3 May 2022 Message of the President of Republic, H. E. Ilir Meta on the World Press Freedom Day
On World Press Freedom Day, I appreciate and respect the work and efforts of every courageous journalist and independent media in the country, for fair and impartial information, based on facts and evidence.
A free, independent and accountable media is essential to any functioning and sustainable democracy.
But when most journalists continue to work without regular employment contracts and insurance, poorly paid, forced to work long hours and in not at all dignified conditions, as well as when the institutions in charge of the proper functioning and regulation of public media are completely politicized, then self-censorship and editorial censorship are inevitable.
This creates the ground for political control and influence of the media, through the framing of editorial lines and the dissemination of deliberate misinformation, dictated by dark funding sources, government pressure and blackmail, with the ultimate goal of centralizing information and strengthening authoritarianism.
It is no coincidence that year after year, acts of police violence, unjustified detentions, threats, blackmail and public insults against Albanian reporters have increased.
The language of pressure, denigration, intimidation and even hatred towards journalism as a profession, the journalist as an individual or the media community as a whole, poses a serious threat to the whole society and the democratic order.
Therefore, Albania, according to the latest report of “Reporters Without Borders” has dropped terribly by 20 places in the World Index of Media Freedom, ranking last and leaving behind countries that have just emerged from the war and where there have been strong social tensions.
As this report shows, “journalists in Albania continue to face political pressures that were exacerbated in 2021 by attempts to control information during the parliamentary elections and the Covid-19 pandemic. The political class threatens the independence of newsrooms through highly politicized regulatory institutions of public media management. Journalists critical of the government face regular political attacks aimed at discrediting them, as well as having difficulty accessing public information.”
In conditions when local organizations for the protection of reporters are almost non-existent, partially or completely captured, journalists themselves should be organized, have a more unified stance, be more transparent to issues of media ownership and political divisions, but more importantly not to expect freedom of expression to be served to them by politics or clientelistic groups.
Restoring media freedom will serve not only transparency but accountability at every level.
Free media, independent and in the service of the highest public interest, is a goal for which we should all strive and cooperate.