Media and Communication: Research and Public Engagement

Media and Communication: Research and Public Engagement

Media and Communication: Research and Public Engagement

One of the key pillars of the SCiDEV portfolio is Media and Communication, primarily focused on research, capacity development, mentoring and support, networking, and advocacy. In 2021, the SCiDEV team has been actively working in media research and public engagement. Some of the key highlights can be found below:

Report on Indicators on the Level of Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety in Albania 2020

It is the fifth year in a row that journalists’ associations from the Western Balkan countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia), with the support of the European Commission, monitored the development of media freedom and journalists’ safety in their countries. In 2020, two more countries worked on such assessments – Albania and Croatia. The research methodology developed in 20162 was finetuned over the years to standardize the data collection and analysis and to adjust the research focus to the developments in both traditional and online media environments in the Western Balkan countries. Based on these standardized research tools, journalists’ associations assessed the newest developments in their countries and engaged in various advocacy activities to advance the political, legislative, and institutional environment in which the journalists and media work. The Safe Journalists Network in the Western Balkans engaged Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director for the study in Albania as part of the network.

Full study in English

Full Study in Albania

Public event to present the Report Findings

Voice of America Coverage of the Report Findings and Public Event

The Western Balkans Journalists’ Safety Index (WB-JSI) – ALBANIA

The Western Balkans’ Journalists’ Safety Index (WB-JSI) is a research-grounded tool designed to measure and monitor the changes in the respective social and political environments of the WB countries, that have a direct or indirect impact on the safety of journalists and media actors while practicing their profession. The WB-JSI relies primarily on the research evidence collected and analyzed by the partners of the Platform in compliance with a rigorous procedure of inquiry. The collected data on various dimensions of the complex concept of ‘journalists’ safety’ is quantified and aggregated into a composite indicator – Journalists’ Safety Index, to measure the changes across the seven Western Balkans’ countries over time. This report by Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director, refers to the situation in Albania in 2020 which was designated as the first (pilot) year for the development of the conceptual framework and methodology for scoring, aggregating, and calculating the Index. In the upcoming years, the improvement or deterioration of the situation in all countries will be measured by taking into consideration the assessment for 2020 as the reference year.

Full Report Journalists’ Safety Index Albania in English

ASPEN 2021 Publication: Media Freedom in the Western Balkans

In order to strengthen media freedom in the region, it is crucial to identify the key structural challenges and to find ways to ensure pluralism, transparency, and financial viability in the media sector as well as independent and unbiased reporting and to combat disinformation and hate speech. To discuss these issues and develop specific recommendations for action, the Aspen Institute Germany organized a  closed-door virtual expert workshop entitled “Media Freedom in the Western Balkans” in October 2021.  The expert workshop convened a group of about 40 experts, think-tankers, and journalists from the region as well as decision-makers from the EU, its member states, and international organizations for a  multi-perspective, open exchange on media freedom. This publication contains the key recommendations and input papers developed in the context of the aforementioned workshop. The workshop was organized in the framework of the project “Aspen  Western Balkans Stakeholder Forum 2021,” which was kindly supported by the German Federal Foreign  Office. Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director, participated in the workshop and wrote the piece on Media Freedom in Albania: Such a Frail Thing!

Full ASPEN 2021 Publication Media Freedom in the Western Balkans

8th OSCE South East Europe Media Conference

The media have always been a crucial pillar of democracies, but informing the public on issues that matter to their lives and holding those in power to account is even more important in the context of crises such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, fulfilling their important role in society has become increasingly difficult and dangerous for journalists, as they face growing challenges, amidst a rising tide of mistrust and safety risks. The 8th South East Europe Media Conference (SEEMC) “Journalism in times of crisis”, organized in co-operation with the OSCE Presence in Albania 11-12 October 2021, serves as a call to affirm the importance of journalism as an essential public good and pillar of democratic societies. It aims to foster regional cooperation to address media freedom challenges by exploring opportunities for furthering the media environment in the region, within the context of the present health crisis. Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director, spoke at the second panel on the Safety and Working Conditions of Journalists. The full Agenda of the Conference can be found here. The first day of the conference full video can be found here.

The full report of the 8th OSCE South East Europe Media Conference 2021

OSCE Presence in Albania Media Development Forum 2021

On 25th November 2021, OSCE PiA organized the annual Media Development Forum, a platform for dialogue among media, state institutions, and civil society. This year’s forum focused on the freedom and development of media in Albania. Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director, spoke about the engagement of diaspora in local media development at the panel on investigative journalism and local media. The full agenda of the Forum can be found here.

Journalift Webinar Audience Engagement – Path to Growth and Sustainability

Audience engagement is one of the pillars of the media outlet’s strategy for growth and success. In this business, it is imperative that the content created is consumed by an ever-growing audience, and that goal is constant – no matter how big your audience is. Another goal is that the media should always strive to not only reach their audience, but also engage them so that they could interact, get information, feedback, and even grow their revenue channels. In this webinar of Journalift guests talked about different types of audience engagement, like crowdfunding and raising funds and how can these activities be utilized by media organizations. Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director talked about leveraging the influence and support of diaspora and how can people living around the world help local media outlets survive and thrive based on the study SCiDEV conducted with the support of the Media for All project and Thomson Foundation.

Full webinar video

Blog on diaspora engagement with local media in Albania

Women Journalists under Attack: How to fight back

4th November 2021, #WomenInJournalism organized a webinar on the safety of women journalists, the current situation, and how to fight back. Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV Executive Director presented some of the key findings of the Journalists’ Safety Index for Albania 2020. Full video here.

Diaspora Engagement with Local Media Research

Drawing from the necessity to enable local media to strengthen their relations with audiences and diversify their stream of resources, SCiDEV has conducted a pilot study that investigates the possibility of diaspora engagement with local media with a particular focus in Albania. With the support of the Thomson Foundation and in the framework of the “Media for All” Project, this research investigates the Albanian diaspora profile and connection to Albania with a special emphasis on diaspora media consumption and interest in supporting local media outlets in Albania.

This research investigates the Albanian diaspora profile, its connection to Albania, media consumption, and possibilities and interest for supporting local media outlets in Albania. More concretely, the research maps the densest spots in which Albanian nationals live worldwide, to identify their demographics, connection with Albania and certain cities within the country, their information habits and demands, and potential factors that may lead them to support professional media in Albania. More information about the findings here.

Mentoring local media in Albania

As part of the “Media for All” Project, SCiDEV researchers have been engaged as mentors for local media development, business plan, sustainability, and monetization and monitoring of the grants received by local media. They have been engaged by Thomson Foundation

Blog article on the importance of digital tools for audience targeting: The case of Albanian media by Erjon Curraj

Blog article on stronger local media to protect cultural heritage by Orkidea Xhaferaj

Blog article on community media and business models by Blerjana Bino

Up in the Air? The Future of Public Service Media in the Western Balkans

The agenda for transition after the demise of communism in the Western Balkans made the conversion of state radio and television into public service broadcasters a priority, converting mouthpieces of the regime into public forums in which various interests and standpoints could be shared and deliberated. There is general agreement that this endeavor has not been a success. Formally, the countries adopted the legal and institutional requirements of public service media according to European standards. The ruling political elites, however, retained their control over the public media by various means. Can this trend be reversed? Instead of being marginalized or totally manipulated, can public service media become vehicles of genuine democratization? A comparison of public service media in seven countries (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia) addresses these important questions by CEU Press. The chapter on Albania by Blerjana Bino.