INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ETHICS DAY IN ALBANIA
Date: Friday, 23rd September, 2011
Time: 9:30am- 12:15pm
Venue: Albanian University, Bulevardi Zogu i Pare, Tirana, Albania
Organizers: Center for International Media Ethics in collaboration with the Departamenti i Shkencave te Komunikimit, Albanian University
Moderator-Valbona Sulce Kolgeci, lecturer at the Albanian University
Journalists, media managers, lecturers, representatives of governmental bodies and NGOs, local and international, and students as well discussed for about three hours about the level of Ethics in the Albanian media and proposed solutions to improve it.
The event was opened by the Vice Rector of the Albanian University and the Dean of the Communication Sciences Department, Prof.Dr Hamit Borici who welcomed the participants. Mr Borici stressed the efforts made by AU towards the formation of young journalists with the principles of ethics. According to him, the Code of Ethics needs to be rewritten in order to reflect the changes in the median environment today.
Mr Remzi Lani, Director of the Albanian Media Institute highlighted the fact that after years in transition, the legislative framework for media in Albania is lacking coherence; therefore it needs a complete revision. As for the self regulation of the journalists’ community, Mr Lani called it “a failure”, but nevertheless it should be a motivation to see forward and not to stop efforts to have a vital community of journalists.
Mr Aleksander Cipa, the head of the Union of the Albanian Journalists, the biggest professional community in the country counting about 850 members, said that the level of ethics cannot be seen isolated from the level of ethics in the society in general, which had a trauma after 50 years of communist regime.
The Head of the OSCE (organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Presence in Albania, Ambassador Eugen Wollfarth made an appeal to the Albanian Institutions to support media in order for the latter to report freely and independently. Journalists should give true, accurate and neutral information, said Mr Wollfarth. OSCE is supporting and it is ready to continue its support further to assure greater freedom of media in Albania. “But journalists should be free of fear and ….it is their duty to be loyal to professional responsibilities, respecting the principles of accuracy, truth and objectivity.” According to Mr Wollfarth, the world is today in a crossroad when the technological innovations are used to violate the basics of ethics in media, as the privacy protection. “We need now more than ever an independent and accountable media that not only inform, but also help people to notice the right from wrong.”
The PR Director of the Commissioner for the Protection of Personal Data, Mr Igli Pira asked for more collaboration with the media in order to protect the Personal Data of the citizens according to the law.
In order to provide a base for the discussions in the second part of the workshop, the participants followed an insert of vox pops realized by the students of AU regarding the ethics in Albanian media.
Then the workshop continued with concrete examples from the everyday work of journalists. In most cases, the examples had to do with the protection of children abused, sexually or in other forms. Another journalist brought the example of the publication of some images of the assassination of a prosecutor recently, without any cuts.
When discussing the arguments provided from CIME, the participants were divided in their opinions.
Argument 1. The private lives of politicians are not matters of public interest and therefore should not be written about in newspapers. For/against How would your answer change in case of celebrities?
Argument 2. Newspapers should always be allowed to publish sensitive and secret information when it is obtained from third party sources. For/against How would your answer change if it concerned a matter of confidential information?
Most of the journalists voted for the argument 2 on the condition that the secret information obtained by third party should be verified first, while for the argument 1 (private life of politicians) they voted in block in favor if publishing facts about their private life as long as they represent public figures.
The event was broadcasted live by UTV News, while featuring in some local TVs (Vizion Plus, UTV News) and international ones (Voice of America, Albanian service). Read more and watch a video here.