This meeting which took place on February 28th 2017, in the premises of “Tirana Times” Library, gathered representatives of media, international community, academia and civil society. The study, prepared by a EU Policy Hub research team, monitors and examines the integration discourse in 4 Albanian newspapers for the period of January – June 2016, while aims to provide an overview on the content of the articles related to the European integration.
The event was welcomed by the director of the Open Society Foundation, Mr. Andi Dobushi who- in the context of European integration, discussed the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ fabrication which is utilized by specific medias as an instrument in the hands of influential individuals, rather than as a tool to inform and shed light on the issue to the audience. In addition, Mr. Dobrushi emphasized that the Open Society Foundation program’s approach is to establish a healthy balance between media freedom and its responsibilities which are closely related to: professionalism, objectivity, public’s interest service and transparency.
The Director of “Friedrich Herbert” Foundation, Mr. Frank Hantke, underlined the important role of media at informing citizens about the European Integration processes. “Consequently, it is essential that the relationship between citizens and the state, be a positive and trustworthy one. In this context, media is the “bridge” which links both entities; politicians and citizens”- stressed Hantke.
During his speech, Dr. Sylvain Gambert; team Leader of the Political, Economic and Communication Sector, at European Delegation to Albania, was focused on the important role of media, particularly as regards to the justice reform. According to Mr. Gambert, the role of media is to report and inform the audience and not to stumble or denounce the reform.
During his presentation, the co-author, Mr. Besnik Baka shared with the audience the methodology and key findings of the study, focusing on the high number of the articles identified and their low relevance related to the European integration. Moreover, Mr. Baka stated that the articles reporting the integration process are short, have no author, or accompanied by small photos in the internal pages of the papers. Whereas, majority of the reports indicate lack of analytical or argumentative articles from the editorial staff. Low relevance is linked also with appear in the front page, where only 6% of the articles are found to be published.
An open discussions with key panelists, and participants followed, moderated by the known journalist, Ms. Eni Vasili. Representatives from civil society, media, academia discussed on the findings of the study and shared their thoughts about the challenges that media faces in Albania as regards to the integration topics.
According to Xhovani Shyti, two are the main reasons of the current situation: (1) Lack of journalists, reporters as well as analysts who directly cover the integration issues; and (2) Lack of qualitative articles and news with high relevance, due to the fact that the editors are more business oriented rather than quality oriented.
Mr. Lutfi Dervishi, shared his long experience in media miluey and discussed on the findings of the study. Specifically, he was focused on the lack of qualitative articles related to the integration issues and the fact that there are only few specified journalists who cover such issues. “It happens very often that a status on Facebook becomes a headline in the newspapers which is than massively reproduced by other media…”, said Dervishi.
In his comment, Mr. Benet Koleka from ‘Reuters’ emphasized that the current situation may not be the sole responsibility of journalists and media actors. Taking in consideration the problems that media faces today in Albania, respective institutions also plays an important role at ensuring access to information and a better articulation of EU issues.
In addition, other participants from academic circles commented and discussed on the importance of informing citizens not only by media, but also including the EU integration in the curricula of the educational system in Albania.