BIRN Albania Holds Regional Info Sessions with Civil Society, Journalists

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The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania over the last three weeks held three regional information sessions for civil society activists and journalists on its EU-funded project, “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania”, which is co-financed by the European Union and the Swedish government and implemented by BIRN Albania.

Three information sessions were held, on July 22nd, July 28th and July 30th, in Elbasan, Shkodra and Vlora. The sessions, which 50 civil society activists and journalists attended, aimed to introduce local actors to BIRN Albania’s project, which supports journalists to report on the work of public inspectorates.

This project aims to create an enabling environment for Albanian journalists to produce independent content through training, mentoring, technical and financial support, and through close cooperation with civil society, so improving freedom of expression and strengthening media pluralism in Albania.

During the information sessions, BIRN Albania’s editor-in-chief, Besar Likmeta, gave a short overview of the project, while inviting participants to debate possible topics for in-depth data-driven stories, which cover the work of public inspectorates, ranging from environmental crime to fisheries, workers’ safety, mining accidents, consumer rights and public administration reform.

The activists and civil society representatives present at the meetings proposed important topics that journalists could investigate, while also calling for more coverage of their causes and activities from the media.

While underlining the importance of close cooperation between civil society and media, journalists explained that the basic tenets of news value and editorial considerations often conditioned their coverage, while calling on civil society experts to speak with a stronger voice on issues that are critical to the community.

Both parties recognised that, despite the challenges, their professional cooperation was important to address issues to a wider audience that are key to the rights of local communities, marginalized groups and individuals.