October 2008 – September 2010
Through the Media, Transparency and Accountability in Albania project, IREX Europe aims to contribute to strengthening the Albanian media as a key underpinning to the good governance and accountability required for democratic development. The project, supported by the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF), builds the media’s role in promoting transparency by improving its capacity 1) to investigate and inform citizens about corruption and issues of civic concern and 2) to develop, implement and enforce its own ethical and professional standards. IREX Europe approaches these project objectives through collaboration with two Albanian initiatives - the Hapur Foundation and the Union of Albanian Journalists.
Hapur Foundation, IREX Europe’s partner for the Media, Transparency and Accountability in Albania project, has launched a website that features its investigative TV reports. Visitors can view via YouTube and the project website the project’s probing reports, such as the powerful story of how citizens have come together to fight their local municipality over land rights.
Land rights and property ownership are complex challenges in Albania after the nationalization by the former communist regime. In the featured report, journalist Yilka Kamenica outlines the battle between local authorities who want to use a tract for development and the group of citizens who claim they hold title to the land.
Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries and, according to Transparency International, one of the world’s most corrupt. Yet Albania has set an ambitious agenda for access to the European Union and meeting the Millennium development goals, including its own national goal of Good Governance. In the next years, Albania faces crucial tests of its ability to move forward toward these objectives and broader democratic development.
To date, changes in Albania’s political leadership have not led to reform. Government corruption and incompetence are blamed for an energy crisis that causes blackouts that can extend for hours even in the capital and are much worse in remote areas. Petty corruption is also is endemic. The media regularly discusses corruption cases but also is subject to pressures from both political and economic power blocks when attempting critical reporting. Attempts to access information from public institutions are often rebuked, and in many cases the skills of journalists are not sufficient to enable them to press forward.
Two effective although nascent initiatives seek to address the challenges outlined above. The Hapur Foundation seeks to promote investigative journalism by building on the precedent represented by the television program Hapur, which was financed for several years by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and has aired hundreds of investigative stories on nearly 20 television stations in the districts of Albania. Additionally, the Union of Albanian Journalists has become a more active advocate for journalistic professionalism. This project supports these organizations to respond to the need for a media sector more able to serve as a watchdog and meet the information requirements of citizens in an evolving democracy.
The project aims at strengthening the Albanian media as a key underpinning to the good governance and accountability required for democratic development, by:
Improving Investigative Journalism
Through technical assistance and grants, the project will support the Hapur Foundation to:
Produce magazine-format television shows on corruption, those who fight it and upcoming parliament election issues.
Provide workshops and in-station consultations for media outlets and staff on investigative journalism to raise the professionalism and sophistication of the television programming.
Assist Hapur Foundation in developing as an independent centre supplying TV programs and specialized journalism training.
Strengthening Journalistic Professionalism
Through technical assistance and grants, the project will support the Union of Albanian Journalists to:
Expand membership, negotiate contracts with media outlets and strengthen organizational structures.
Monitor threats to media freedom in Albania and produce regular bulletins and alerts.
Conduct activities that build consensus among journalists on professional standards and ethics code, leading to improved self-regulation.
UNDEF — News from the Field : New media tackles corruption in Albania
Weekly journalists meeting organised by Hapur Foundation (local partner)
TV debate (Ora News TV) about anti-corruption segments produced under the project
Andrea Stefani, Senior media advisor, organising Ora News TV anti-corruption debate
Ora News TV anticorruption debate - post-production