The Role of Media and Civil Society in the Democratization of Municipalities

Hotel Emerald
23 Sep 2014

Speakers:

•    Besnik Tahiri, Director of the Kosovo Local Government Institute
•    Fatmir Haxholli, M.A of European Modern Studies
•    Kushtim Sadiku, KLAN Kosova
•    Adriatik Kelmendi, Chief-Editor in KOHA Vision
•    Petrit Zogaj, Director of FOL Movement
•    Osman Bllaca, Coordinator of INPO Programs

Topics:
•    Presentation of the Research: Clientelism an Alternative Dimension of Governance in municipalities
•    The role of media in the increase of the transparency and accountability in municipalities
•    The role of the civil society in the democratization and the good governance in Kosovo

The Role of Media and Civil Society in the Democratization of Municipalities

Besnik Tahiri, Executive Director - KLGI: Opening of the Model
Adriatik Kelmendi, Editor in Chief KOHA Vision: Municipal officers contribute significantly to this field, and the mutual cooperation plays an important role in keeping the public satisfied with information. Municipalities launch information and take action, thus there may be misunderstandings by parties as a result of the lack of experience or professional formation on the part of the journalist. Information in democracy has existed since the establishment of democracy, given the importance of this process and the fact that people expect accountability from those they have directly voted for. As journalists, we do not have time to deal with every single information launched by the municipalities, thus it is the editor’s task to select the main news that directly affect the life of citizens.

How to select the main news: In national media, such as KTV, which is assigned a national frequency, importance is given to news related to education, healthcare and politics, since the latter is related to many other factors. We do not know all the problems, and you should not wait for the journalist to come to you, but instead you should launch the information. Information coming from citizens is very important and the journalist should prepare the news professionally without emotional impact.... There is so much good work that is not visible. Good work comes slowly, while bad news travels fast and has greater impact. Media give space to news that feed the public curiosity. Without information there can be no fair judgment, without information there can be no opinion and without opinion there can be no critical thinking. Dictatorship neutralizes the opinion. Information should not be influenced by the government.

Besnik Tahiri, Executive Director - KLGI: Media misunderstanding in relation to the municipalities is a serious problem that affects the news, the editor has to decide which news is important, and thus a phone call cannot be considered as pressure. The job is not done when we have submitted the news, for the impact is achieved when the news is launched. Communication can be formal and informal. Journalists have a problem with funding, as their salaries are so low that they can hardly manage to cover their own expenses.

Adriatik Kelmendi, Editor in Chief KOHA Vision: In a total of 38 municipalities there a few local TV stations. We do not assess the news on the basis of which municipalities have local TV stations. Local TV stations tend to take side with the municipal government, in order for them to survive. A good news takes a lot of work to become good news. The development of technology provides an advantage in launching the news. So, do not hesitate to launch the information, do not hesitate to say that you don’t have local TV but that you do have other alternatives for launching the information, and it is not a shame to call that journalism. The Municipality of Graçanica had difficulties in cooperating with the TV station in Pristina, but the situation is better now. The journalists are not perfect either, and they look for the events that draw most attention. As for the freedom of media, Kosovo stands better than the neighboring countries, such as Montenegro and Macedonia, and even Croatia as a member of EU, but it is still not what we aspire and neither is it at the highest standards.

Kushtrim Sadiku, KLAN Kosova: I have been very impressed with the Information Offices’ approach to communication with media in some municipalities, such as Vushtrri and Gjakova.  It is very important not to hesitate to communicate with the local TV stations. Local TV stations play a vital role; however, they tend to be the voice of the municipality, which is very concerning. There are many journalists who work as municipal spokespersons and as journalist in the local media at the same time.  Therefore, the empowerment of local media is crucial. As national media, we cooperate with local TV stations, and very often we have information from a municipality while the local TV station does not have it.