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Albanian Media Institute offers varied training courses for journalists

Date: 6/14/98

By Sokol Mici

The U.S. Information Service (USIS) will place a professional-in-residence in Tirana University’s journalism department and bring three speakers to Albania to offer lessons in the management of private radio and television and on business reporting, according to the latest report from the Albanian Media Institute (AMI).

The professional-in-residence will consider reforms for the department’s curriculum and also might teach.

Last spring, an international conference on Albanian media development and international cooperation was held in Tirana. The event was a joint effort of AMI, the Soros Foundation, Press Now, USIS, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), the Institute for Journalism in Transition (IJT), and OSCE representatives in Albania, supported by the Council of Europe and the Greek Embassy in Tirana. Twenty-five international media organizations from Europe and the United States as well as representatives of some Western governments participated.

Soon after this conference, AMI in cooperation with partners organized training courses. A seminar on investigative journalism was organized with the Thomson Foundation; a two-week course with the participation of various radio journalists titled “News and Current Affairs” was organized with Deutsche Welle. A project with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in Washington on the “Management of Private Radios” is in its final stage. In September, AMI and Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency will launch a two-year project, "Professional Training in the Balkans.” AMI also plans to provide long-term, radio-training courses. It also is considering a long-term course that would award a formal diploma to print and electronic journalists.

AMI, the only institution of its kind in Albania, offers mid-career training to journalists and news media employees. The institute was established with a grant from the Danish government. AMI operates according to an agreement of cooperation between the League of Albanian Journalists and the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania--the only organizations for journalists and media employees in the country. Contact: Remzi Lani, Executive Director, Albanian Media Institute, Rr. Him Kolli, Nr. 45, Tirana, Albania. Tel/Fax: (355-42) 29-800. E-mail: Rlani@ami.Tirana.Al.

TRAINING

The Albanian Media Institute has received pledges from several international organizations to support a number of training efforts both for radio and newspaper journalists from throughout Albania. These activities will focus on basic journalism, the use of language and training of trainers in the print media.

In late September, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) will send Gene Minshall as a Knight Fellow to Albania to provide training and consulting for Albanian broadcasters. He will be hosted by the Albanian Media Institute for a couple of months. Minshall is president and owner of Centauri Productions in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he has produced more than 50 documentaries with stories centered in Egypt, Russia, France, Greece, Mexico, Norway and about 30 states in the United States. He has worked as a reporter, writer, editor and photographer.

IREX has an office at the institute. Resident adviser Shelly Markov arrived March 30 to establish a permanent presence. In April, Markov and Andrea Stefani began visiting newspapers, radio and TV stations to introduce IREX and assess the needs of media professionals. They also established contact with the Tirana University journalism faculty in the hopes of developing a partnership between it and a U.S. journalism school.

In early May, IREX held seminars for both working radio journalists and journalism students. The classes lasted for nine days and involved broadcasters from National Public Radio in the United States, one from Washington, D.C., the other from Alaska. A news conference with parliamentary media commission chief Musa Ulqini, during which he introduced a new draft broadcasting law, was part of the training exercise.

In June, IREX sponsored a seminar for print journalists from Tirana and from five districts, even as distant as Kukes. The classes were led by Michelle Carter, a former professional-in-residence in Russia who also was editor of the San Mateo County Times in California. The participants were presented with a different view on management, design and advertising. To date the newspapers Albania and Tomorrit have altered their front pages to include changes that Carter offered.

Press Now expressed interest in supporting training in investigative journalism, training of trainers in print media and in-house training for the local media. In May, two one-week seminars for journalists of private radios and Radio Tirana were organized by Press Now, a Dutch group that advocates for the news media in the former Yugoslavia.

Soros Foundation has been especially active recently in the training of TV journalists. Trainings have included a theoretical and practical course with camera operators; a workshop in cooperation with BBC; a course on sound with private TV and radio stations; the technical management of private TV stations; and computer advantages for television. Soros Foundation has also cooperated with OSCE, AMI, Press Now, IFJ and others, in organizing various projects. The Soros Media Training Center is developing a network for local TV stations and for e-mail. This will enhance newsgathering from outlying areas and provide almost instant communication.

USIS media projects before and since the conference last spring focused exclusively on training Albanian media personnel abroad, but plans include bringing trainers to Albania.

USIS sent 14 private radio managers for 10- to 14-day visits to the United States to train them in private radio management. These visits took place last October and March. Another journalist participated in a specialization on economic reporting, focusing on the U.S. financial system with an emphasis on preventing pyramid schemes. Two others visited the United States to study economic reporting and consumer advising for three weeks.

Future projects include sending two journalists to a program called the Professional Development Year. Both will be affiliated with a U.S. university and have an internship with a media organization.