it takes to survive and thrive in a constantly changing landscape; how and why you need to build your brand as a journalist; adopting the skills learned to the overall vision and philosophy of the media outlet, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the European Union.
PROJECTION OF DOCUMENTARY MOVIE “GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN”
The documentary movie “Google and the world brain” was projected for students of the Department of Journalism at the public University of Tirana on January 20. The documentary focuses on Google’s project started in 2002, consisting in scanning millions of books in an effort to create a giant global library. But even as authors whose copyrighted work was being scanned launched a campaign to stop Google in its tracks, the real intention of the project was being called into question. The documentary is full of information, interviews and startling facts, but the people whose business it is to collect and organize information provide some of the most sanguine statements here. as we get closer to developing a near-omniscient form of artificial intelligence, can companies like Facebook and Google really be trusted to direct such staggering changes in human communication? With the future of all human knowledge in the control of an organization that promises to do no evil, isn’t this where all science fiction dystopias begin? This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.
REGULATOR ORGANIZES CONFERENCE ON CHILD PROTECTION
The Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) organized on January 17 a conference titled "Protecting children’s rights in the media.” Participants included representatives of relevant state bodies, organizations working on child protection, People’s Advocate, Commissioner for Protection of Personal Data, Commissioner Against Discrimination, etc. The chairwoman of the regulator stressed the importance of raising awareness regarding child protection matters in terms of media coverage. The participants noted the important role of the media in informing the public regarding problems and challenges related to children. However, they also noted that media coverage of these cases should be dealt with carefully. The participants also discussed specific ways of achieving these goals.
COURSE ON MEDIA LEGISLATION
A training course on media legislation took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 29-30, with the participation of 15 journalists from mainstream media. The course aimed for journalists to become familiar with the existing legislation regarding various media aspects and the situation of its implementation. The specific aspects tackled were defamation, access to information, and labor relations in the media landscape, viewed in a comparative manner with EU standards in this area. After providing a brief overview of the international standards in access to information, the lecturers focused on the Albanian legal provisions in this area. Special attention was paid to a joint initiative with Justice Initiative to make further amendments to the law on access to information. The participants presented their problems in receiving information from public officials in the course of their work. The participants also became familiar with the main legal provisions regarding defamation as changed in 2012 in the Penal and Civil Codes. The main issues addressed were related to the main defamation court cases and to the changing of mechanism of fines with the new amendments. Finally, the participants discussed the situation of labor relations in the media, referring to the regulation in Labor Code and the respective provisions in audiovisual media legislation. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.
REGULATOR APPROVES BROADCASTING CODE
The Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) organized on January 24 a meeting aiming to discuss the draft regulations on broadcasting with the media representatives, state bodies overseeing human rights, and other related organizations. The representatives of the regulator stressed the need to reach a broad consensus among actors in approving these regulations. The regulations were related to broadcasting programs rules, audiovisual communications of a commercial nature, unpaid broadcasting of messages of high public interest, determination of events of great importance, etc. This regulation is part of the efforts to complete the legal framework after the approval of the Audiovisual Media law in March 2013. The regulator decided to approve the Broadcasting Code on January 27. However, the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Media Commission has warned that the regulator should not proceed with making important decisions without completing the membership, claiming that it does not have the quorum to make these decisions.
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