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. Based on these standardized research tool, 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. Safe Journalist Network engaged Blerjana Bino, Co-Founder of SCiDEV, as a national researcher to write the report. Legal expert Blerina Fani and media experts Aleksandër Çipa, Union of Albanian Journalists, and Besar Likmeta, BIRN Albania, were engaged to review the report.
Concerns over the safety of journalists increased in 2020 with 17 alerts including threats against the life and physical safety of journalists, non-physical threats and harassments, actual attacks, and threats and attacks on media organizations. There are no specific provisions for the safety of journalists, and state institutions have limited capacities, resources, and preparedness to guarantee journalists’ safety. Institutions in Albania do not systematically publish data about attacks on journalists and impunity. Although attacks on the safety of journalists are generally condemned by state officials, proper investigation into the cases are lacking.
Albanian media have gone through major transformations responding to the country’s socio-cultural, political, and economic changes and advancements in technologies, global media trends, and, more recently, to the COVID-19 crisis. The development of media in Albania in the past three decades has not been linear; rather, it echoes a dynamic, rich, and diverse media landscape with the main feature of the dominance of clientelist media, marked by a subtle interdependence and interrelation among media, politics, and business.
On 16 July, Safe Journalists Network, SCiDEV, and Union of Albanian Journalists presented the report findings during a hybrid event at InnoSpace Tirana and over Zoom with the participation of Esiona Konomi, Journalists; Erisa Kryeziu from Citizen Channel, and Geri Emiri from Amfora.