Event Reports

Presentation of the Handbook "ABC des Journalismus" in Albanian coupled with Adenauer Lectures

by Johannes Wolf

The Media Programme South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) presented the well-known German handbook "ABC des Journalismus" in Albanian translation to the faculties of journalism of the universities in Tirana and Pristina on 15th and 17th of March. Dr. Christopher Nehring, the guest lecturer of the Media Programme at Sofia University, accompanied this event with an Adenauer Lecture entitled " Media, Secret Services and Disinformation. Mapping a complex relationship. "

For students of journalism and media studies in Germany, "ABC des Journalismus" by Prof. Claudia Mast is one of the best-known reference works. The KAS Media Programme South East Europe has had the handbook translated into four languages -  Albanian as well as Bulgarian, Romanian and Croatian. On 15th of March, Hendrik Sittig, Head of the KAS Media Programme, handed over the Albanian version to Prof. Mark Marku, Head of the Faculty of Journalism and Communication at the University of Tirana. Nearly one hundred students attended the event in the Konrad Adenauer Hall of the University.

In his opening speech, Hendrik Sittig emphasised the value of factual and balanced reporting for a democracy. He particularly stressed that neither alternative facts nor a post-factual age exist: "No: the earth remains a globe. And if someone claims today that the earth is flat like a disc, then it is not our task as journalists to allow this opinion to have equal status out of a misconceived sense of balance. It can confidently be denied."

Dr. Christoph Nehring, guest lecturer of the Media Programme at Sofia University, concluded with an Adenauer Lecture on the topic of secret services, media and disinformation. Using the example of the research network Bellingcat, he stated: "The methods of digital investigative journalism resemble those of secret services in an almost astounding manner." These include bought satellite images and leaked information from databases, as well as trick calls in which the interview partners are deceived. Beyond the similarities in their working methods, the interaction between the media and the intelligence services fluctuates between cooperation and confrontation. One aspect of this relationship is disinformation. Using the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a troll factory allegedly close to the Kremlin, as an example, Dr. Nehring showed how a state or secret service can influence public opinion both at home and abroad through the mass production and dissemination of targeted fake news. Especially in authoritarian systems, this kind of confrontation between media and intelligence services is experiencing a renaissance, he said: "From Covid through the Russo-Ukrainian war to nationalism, populism – today, disinformation is everywhere."

Another presentation of the textbook followed at the University of Pristina on 17th of March. Prof. Remzie Shahini-Hoxhaj of the Faculty of Journalism invoked the former German chancellor Konrad Adenauer as an upright democrat in her greeting and highlighted the value of the Konrad- Adenauer Foundation's media work for the Balkan states. The faculty streamed the entire event on their Facebook account. Moreover, later in the evening, the public television station Radio Television Kosovo (RTK) covered the presentation of the book and the following lecture in their news programme. About fifty students followed the lecture in person and actively participated in the concluding discussion with many questions.

Translations of the textbook into Bulgarian, Romanian and Croatian are to be delivered to universities in Bulgaria, Bucharest and Zagreb in the following months.