Journalist for BIRN Albania Wins Reporting Award

Journalist Jerola Ziaj has been awarded the best reporting award by the Albanian Union of Journalists for 2021.

Ziaj was recognised for her hard-hitting investigative stories about property issues non Albania’s southern coast.

“Her reporting about the property issues on Albania’s southern coast caused numerous reactions from the public and institutions and exposed the problem of corruption related to property issues in Albania, which has led to a criminal investigation,” said the Albanian Union of Journalists.

Ziaj is a reporter for A2 CNN TV in the city of Vlora and a frequent contributor to BIRN Albania’s site Reporter.al, on which she has published a number of investigations into property fraud on Albania’s southern coast.

She has worked as a correspondent for various national TV stations and online media since 2009.

 

 

Albanian Investigative Journalist Wins Award

Albanian journalist Anila Hoxha has been named as the winner of an investigative journalism competition organised by the OSCE Presence in Albania for the article ‘PPP Sterilisation Contract Costs Healthcare System Dearly’.

The investigation shed light on how doctors in Albania struggle to save patients’ lives while keeping costs under control due to a problematic public-private partnership contract for the supply of surgical instruments that was signed with a health consortium that has political ties.

The article was November in December 2020 by BIRN Albania’s online publication Reporter.al, as part of BIRN Albania’s mentorship scheme for local journalists, which aims to nurture quality investigative reporting.

Hoxha is an experienced court and crime journalists with Albania’s Top Channel TV. The award was presented during the 7th annual Media Development Forum organised by the OSCE Presence in Albania.

 

 

 

BIRN Albania Opens Call for Investigations on Public Finances

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a call for investigative stories on November 30, offering grants for three journalists to produce articles on topics related to public finances.

The call is part of the project “Exposing Corruption Through Investigative Journalism,” which is financially supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, NED.

The call is based on topics suggested by two dozen civil society activists and journalists during a joint roundtable held on November 25 in which they concluded that topics related to public finances should be investigated.

Those suggested in the roundtable included:

  • Arrears from public contracting for works and services
  • Lack of competition and corruption in public procurement
  • The use of secret contracts in the security sector to hide corruption,
  • Corruption and mismanagement of public companies
  • Nepotism and undue influence in selection of members of regulatory bodies and boards,
  • Use of public resources for political propaganda
  • Mismanagement in Albania’s oil sector, and state capture.
  • The problems with the delivery of services by local government entities
  • The lack of transparency of political party finances

The journalists will have around three months to dig deeper and research their ideas, and will also have the opportunity to work with experienced editors as mentors to guide them through the process of writing in accordance with BIRN standards.

The call only applies to journalists from Albania and closes on December 25.

Click here for more information (in Albanian) about the application procedure.

Click here to download the application form (in Albanian).

 

 

 

 

BIRN Albania Holds Workshop on Media Monitoring in Elections

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a workshop for experts and civil society on November 9 in Tirana on media and social media monitoring during the elections.

The workshop was greeted by the British Ambassador in Tirana, Alastair King-Smith and the State Commissioner for Elections, Ilirjan Celibashi.

During the last election campaign in April, BIRN Albania piloted new social listening technologies and sound quantitative and qualitative methodologies to monitor for the first time the political discourse in the online and social media.

The findings of the monitoring were shared with experts from Central Electoral Commission, the Audiovisual Media Authority and civil society experts.

The objective of the workshop was to discuss methodologies used and findings of mainstream and alternative media monitoring, but, most importantly, to focus on lessons learned from these pilot studies and recommendations drafted for future legislative and procedural improvements related to the monitoring of media and political party finances.

 

 

 

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on Public Finances

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable on public finances on Wednesday November 24 in Tirana.

A total of 23 journalists, experts and civil society representatives attended the roundtable, in order to identify and discuss topics that journalists could investigate.

The roundtable was moderated by the business journalist and anchor for Albania’s Scan TV, Dafina Hysa. The event also aimed to build cooperation between civil society representatives and reporters covering an array of topics linked to public finances.

The roundtable was part of the project “Exposing Corruption Through Investigative Journalism,” supported financially by the National Endowment for Democracy, NED.

Experts called on journalists to dig deeper in to the ways public finances in Albania are mismanaged – both on a central and local government level, suggesting a number of topic that should be investigated. They included arrears from public contracting for works and services, lack of competition and corruption in public procurement, the use of secret contracts in the security sector to hide corruption, corruption and mismanagement of public companies, nepotism and undue influence in selection of members of regulatory bodies and boards, use of public resources for political propaganda, mismanagement in Albania’s oil sector, and state capture.

The participants from civil society organisations also urged reporters to investigate the delivery of services by local government entities and political party finances, while offering their expertise and resources for reporters that wish to engage in these stories.

The topics discussed at the roundtable will inform BIRN Albania’s upcoming open call for investigative stories on public finances.

 

 

BIRN Albania Holds MOJO Training for Students and Young Journalists

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a two-day training on October 4 and October 5 in Tirana for journalism students and young journalists, on mobile journalism, MOJO.

Seventeen young journalists and journalism students participated in the training delivered by Norbert Sinkovic, an experienced trainer on multimedia and mobile journalism, and facilitated by BIRN staff.

The training provided the young journalists and journalism students with the fundamental techniques of reporting and storytelling on mobile, web and other online platforms.

The trainees learned on how to create quality journalism content, using best practices for producing high-quality photos and video, audio, and editing for social media, web, and other platforms – using mobile devices.

The intensive workshop-style training was designed to provide young journalists with the key skills of journalism using mobile phones.

This activity was part of the project “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania” co-funded by the European Union and Swedish government and implemented by BIRN.

BIRN Albania Holds ‘MOJO’ Training for Local Journalists

The Balkan Investigative Reporting in Albania held a two-day training on October 2 and 3 in Tirana on Mobile Journalism, MOJO, for local journalists.

Eighteen journalists from different regions of Albania, working for both national and local media outlets, participated in the training, which was delivered by Robert Sinkovic, a mobile journalism expert with the Thomson Foundation.

The training provided the journalists with the fundamental techniques of reporting and storytelling on mobile, web and other online platforms.

The reporters learned on how to create quality journalism content using best practices for producing high-quality photos and video, audio, and editing for social media, web, and other platforms – using mobile device.

The intensive workshop-style training was designed to provide senior journalists with key journalism skills using mobile phones.

This activity was part of the project “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania” co-funded by the European Union and Swedish government and implemented by BIRN.

 

BIRN Albania Opens Call for Documentary Film

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania invites local production companies from Albania to send proposals for a feature-length documentary on the topics of demographic changes, migration and youth.

The documentary can explore the three topics in the Albanian context seperately or together, depending on the artistic perspective of the director and screenwriter.

The production of this documentary is part of the project “Using Big Data and Multimedia to Boost Quality and Independent Journalism in Albania”, co-funded by the European Union and implemented by BIRN.

The main objective of this project is to create an enabling environment for Albanian journalists to produce independent content through training, mentoring, technical and financial support, and close cooperation with civil society, thus improving the freedom of expression and strengthening media pluralism in the country.

Please find attached the application package in Albanian:

 

 

EU Awards Three Best Investigative Stories From Albania

Three investigative stories on Tuesday were awarded the EU Award for Investigative Journalism, as the best stories from Albania in 2020.

Journalists Ljuljeta Progni, Geri Emiri, Anila Hoxha and Esmeralda Keta were selected from many colleagues as this year’s winners for their stories about abuse of workers’ rights in Albania, corruption in construction and wrongdoings behind the curtain of the pandemic.

The jury, consisting of jury head Albana Kasapi, a renowned journalist and BBC producer, Idro Seferi, a Deutsche Welle and Swiss TV correspondent, and Elira Canga, a journalist working in media development, had a hard task in choosing the three top stories.

Opening the ceremony, the director of BIRN Hub, Marija Ristic, stressed the importance of awards like this in recognizing journalists who work hard to deliver pieces of real public importance.

The head of the Political Section of the European Union Delegation in Albania, Alexis Hupin, spoke about investigative journalism as a mechanism to challenge governments and authority and make them more transparent and accountable.

Hupin, head of jury Kasapi, and jury member Seferi then presented the awards to the winners.

The first prize went to Luljeta Progni for her video, “Oil Slaves”, which focuses on the human stories of Albanian oil workers fighting for their rights and professional status.

The feature-length video investigation captures the human dimension of this struggle, which is often sidelined in the local media, drawing attention to the phenomenon through backstories and the narrative of protagonists.

“Oil Slaves” covers hunger strikes, protests and struggles of Albanian oil workers for unpaid wages and benefits and the mismanagement of the industry by the Albanian authorities through shady privatizations, which eventually led to its collapse. The report is based on interviews with workers and representatives of unions in the oil industry.

Geri Emiri took second prize for a Story of Exceptional Quality for a series of investigative stories into the 2019 earthquake in Albania and the shoddy conductions of buildings in the port of Durres, which brought about their collapse and left many victims.

The stories have a public-interest angle and include a thorough investigation done though human sources and documents, interviews and other investigative techniques into the causes behind the collapse of so many building during the quake.

The first story in the series, “Albanian Quake Probe Hones in on Sub-Standard Concrete”, reveals that below-strength concrete was used in a number of buildings that collapsed in Durres during the earthquake and killed 23 people.

The second, “Durres Leaning Towers; Residents Face off with Developers Over Construction Quality”, reveals that many apartment towers damaged in the 2019 Durres quake had substandard construction work.

The third story, “Albania’s War on ‘Fear Mongers’ Leaves Rights Activists Uneasy”, brings insight into the story of the Albanian police who investigated journalists and citizens for allegedly “spreading panic” after the quake and in the coronavirus pandemic, with a chilling effect on media and freedom of speech.

The fourth piece,”Cacophony of Structural Tests Leaves People Made Homeless by Quake in Limbo”, investigates the conflict between the residents of buildings damaged by the quake in Durres and Construction Institute and its evaluation of the severity of damages.

Finally, “Structural Interventions Turned Flats Into Death Traps” , reveals how illegal construction led to the collapse of several buddings in Durres during the quake.

Journalists Anila Hoxha and Esmeralda Keta won third prize for their story:  “Albanian Govt Accused of Manipulating Pandemic Aid Data”, a thorough investigation into the support given to poor families in the pandemic and the response of the state administration in this field.

The investigation was the result of a professional, fact-based effort by the two journalists to shed light on the phenomenon of aid abuse. Their investigation revealed that although Albania’s government took credit for putting food on the tables of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the figures it touted do not tell the whole story.

BIRN Albania Presents Its Social Media Research Findings

On July 27th, BIRN Albania held a consultation session with civil society organisations in Tirana, to present the findings of its research on the use of social media by political actors and entities during the campaign for the April 25th parliamentary elections.

The session was attended by two dozen civil society representatives from organisations that monitored the work of Albanian institutions and political parties in the elections.

This was the second presentation session held by BIRN Albania. At an earlier meeting, the findings were shared with experts and officials from Albania’s Central Electoral Commission, CEC.

The event was held as part of the project “Monitoring political discourse in social media during the 2021 parliamentary elections in Albania”, which was supported by the National Democratic Institute.

This project aims to contribute towards a more transparent social media space, so that citizens have increased access to a range of views and opinions during elections campaigns in order for them to make informed decisions.

To achieve this, based on the results on the monitoring of social media networks during the election, in cooperation with civil society and experts, BIRN Albania is identifying a number of recommendations that it believes the CEC should address ahead of the next election.

The findings of the monitoring report were presented by BIRN Albania’s Executive Director, Kristina Voko. They were followed by a discussion and recommendations by civil society representatives present.