Journalists Raise Concerns Over Media Freedom in Albania

Yesterday, several media organizations held a round table to talk about media freedom in Albania. The head of the Democratic Party (PD) Lulzim Basha also attended the meeting.

Journalists raised their concern over media freedom issues they face in their daily work, and discussed about ways to overcome what they perceive as the government’s capture of most media.

They said that the government controlled the mainstream media and most of online news websites. Some journalists criticized Prime Minister Edi Rama’s bullying and insulting of journalists.

Another issue raised was government’s and Municipality of Tirana’s usual practice of sending carefully edited ready-made “news” – in video or text – to media outlets, which then are broadcast without any effort for journalistic objectivity. They said that it had become usual for the ruling Socialist Party and Municipality of Tirana not to allow journalists in its activities, and that opposition parties at times did the same.

Journalist Ylli Rakipi said that the increase in news portals’ number was a result of government’s capture and buying of mainstream media, as well as an attempt to counter PM Edi Rama’s propaganda through his online ERTV. He expressed his concern that once in power, Lulzim Basha’s party will behave in the same way.

Armand Shkullaku voiced the same concern about the ready-made party “news” and journalists not being allowed to attend political party events. He said that the situation is getting increasingly worse regarding this specific point.

Lulzim Basha said all activities of the Democratic Party had been broadcast live online with no editing whatsoever, and that journalists had always been welcome to report from the ground. He assured them that his party would continue to be open and transparent to the media and public.

Additionally, he suggested that the way to get rid of the control over the media was to investigate into corruption and illegal activities of those holding public offices. Basha praised the work of online news outlets that have denounced several cases of government corruption.

The Albanian government has recently been criticized by several international media organization and country reports regarding the state of media freedom in the country.