Albanian journalists denounce the government’s attempt to dictate questions during press conferences – Exit
Albania’s Association of Professional Journalists has denounced what it sees as attempts by Prime Minister Edi Rama and his government to dictate what questions journalists are allowed to ask at press conferences.
On Thursday, Rama held a press conference to unveil the outcome of his government’s national consultation – a 12-question survey sent to the Albanian people to find out their opinion on several policy issues.
During the conference, Rama asked the journalists to limit all the questions to the subject treated, ie the national consultation, and not to touch on other subjects.
“I hope our pact, the compromise that we have made, that you find another time for off-topic answers and does not distract from the current topic with your reports,” he said.
Asked by BIRN about this so-called “pact”, the head of the Media and Information Agency, Endri Fuga, claimed that there was no written agreement as such.
“It’s become a bit of a habit that when someone comes out to talk about a certain topic, [journalists] then ask about other topics and the topic they came to cover in the first place is ‘forgotten,’” Fuga told BIRN.
Rama and Fuga’s comments that journalists have a tacit agreement with the government to stay on topic at press conferences have been refuted by the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania.
“[The request] is only an informal barrier that leads to censorship and lack of transparency,” said Aleksandër Çipa, President of the Association.
“Journalists serve the public interest and their job is to inform. To prohibit them directly or indirectly, anywhere and anytime for the accomplishment of this task, is a violation of fundamental freedoms, is an obstacle to freedom of reporting and to the courage of information”, reiterated the Association in a joint statement.
The statement also condemned the Prime Minister’s remarks that he would send a journalist for “re-education”, calling it an “intimidation tactic”.