Media Situation - Balkanmedia
Recently, the situation of Albanian media outlets and journalists has become more critical compared to the working conditions a few years ago. International organisations and studies report the formation of an intimidating, hostile and offensive environment for people working in the media. The European Commission’s Albania 2019 Report states that “threats and intimidating language against journalists have increased”.
Very alarming are several cases of physical assaults towards investigative journalists in the past years. What worsens the conditions is the current lack of consistency in the judiciary. The newest opinion poll published by the United Nations Development Programme quotes the Albanian courts as being the least trusted governmental institutions. As a result, journalists rarely file charges following attacks.
Furthermore, the implementation of European standards – defined by the Council of Europe’s “Indicators for media in a democracy”– to the Albanian media landscape lacks consistency. The Albanian Media Institute has quoted the media scene as being exposed to the weakness of government institutions and the influence of economic and political actors. The insufficient implementation of the principles of the Council of Europe is due to a discrepancy between legal guarantees and media practice.
Due to media self-regulation the first Code of Ethics of Albanian media was drafted in 1996 by the Albanian Media Institute, in cooperation with the main journalists’ associations. The Code was revised thoroughly in 2006 after a process of consultation and finally implemented by media outlets in February 2020, when news portals such as dita.al, exit.al and ORA TV signed an agreement to create the countries first self-regulation platform for ethical media. The Alliance for Media Ethics was formed with the support of the Albanian Media Council, the European Union, the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the Embassy of the Netherlands. The main goal of the 19 signatories and founding members is to implement the Code of Ethics into their work. For this purpose, they created an independent complaint board for citizens which is moderated by the Alliance. All members of the Alliance commit themselves to accepting the decisions of the committee.
Regarding the professional status, journalists in Albania work under difficult circumstances. Almost 90 percent of journalists are working massively undeclared, and receive salaries with delay (1 to 3 months) or sometimes not at all. Contracts are often imposed and formulated in such a way that they have no legal ground.
There have been different initiatives to establish journalists’ organisations in Albania, but the most active in protecting journalists’ rights is the Union of Albanian Journalists (UAJ).
- Godole, Jonila (2014). Albanian Media in Transition (Media shqiptare në tranzicion), Papirus
- United Nations Development Programme “Trust in Governance 2017” Opinion Poll
- Albanian Media Institute 2018 report on “Albanian Media Scene vs. European Standards”
- European Commission Progress Report 2019 for Albania
Jonila Godole, Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture
2020 adjusted by Luise Mosig, KAS Media Programme South East Europe